Thursday, December 23, 2010

Review: Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem!

This DS game was given to me by one of my friends for my birthday. I wasn't really expecting it, but it was a nice change to have a puzzle game in the line up of games that I have been playing. So is this game worth getting as a present for Christmas? (Or your birthday, if it's near Christmas like mine.) Well, let's find out...

First of all, the Mario vs. Donkey Kong series arised from reviving the type of gameplay found in the original 'Donkey Kong' game for the Game Boy... but... you won't find any of that here. In fact... the main point of the game has changed throughout the spin-off franchise. The goal now is to guide Mini-Mario toys to the exits of the levels while changing the environment around them. In the original Mario vs. Donkey Kong, this was more of a mini-game, bonus level thing (I can't quite remember, it's been forever since I've played) but now, guiding the Mini-Marios has stayed the main objective throughout the rest of the series.

I suppose Mario is too busy fighting Bowser all the time to fight Donkey Kong, so he just let's his Mini-Mario toys do the work for him. I mean, Bowser wants to rule the universe in the Galaxy games, what's more threatening than that? The only real threat Donkey Kong holds is kidnapping Pauline, the original dame in the very first game Mario had starred in: Donkey Kong. (The arcade Donkey Kong, not to be confused with the Donkey Kong on Game Boy which is a completely different game.)

Enough about the history of the series and why Mario isn't just fighting Donkey Kong himself, let's talk gameplay. Like I said, the goal of the game is to get all the Mini-Marios to the exit of a level by manipulating and placing objects in the environment. Each world will introduce a new type of object or manipulation, and it does stack the skills throughout each world, so you must remember all of the objects that you can use. You don't start the level until you turn on the Mini-Marios, but once you do, get ready to move fast so you don't make a mistake. I found that the levels are never too hard or tedious, and the game rewards you when you collect everything in a level by unlocking more levels in a special world.

It doesn't take long to beat the main game, but after that, you've just started. There's more levels that you can unlock and you are able to create your own levels and share them online. I tried out the level creator and it is very easy to use. I only messed around with it for a little while, but my creative spark may turn on again someday and try making some levels. I also downloaded a few levels that are publically shared online from other people. Some of them that are highly rated are kind of strange... I don't mean strange as in interesting, I mean strange as in, "Why are these rated so high?" Granted, there are some that people have made that are very challenging.

The Verdict:

This game tests your puzzle and reflex skills without forcing the player to think too hard. There is a lot of content to play and unlock and with the level creator and downloadable levels, like I said with my Picross 3D review, there's virtually limitless content for this type of game. I can definitely see myself playing it more in the near future.

What I Liked:

-Virtually limitless content
-Puzzles aren't too hard while they still remain challenging

What I Didn't Like:

-I sort of miss the original Mario vs. Donkey Kong gameplay, but this is more of a gripe with the series in general, so pay no attention to this if you just want a good puzzle game.

Second Opinion: DrFinkelstein
I received this game for Christmas and have just beaten the main worlds. I found this game fantastically fun, the right kind of challenging, and graphically pleasant. A few times I did end up getting very frustrated and mad, though that was typically while striving for a perfect with the boss battles. If you are a fan of puzzle games, and especially games involving Mario, then pick this up right away. It's what the DS was made for and it's pretty much flawless.

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