It’s that time again. Time for another entry of the Mario Vs Donkey Kong franchise to raise its mechanically-driven head. Occasionally the latest rendition treats us to something new to keep our interests ignited however Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars fails to bring anything ground breaking to the series. One could argue that a winning formula shouldn’t be tampered with but at the same time a little innovation would go a long way.
The mechanics in Tipping Stars are rock solid and really can’t be faulted. The main campaign is compiled of six worlds, with eight levels each. In each one of the levels the goal is ‘simple’; navigate wind-up Mario-themed toys to a given destination while avoiding spike pits, Shy Guys, Donkey Kong toys that furiously flings you off course, all while collecting tokens and coins in order to 3-star the level. It all sounds a little overwhelming but it takes the first three worlds to start becoming remotely interesting. The levels are generally very easy to complete even if you do want to perfect each scenario. Fast forward to the later levels and it’s a different matter all together, some of the levels are tough… frustratingly tough. Will a little persistence and plenty trial and error movements you should be able to get through all the worlds within a mere four to five hours. It really is a pity that the game only really becomes worthwhile from world five onwards. Each world introduces a new gameplay feature. You start off with the basics; dragging and removing red construction beams in order to assist the Mario-themed Minis arriving at their destination. Each world introduces something new without abandoning the features and tricks you’ve adopted from the previous worlds. These first eight levels essentially act as your tutorial and you should be able to perfect each of these levels within a matter of seconds.
The true value of the game doesn’t come in the form of the original campaign though. There are three unlockable bonus worlds, as well as two unlockable worlds to add to the original six-world outing. This content not only introduces even more mechanics but also tests you far more than the original levels. Unfortunately these levels will only be reached by puzzle enthusiast as by this time most would be sick of the original campaign. The navigation is done through simplistic 3DS (or WiiU) touchscreen gestures, making the control scheme accessible to all. Some of the levels require some amount of scrolling which is managed by a simple input from the D-Pad. The controls couldn’t be simpler. Tipping Stars has a feature whereby you can create your own levels which can be shared via streetpass or the online community.
While Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars fails to bring anything significantly new to the series as far as gameplay mechanics are concerned it makes up for the shortfalls in other areas. Tipping Stars is the first Nintendo title to feature the cross-purchase platform meaning that regardless of whether you purchase the Wii U or 3DS version, you get the other game free, providing your consoles are linked to the same NNID account.
Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars isn’t a ground breaking title, in fact it’s a rinse/repeat formula to the ninth degree. If you are a die-hard fan of puzzle titles then there is no doubt that you should get hold of this even if it is for the custom levels alone. For non-puzzle game fans this is basically Lemmings with a Mario themed skin placed over it.