Demo Impressions: Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games

Recently, I downloaded the demo of Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games from the Nintendo eShop. My motivation was boredom more than anything; I’ve never played any of the other Mario & Sonic games, and my interest was probably peaked because it was late at night and I was waiting for Chris to download a game so we could test it out on Steam for a LiveStream.

The game revolves around the Olympic games, as the title suggests, and you’ll play as  either Sonic or Mario characters to compete against one another in several events. This demo allows you to play five of the reported fifty or more events that you’ll be able to play in the game proper: 25m Rapid Fire Pistol, Football (Soccer for you Americans), Trampoline, 100m Backstroke, and BMX. I’ll detail my thoughts on these events individually and then state my over all opinion on whether this will be worth the purchase.

Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games
System: Nintendo 3DS
Developer: SEGA Sports Japan
Publisher: Nintendo (JP), SEGA (EU, NA)
Release Date: February 14, 2012 (full game)
MSRP: $39.96 from Walmart (pre-order price)

The first of the events is the 25m Rapid Fire Pistol. A set of five targets will slide across the screen, and your job is to press R whenever your cursor is over the bull’s-eye. This will happen three times, each one faster than the last. Your score will depend on how close to the bull’s-eye you get, with 10 points for a perfect shot, giving a total of a possible 150. The concept is easy enough and done in a fashion that makes the event enjoyable. If I’d been able to choose events without having to do all of them, I would’ve probably spent quite some time on this event. It’s simple but fun.

The second event is football. The concept here is easy enough: someone will kick the ball from the corner to you five times, and it’s your job to score. To wind up, you hold down on the circle pad. When you’re ready to kick the ball, release the circle pad. If you’re interested in trying a curve shot, spin the circle pad in a circular motion. Sounds easy enough, right? Wrong. This was by far the most annoying event of the five. The camera angle is awkward, which makes it hard to figure out where you want to shoot the ball and when. I found myself swearing multiple times during the course of this event and definitely wouldn’t have played it willingly if I had the choice. I really wish they’d done this event differently or at least designed it in a way so people could do adequately what the designers expected them to do.

 

Next is the trampoline event. Your job here is to press the A button to jump whenever the circle around you overlaps with the mark on the trampoline. You can use the circle pad in order to adjust where you land on the trampoline. As you jump higher, you get knocked off the center easier. You gain points on how close to the center you get and the timing of your jump. If you do a really good job while jumping, your character will do their special move on the last jump. Honestly, it sounds more complicated than it really is. This is definitely an event that you need to just do and not try to understand the instructions. I enjoyed this event well enough, though I don’t know how often I’d pick it if I had the choice to play any of the events. It does what it does well, which is good, but it’s not a particularly interesting event.

The 100m Backstroke is next. This event requires you to use the stylus to make circles in whichever direction your character is swimming. The more the circles that overlap with the circle shown on the top screen, the faster your character will go. This was the most interesting event as it was a little awkward to do, but it’s unique and easy enough to learn that it kept my interest. This would also be one of the events I would probably play more than once.

The last event of the demo is the BMX. You’re on a bike and going around a course where there are areas, much like those found in Mario Kart, that make you go faster. When you’re on those pads, you’re supposed to press A to jump and then tilt the 3DS to get a good landing angle. Since there are also spots on the ground that will slow you down, use the circle pad in order to steer the bike. This event was easily my second least favorite. I managed to hold the 3DS even the entire time and get good or perfect landings, but I could never quite get the hang of when exactly I was supposed to press A. I experimented with pressing it earlier or later and couldn’t really figure out which one was better. I’m not really sure it made a difference. Either way, it was a relatively annoying event and I probably wouldn’t pick it unless a friend wanted to play it.

The music and sound effects for the game are simple and exciting enough to justify keeping the sound on during the game. The graphics are pleasing and the 3D looks nice on certain events (e.g. trampoline), but it didn’t really affect others (e.g. backstroke, BMX). It also doesn’t really seem to matter who you choose as characters. The demo doesn’t let you choose your character, but I played through several times and got different characters each time. It didn’t seem to make much of a difference, if any at all. I guess this is fine, but you would think that, given the traits of the individual characters (e.g. Sonic being really fast), certain events might be harder or easier for some of them. For all I know, the demo picked the best characters for each event.

It would have been nice if the demo allowed us to pick a difficulty setting, as I’m pretty sure I was forced to play on Easy the entire time. Really, it was easy. I creamed the competition on the events that I placed first in.

In fact, there wasn’t a single time in the fifteen or twenty times I played through the demo where I didn’t win first place over all. I was left wondering what Normal and Hard modes would’ve been like and whether that would yield better balance.

All things considered, this game is probably worth picking up if you’re looking for something you can pick up and put down at any time and like to have a variety of  mini-games to play. If you’re looking for something more involved, this is probably a title to stay away from.

 

Disclosure: This application was not sent by SEGA Sports Japan, Nintendo, or SEGA.

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