I think it's safe to say that every since Mario and Sonic met up to compete in the Olympics for the first time — which was immediately overshadowed with the same appearance in Super Smash Bros. Brawl — most gamers have grown to be indifferent when it comes to this unlikely duo in Wii games. However, SEGA might have been given the chance to make this much more fresh and exciting with Mario 2012 Olympics.
Mario and Sonic at the 2012 London Olympics is game that does well to become a fun party game instead of a cartoonish version of real Olympic sports. It covers the basic events, including dashes and pole vaults and long jumps, but it also mixes the bag with mini-games and other sorts of events that contrast well to what is otherwise a normally dry feel the events give. After all, Kirby doesn't do your taxes on a daily basis.
Single-match mode lets you play the events straight through without deviating too much, which just opens up the room for more craziness in the form of Dream Events. These are insane versions of the preexisting events. However, rather than it just being a rehash with more colors and some red shells, they actually play much more differently, including with varying control schemes, each one counting as its own event.
The focus on the party play is ultimately displayed best with the London Party mode. Think Mario Party, but without the whole board game thing. These games can last anywhere between half an hour to three times that, and it always stays fresh because the game mixes everything well. Players navigate an area that represents London. Interacting with an NPC lets you complete the task of finding stickers. After a certain amount of time, main Olympic events occur along with mini-games.
With the exception of the London Party mode and its "Rival Battles," in which a single player is required to compete against a computer player, causing other players to have to sit and wait, there is never really any slow down in the game; explanations of the controls are passed with a single press of the button, and the game then begins quite quickly.
Overall, Mario and Sonic at the 2012 London Olympics is a surprisingly great, solid party title. While it does not feature the same substance that a party title Nintendo would produce, SEGA did a great job making the game they did, breaking the shackles that sporting events held, instead focusing on fun. If nothing else, this game is great enjoyment for a family gathering.