Blast from the Past: Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem! (NDS)

9

Amazing

During the grand opening of the theme park, mini-land, Donkey Kong is a little too late to receive a gift upon arriving at the park. He loses his cool and of course kidnaps one of the sponsors of this grand event, Pauline. Due to this mayhem, Mario has to gather together his mini-mario toys and set out to save the damsel.

Mini-Mario?

The mini-Marios are adorable and function as wind-up toys. Once tapped with the player’s stylus in this puzzle game, they’ll continue to move in the direction their facing until coaxed by certain elements triggered by the player, or until they’ve met their demise within one of the many traps set out in the park. Stages are set out in a puzzle formation of platforms that you’ll be able to manipulate in order to get the mini-Marios across the level safely. By creating platform beams across open spaces, traps and are able to also use the beams to climb in an upward facing direction, in order to reach higher platforms.

Although the mini-Marios are constantly in motion once tapped, the game does freeze when the player is about to drag a beam across an open space, allowing players more time to strategise. Beams aren’t the only objects that will help guide the mini-Marios across the stage’s traps and open spaces. As players progress to higher levels which consists of a different area of the theme park, more objects will be unlocked such as a trampoline type spring to shoot the mini-Marios up into the air whilst the player tries to simultaneously create a beam across an open space for them to land on. Warp pipes from the Mario universe are also available in certain levels, and transport the mini-Marios across the screen to reach spaces that are not attainable by the beams. In addition, conveyor belts are also incorporated into the later levels where players will be able to change their direction of movement adding an even more complex puzzle into the mix of things. Enemies are also thrown into the mix at later stages. When facing enemies in a stage, players will have to guide the mini-Marios to the hammer first before taking on the enemy.


On with Donkey Kong

After each boss fight, a new level of stages are introduced with a new “attraction” which is a new challenge introduced to the levels. These challenges are of course the various objects mentioned above. The boss fights are spread across both screens of the DS, unlike the normal levels which are controlled from the bottom screen. Each fight is viewed in the way you would as if you’re playing the original Donkey Kong. In each boss fight, the player has to guide the mini-Marios to the top of the screen where DK has Pauline kept hostage. The mini-Marios will have to activate a button which sends an electrical shock to the platform that DK is standing on. After three hits, DK grabs Pauline and escapes to the next level of stages. The boss fights are given a timer but thankfully aren’t too difficult to figure out. Once you’ve selected the paths, you’ll have to navigate through enemies and also avoid barrels thrown from the upper platform. These barrels can also be stopped by creating a platform above the mini-Marios.

In each boss fight, the player has to guide the mini-Marios to the top of the screen where DK has Pauline kept hostage.

One of the things I enjoyed most about Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem! is the fact that every level didn’t just include more objects to work with but also enemies within the levels and characters to guide across the stages. In later levels players will have to guide not only mini-Mario, but a number of other characters from the Super Mario universe such as mini-Toad and mini-Princess Peach.

Although some of its stages can drive players crazy, there is something that Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem! entices players to do. And that is to keep trying. No matter how many times you fail, you’ll want to pick the DS back up and try again. The levels are well thought out, creating multiple routes of success for the players to follow to the exit. However, there is only one path for the player to follow in order to collect all the coins laid out within the level, and that’s where the completionist is rewarded. Of course, the other challenge is also the fact that when multiple mini-Marios have to be guided towards the exit, the player has to make sure that they’re all close behind each other. As soon as the first mini-Mario enters the exit door, there is very limited time before the door closes.

No matter how many times you fail, you’ll want to pick the DS back up and try again.

It’s hard to believe that in most cases everything is happening at the same time on one screen. Quite literally, there is no movement in most cases of the screen and players will have access to the full layout of the stage. Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem! also utilises the DS in the best ways. The stylus allows players a faster movement to elements that control the direction of the characters and the fact that the console is dual screens gives the developer more of a landscape to play around with. Which is the case when Mario has to take on Donkey Kong in the boss stages.

Players are also offered a creative mode within the game called The Construction Zone. Where you’ll be able to construct entire levels and test them out once done. This is a ton of fun especially if you’re playing with a partner to challenge each other.

All in all Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem! is incredibly fun with high replayability value. The mini characters are adorable and the music fits into the mayhem perfectly. If players listen closely while on the level selector screen whilst switching between attractions, you’ll hear the same track but with a variance in a few different instruments that coincide with the theme of the level. Such as the drums in the Jumpy Jungle level. It’s the small things that make this game a memorable one, such as putting the DS into sleep mode, which will trigger a quirky sound effect by Mario saying “Ow my head” or “hey you come back here”.  And of course, another quirky message upon opening the DS. It’s things like this that remind us that Nintendo’s not just a video game developer but also that wacky toy maker. If you enjoy puzzle titles and love adorable things, make sure you give this Blast from the Past a shot. In the words of Mario, “Let’s Go”.

Good

  • Adorable Mini Super Mario characters
  • The music is delightfully nostalgic
  • Fun quirks, like putting the DS to sleep has Mario asking the player to come back
  • Clever level designs
  • Construction mode has players creating their own levels

Bad

  • Some of the puzzles are a little too easy

Summary

The most fun you'll have on the DS with a puzzle game. Characters are adorable, the music is delightful and levels are entertaining. Jump in and help Mario save Pauline from the notorious Donkey Kong once more.
9

Amazing

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