ROAD TO THE OLYMPICS: Mario And Sonic In 2012

Considering the naming conventions of this series, it seems like Sega Of America wasn't expecting Mario and Sonic to do as well as it has. They named the first one just "Olympic Games" and the sequel "Olympic Winter Games". In Japan, the series has always been named after the place it took place in, so they were called "Mario And Sonic At The Beijing Olympics" and "Mario And Sonic At The Vancouver Olympics" respectively. I guess Sega Of Japan didn't communicate the fact that these were going to be an every Olympic thing, thus the west was caught off guard. That's my theory for why these titles get increasingly longer names in the US, at least. We're back to the warm summer air, and we're doing the whole Olympic shindig in the land of royalty and tea. The pudgy plumber and the spiky hedgehog are going at it again for the third and the final Wii installment of Olympic antics. Break out your fake British accents, it's Mario And Sonic At The London 2012 Olympic Games, released in 2011 for the Nintendo Wii.

It would have been easy to just re-skin 2008, keep the new characters and call it a day. That's what I assumed the would have done. It's a bi-yearly sports franchise, after all. New coats of paint are the bread and butter of those types of game. I underestimated Sega on this one. Not only are there a ton of games that are new, but the games that did return are sporting some new features, like special moves and a fresh mechanics. Besides the returning favorites like the iconic 100m dash, Table Tennis, and Fencing, we have Equestrian, Bicycle racing, Badminton, Beach Volleyball, and (of course) Soccer. Not to mention the dream events, which just keep getting bigger and keep getting more fun. Yes, that new coat of paint is there and Mario and Sonic hasn't looked better before this, but that's all set to the side. What you're here for is the content. And Mario and Sonic packs itself with that, without a doubt.

More than any game until now, Mario and Sonic 2012 relishes in its setting. The visuals in 2008 could have taken place anywhere, and 2010 was mostly just generically snowy. 2012 wants you to know it's in London, with images of Big Ben and double-decker buses plastered all over the events and menus. Perhaps most obviously, London is featured as a mode in the game: London Party. Players run around a map of London with the goal of getting the most stickers. You can collect coins and potentially stickers, but you mainly run into one of multiple NPC's to play a mini-game that is far more akin to Mario Party than anything Mario And Sonic has done to date. Mini-games such as count how many things appear on the screen, or a quiz about both franchises. The winner gets so many stickers, and you have to repeat until Big Ben chimes. When that happens, you play an actual Olympic event for even more stickers. Whoever meets the required amount of stickers first wins, and the game ends. It takes the mini-game concept from the last two outings and expands upon it yet again, taking the form of almost a Mario Party game. They might even expand to the point where 2014 becomes Mario Party 11 at this rate. This is all praise for the mode, don't misunderstand, but it's not really a mode I'm into that much. I either want a full Mario Party or nothing, not this half-baked crap. It's good as an extra feature, but I wouldn't gather up friends to play it. I would gather up friends for the actual Olympic events, the whole point I bought this game in the first place.

Speaking of extra features, the shop and currency is all gone, but in its place, we got something equally good: Lottery Tickets. Yes, to get Mii costumes and that sweet music this time, you'll have to gamble your way there. You'll get a ticket after completing events, which you can win a prize by matching two identical pictures in a scratch off. Or not, most likely. But you can trade so many used tickets in for the content you're trying to win anyway, so everyone is a winner at some point. I got to say, it's kind of a clever currency mechanic that I kind of want to see in another game. Not sure how, of in what game, but it makes for a good idea as a way to buy things in game. No matter if you win or lose, there's always something good about it. I like that in a for-fun-not-serious-party game: not killing the fun at any cost.

That's what London 2012 does best: It's fun. Over the two summer games choices at this point, go with this one. 2008 is serviceable and is a good game in its own right, but something about how 2012 tries its best to stand out even among Mario and Sonic games is absolutely admirable. Retains the fun, tries some new things, and goes the extra mile when it comes to quality. Don't hesitate to get it if you're a Mario and Sonic fan to any degree. Your Wii will thank you for this and not, say, Carnival Games 2.

So tell me: Which Mario or Sonic character won the Olympics in 2012?

We mean that literally! Head on over to our Facebook Page for our ROAD TO THE OLYMPICS Weekly Contest! If you convince us that Big The Cat or Roy Koopa or whoever in the Mario and Sonic universe won, you'll win a $20 digital code to a gaming store of your choice!. Steam, Xbox Live, PSN, Nintendo eShop, whatever you choose! Just leave a comment on the related post with a way of convincing us. It could be a picture, a video, text, or however else you want to do it! The event will start at 12PM EST on Tuesday, July 19th and run until 12AM July 26th. The winner will be announced at 12PM on July 26th, along with the start of the next weeks contest. Good luck!

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