For those of us who grew up in the '90s, the idea of Mario and Sonic teaming up in a game was considered some kind of impossible dream because the two properties were owned by fierce rivals. Even in our wildest dreams, we never imagined how the actual team-up would work. Super Smash Bros. Brawl aside, Mario and Sonic's most consistent team-up has been in the Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games franchise. Despite this oddity, it's one of the most successful franchises that either mascot has known, so it should come as no huge s urprise that the next Olympics will bring another entry to the franchise. Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games doesn't seem to deviate much from the formula. According to Sega, the idea behind it is bigger and better: more levels, more events and more things to do.
The events in Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games are divided into two types: Olympic and Dream versions. You might play as a neon-pink hedgehog or a portly Italian plumber, but Olympic versions do their best to mimic actual Olympic events. The Dream version, on the other hand, meshes an Olympic sport with a level from one of Sonic or Mario's games. We saw two versions of the equestrian event. In the Olympic version, you pick one of your characters and enter a riding competition. You have to move the Wii Remote as instructed to complete a series of tricks. The goal is to perform your tricks and get through the level as quickly as possible.
The other version of the equestrian event, known as Dream Equestrian, is more unusual. Up to four players team up to use their horses to pull a cart of Yoshi eggs through a Mario Kart-inspired level. They have to spur and turn the horses to avoid obstacles and jump over gaps in the road. The challenges are many because it's a Mario Kart course, with all the obstacles that implies. That includes Monty Moles jumping out of the ground and Kamek the Wizard Koopa creating flaming barrels that chase you down. Getting hit causes you to lose one of the seven Yoshi eggs and suffer a serious time penalty. Dream Equestrian requires all players to work together, so if you're at divided purposes or someone doesn't jump in time, you'll find yourself ramming your cart into obstacles or enemies.
The Dream events can get even more ridiculous. Dream Discus is almost completely different from the regular event, with each contestant riding on a giant flying discus through a level of Sonic Adventure and trying to collect rings. The challenge comes in collecting as many rings as possible before the end of the stage. It's a lot of fun, if just for the intense rivalry that starts to build up once all four players are smashing and crashing into one another, and it's absolutely nothing like the Olympic event.
That isn't to say that the Olympic events are simple. We saw a glimpse of the Rhythmic Ribbons event, which has the character performing a complicated dance to music. To do this, you have to move your Wiimotes in time with the music and on-screen circles. It can get reasonably challenging. The more complex the move, the harder the Wiimote motion required, so if you want your rhythmic gymnast to be successful, you're going to have to master precise timing. The canoeing event is pretty similar in that you must time your Wiimote shakes with an icon on the screen. Go too fast or too slow, and you'll lag behind in the race. Go at just the right pace, and you'll be able to outrace the other canoers.
In addition to the usual Olympic events, Sonic & Mario also has a new mode called London Party mode, which is sort of real-time board game. Up to four players are put on a giant map of London, and they can wander around. Every time Big Ben chimes, they're tossed into an Olympic event. The winner of the game earns stickers, and the first person to get 48 stickers is the winner of the game.
What sets apart London Party mode from the main Olympic events is that it contains its own group of minigames. Occasionally, certain non-playable Mario & Sonic characters will appear on the map. Chatting with them initiates a special London Party mode-specific minigame. We got to see a handful of these. One was a "cops and robbers" style game where two players were cops and the others were robbers. The cops, represented by flashing blue lights on their heads, must chase down and tag both robbers before time runs out. The robbers merely have to escape their pursuers. The winner of this contest gets stickers, while the loser gets zip.
Another minigame was like a crazed version of Pac-Man and tasked players with running around the London board collecting coins. The catch is that any other player can stomp on them to knock away the coins. Once someone got a lead, it quickly devolved into four people trying to stomp on each other to get the precious loot. The third mode we saw was a side-scrolling challenge where four players have to dodge obstacles to reach the end of a marathon course. Unlike the other mode, anyone who reaches the end of the course gets a prize, so you must be careful to not get taken out by obstacles.
Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games doesn't seem to deviate much from the formula. At heart, it's still a collection of Olympic-themed minigames starring your favorite Mario and Sonic characters. It's shaping up to be a great party game. The new events are silly fun, and they're at just the right level of simplicity so anyone can pick up and play without feeling overwhelmed. At the same time, new modes like the London Party mode give Mario and Sonic a lot of extra value. Minigame collections usually only last as long as the minigames are fun, but with over 50 London Party Events in addition to the Olympic and Dream events, there are a lot of minigames to keep people interested and excited for a while.
More articles about Mario & Sonic At The London 2012 Olympic Games