With months to wait for the London Olympics, get in the mood with a plumber and a hedgehog.
It’s not that I have a low opinion of my country. Well, actually it is. But with everything else that is going on at the moment, the financial crisis and such, I really don’t hold out much hope for the London 2012 Olympic Games being very good. In fact, I think that they will be downright embarrassing.
However, there is one good thing that comes out of my lack of faith in the London Olympics. It means that the bar is set low for the inevitable video games that will tie-in with the event. At least the first of these tie-in games doesn’t take itself seriously and offers a light hearted collection of Olympic-based mini-games hosted by two of gaming’s most famous characters, Mario and Sonic. So in many ways it is easy to just ignore the fact that it is based in London and enjoy the games for what they are – Wii-based fun.
Of course, this is not the first time that Mario, Sonic and their friends have indulged in some Olympic mini-game fun, having participated in the Beijing Olympics back in 2007 and Winter Olympics in 2009. Because of this, and because of the very nature of Olympic Games, the majority of this titles real-life events will be based on those found in the original Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games. That being said, there are a few new events here that are worth checking out.
So amongst the sprinting, long and high jumping and such, players will be able to find some football, show jumping and badminton. For the most part, the mechanics of both the new and old events are straight forward and easy to pick up, involving a fair amount of Wiimote shaking and swinging. But there is nothing really new or ground-breaking here, that we have not already seen before.
But never let it be said that video games have to remain in the realms of reality. Perhaps the most interesting events found in this Olympic collection are the Dream events, events that take the disciplines from real Olympic events and place them in a more surreal environment. Racing along with a cart filled with eggs, riding a Discus or steering a raft along a river, are all entertaining in their settings taken straight from the worlds of Mario and Sonic. A lot of these particular games are co-op, allowing players to work together towards a goal, bringing families together before pounding them in the competitive games.
It is not necessarily the individual events that make a package interesting, but more the way that they are put together. In this particular case the events are all bound into London Party Mode, a board game that involves players working their way around a mythical London that only exists in the dreams of the developers, by which I mean it is clean and rather nice looking.
The game challenges the players to collect stickers and will see them not only competing in all of the Olympic events from the game, but also a good selection of more traditional mini-games. As far as party games go, this mode does a great job of keeping the action moving, something which doesn’t always happen with board games.
Fans of either Mario or Sonic’s universe are well catered for with the selection of playable characters. The 20 characters are divided up into different skill sets concentrating on speed, power, skill and all-rounders, ensuring that no one character will excel at all of the events. All of the favorites are included, along with a couple of more unknown characters, so all of the players should find someone to play as that will please them.
As one would expect, the presentation is bright, colourful and well done, lending itself quite naturally to the party crowd. Much like most party games, M&S is best enjoyed in the company of friends. Playing the game alone is quite a shallow experience and will not show the game in its best light.
Taking two of gaming’s most iconic characters and teaming them up for a sports-based mini-game compilation was a stroke of genius when Sega first did it back in 2007, and it still works well today. There are plenty of party games and mini-game compilations available at the moment, especially on the Wii, but for wholesome family fun you could do much worse than Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games.