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CVG
2 Reviews

Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games

London calling

When Danny Boyle directs the opening ceremony for London 2012 he'd be wise to watch M&S's CG intro. It's a masterclass in Olympic hype: heroic athletes, dramatic action and London scrubbed to within an inch of its sordid life.

They've shooed away the one-legged pigeons and broken-faced tramps, dredged the Thames of its McDonald's cartons/corpses and patched up the windows smashed in by restless teens. It is London as only Sega could see it, depressingly far from truth. Although Boris Johnson does have something of Dr Eggman about him.

Have a look at CVG's best party games for Christmas 2011.

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Dream London gets a similarly romanticised Olympic Games. Don't you find the real Olympics to be unbearably slow? Watching the BBC's build-up to ten - sometimes less - seconds of action is enough to turn a man to murder. Or worse, ITV. In videogameland, however, events miraculously stream from a disc.

Better still, Sega unlock all disciplines from the outset, letting us schedule a Games to our liking. You know: female synchronised swimming, female trampolining, female ribbon twirling - all the classics. Alas, scandalously, mud fighting continues to go unrecognised by the Olympic Committee.

M&S 2012 certainly uses better events than the original game. Beijing over-relied on athletics, with too few mechanical twists to differentiate sprints and jumps of varying lengths and heights. Track is kept to 100m sprint, hurdles and relay and simplifies controls for less RSI. Meanwhile, field events refocus on throwing, with a neat throwing arc system replacing the tired 'power bars' of old.

With athletics out the way, Sega are free to pursue games with better competitive potential. Noticeably, team sports - football, badminton, volleyball, rowing, cycling - dominate the package.

Ping pong gong
Quality varies from event to event. Team sports are better fleshed out than other events. Football and volleyball could almost be standalone games, like Mario Sport Mix. Not amazing standalone games, but certainly more than you'd expect from a minigame compilation. Table tennis and badminton go down the Wii Sports route, moving characters automatically so you can focus on shot timing and placement.

Again, neither quite rivals the source material - the character animations are too rigid for any sense of one-to-one control - but we've enjoyed several long rallies playing these two games, nonetheless.

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Most events keep controls nice and simple, essential for any pick up and play party game. Many include rhythm elements, challenging you to maintain steady flicks while performing minor button prods for bonus points. If you can wobble a remote you can trampoline, row and fling a Nintendo mascot between the uneven bars.

Bizarrely, ribbon twirling is an unexpected gem - jabbing the remote in time to visual cues plays like My First Ouendan. After two years of mindless Just Dance flailing it's nice to be reminded that the Wii remote can detect some nuance.

Of course, it wouldn't be a minigame compilation without a few jokers in the pack. Fencing is properly rotten, trying to win over hands weaned on Skyward Sword's miracle controls with crude remote thrusts. Maybe we're doing it wrong, but there's none of the poise or strategy of the real event.

Likewise volleyball, where we found flicks would sometimes fail to register. Solo players also have to contend with cheating AI in most events, though this is easily rectified by adding friends to the mix (friends sold separately).

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