Sega also found other ways to make the actual sporting events engaging, even if you're not playing the London Party mode. Besides keeping a record of your best performance in each event, the game awards a special scratcher ticket for every completed match. You can carry up to 99 of the tickets at once and then scratch them off at your leisure to reveal prizes. These include musical compositions from Mario and Sonic games, silly clothing accessories for your Mii character (which can also be used in game), and full-body costumes for the same purpose. You can then set unlocked tunes to accompany your favorite sporting events.
Most of the minigames are engaging enough that you will probably be quite pleased to play them even without your preferred theme song, perhaps for longer than is in your best interest. If you don't force yourself to limit your play to sessions of an hour or two, you could be in for some serious pain, thanks to the simple but repetitive control schemes. For the most part, you need to hold the Wii Remote upright and then swing down periodically as required. Or you can press the A and B buttons to produce special bursts of speed or to jump. Sometimes, you hold the remote sideways like an old NES controller, or you can optionally add a nunchuk to the mix. A lot of arm jerking is required no matter what, which can wreak havoc on your body if you ignore your complaining muscles for too long. Occasionally, it can be difficult to tell what movement helps you to perform best in a game you are unfamiliar with, so you may also wind up pushing yourself harder than necessary to win a gold medal or break a record.
Fortunately, the game is easier to appreciate once you master its subtleties. Control repetition aside, the minigames that challenge you tend to do so in pleasant ways, which keeps you coming back to them to see how much better you can do. For example, the Synchronized Swimming and Rhythmic Ribbon minigames (which can be amusing to watch if you choose characters you might not expect to see display real grace) require you to move your arms into various positions in time with a musical accompaniment. It's easy to perform such activities moderately well, but a truly great performance requires careful timing that no amount of furious shaking can produce. The Team Pursuit minigame features a team of four cyclists who have to switch off to maintain their stamina as they race around several laps and maintain a lead over rival teams. The Pistol minigame presents you with a variety of moving targets, and you have to aim quickly and shoot precisely to score the most possible points.
However, some of the minigames are duds and outwear their welcome. Volleyball is fun for one round, but playing against two separate teams across multiple rounds can get old quickly. Football, Table Tennis, and Badminton suffer from the same flaw, plus your opponents can sometimes produce special moves that are difficult for a human player to counter. They can also easily counter the same move (whether that be a wicked serve in Table Tennis or a power spike in Volleyball) when you try to employ it. The good news is that you can adjust the difficulty level as needed or (even better) play with friends instead of against the computer.
Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games takes no real risks and perhaps relies too heavily on your fondness for its leading mascots, but it still manages to provide a wide variety of minigames and bonus content that should keep you busy for a long while (especially if you have a few friends handy). Mario and Sonic are both capable of providing experiences that are more memorable than these, but they also make good enough athletes to produce a worthwhile party in London.