Gamescom '11: Hands-on with Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympics on 3DS

An unexpected sporting pleasure

Gamescom '11: Hands-on with Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympics on 3DS

There's no way we would have imagined Mario and Sonic getting along 15 years ago. Yet here they are, collaborating on some great 3DS sporting action.

Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympics follows on from the original Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games of 2008, and of course 2009's Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games.

Both games were moderately enjoyable, with an interesting mix of decent and not-so-decent sports-based mini-games. With the new London 2012 Olympics title, it looks like the duo may finally have found the perfect balance.

Pocket Gamer played a selection of the 50 sports that will be on offer in the final version, and we came out with high hopes.

Gold, Silver, or Bronze?

What really had us intrigued was the range of control schemes, and the way the game uses the 3DS's capabilities.

With mini-game collections such as these, it can be a real killer if you're simply asked to tap the screen or press a selection of buttons for every single one.

Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympics is not content with throwing generic controls at you. Take the Breaststroke event, for example, which asks you to blow into the microphone every time your character's head comes up for air as it swims.

Then there's the 100km Walk, which is as silly as it sounds - you use the stylus to swipe back and forth in time with a marching band, and as the action pushes onwards the timing changes and you need to swing faster.

A very old rivalry

These games are all good and fine, and will no doubt grow in difficulty and keep us entertained.

But there were some stand-out mini-games available in the demo we played.

Badminton, for one, is simple but effective, with shades of old WarioWare mini-games in there.

Shuttlecocks fly at you one by one, and will either fall out of the court or need hitting back over the net. You need to watch the shuttle and then either press 'dodge' or 'hit', depending on where it's going to land.

Over time, the camera angle changes so that you're looking up into the air, making it more difficult to determine where it's going. The shuttle then starts doing ridiculous moves, such as zipping through the air, stopping on the spot, then continuing its flight.

Events co-ordinator

The Balance Beam event is also great fun, utilising the 3DS gyroscope to first slide a ball around a maze and then to balance directly in the middle of a bar.

The Shooting event is a particular standout. Clay pigeons are fired into the air, and you need to shoot them down before they fall. As your score gets higher and higher, the clay pigeons fall even more quickly, and it gets incredibly hectic.

We didn't go into Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympics expecting all that much, but it turned out to be a very pleasant surprise.

The game is due to launch next February, just in time for the big games. We'll hopefully get more hands-on time before then.

Mike Rose
Mike Rose
An expert in the indie games scene, Mike comes to Pocket Gamer as our handheld gaming correspondent. He is the author of 250 Indie Games You Must Play.