If the Wii U makes it in time for next Christmas, this could be the original Wii’s last family outing. We’ve had some great times with Wii Sports, Resort, Play, Mario Kart and the last two Olympics titles, so we were looking forward to a warm-up for next year’s London Games.
Thinking we'd start with some multiplayer games, we headed straight to the London Party mode. Instead of simply choosing a random mix of games or selecting specific ones from a list, we're given something much worse.
Players are dumped onto a grid and must run around using the d-pad, collecting items and bumping into NPCs hoping to trigger an event. This could be something like a quiz on characters you've never heard of or a coin-collecting minigame. Finally, we actually got to play an actual Olympic event, in the form of a pistol shooting game, but only for one round (usually six varied rounds in single event mode).
All activities reward players with stickers, which they add to their own board, the winner being the one to fill their side first. Seeing as some bonus squares swap player boards around, it’s virtually pointless as a form of competition. We spent more time messing around with stickers and trying to find games than actually playing anything. Non-gamers, who you'd think the game would want to involve, won't enjoy the 'gaminess' of having to run around and gamers will see it as boring, it's not even ok for kids to be honest.
If you opt for single events from the main menu instead of London Party, then you can choose from 1-4 players for any event of your choosing. It's a disjointed way to play a series of events, but at least you're not left with the clusterf**k lottery of the London Party mode.
The games themselves are a mixed bag of quality. This is either due to poor instructions, or just a general dullness about them. Track sprinting events are simple enough, just shake the Wiimote up and down as fast as possible. But complex events like the javelin are a real mess. After a run up, you're told to press B, with no indication of timing. A vague line (it's almost like a graphical glitch) appears and you'd think that pressing B when it's green rather than yellow would yield the best results. Well, who knows? Every human player seemed to prop up the bottom of the leaderboards, by a good 40 metres.
Pistol games work much better and each round changes things up. Targets will move, shrink and even need to be hit in sequence. You only have one shot per target too, making it a real test of accuracy.
Equestrian events use a sideways Wiimote to steer and a button press to jump over hurdles. Time penalties punish poor timing and it's a decent game if not repetitive. The gymnastics ribbon events are tests of timing as you match on-screen prompts for highscores. While easy-going, like many events, it's just not that interesting.
Cycling is tiring and throws in unclear quick time events to change racers when the leader’s stamina drops. Table tennis seems to be completely broken, with directional swings not registering most of the time and up/down strokes working better than realistic motions. Badminton, on the other hand is great fun. It’s simple, but it actually works. The ability to smash down powerful overhead strikes is picked up well too. The loud sound effects make it sound more like a furious squash match though for some reason.
Football is another decent game with simple pass/shoot or slide/tackle controls in conjunction with the d-pad. Not one for the non-gamers, but the easy goals makes for enjoyable matches.
Other events, including athletics, rowing and fencing all fail to inspire any enthusiasm. After bumbling through a game, you’ll swiftly want to move onto something else.
Thankfully, the Dream Events inject some much-needed abstract oddness, which a game featuring Mario and Sonic should. For the most part, they bear little resemblance to their Olympic counterparts. If you’re looking for games to please non-gaming members of your family though, you may want to look elsewhere as the controls require a familiarity with button placement and general gaming expertise.
The trampoline event has gone from basic Wiimote twisting to a multiplayer round robin of Quick Time Events, which is fun for nobody. Sprint matches put you in a giant balls and roll your through a neon pinball-esque landscapes in a race to the finish, while fencing puts all players on a platform for a simple button bashing session to attack each other.
The discus is more of a flying event where you compete for rings over a series of floating islands. Like most games, luck is just as important as skill, but the graphics are the best you’ll see of the whole game. Another flying level is the Spacewalk where you glide around as a team and have to float into the indicated circle to charge up power attacks to defeat a Nintendo boss monster.
- Some Dream events
- London Party mode is terrible
- Dodgy controls for some events
- Poor for casual-gamers
The Short Version: The Dream Events help add some much needed variety to the game, but you can’t help but feel there isn’t really much new here since gaming’s odd couple went to the Beijing games. The new London Party mode is a disaster and you feel the series is pushing away casual players. And the lack of a simple event compilation setup for multiplayer is bewildering and disappointing.