The Minis are back and adorable as ever.
It’s a good thing Mario and Donkey Kong have been rivals for over 30 years. Otherwise we wouldn’t have the enjoyable and addictive action-puzzle video game series that is Mario vs. Donkey Kong. Despite the absence of the word ‘vs.’ in its title, Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move is the fifth game in the series, and the first on the Nintendo 3DS.
The game features four central game modes. In Mario’s Main Event, players use falling tiles to get a Mini to the goal before time runs out. In Puzzle Palace, players use a set of given tiles to find the best path for a Mini to reach the goal. In Many Mini Mayhem, players shift and rotate tiles to get all the Minis to the goal. And finally, in Giant Jungle, players collect stars while trying to get the Mini to the goal.
Each mode differs from the other, but in all of them, you have one main mission: do whatever it takes to get the Mini to the goal. And you do this via the touch screen, by creating a path from the starting point to the goal.
All the modes begin with easy-to-solve puzzles, though they eventually present a higher difficulty as you progress through the game. Compared to previous installments in the series, the game boasts tougher challenges that frequently frustrate and prompt players to give up. Fortunately, in three of the four modes, you can skip a ruthless puzzle and come back to it after relaxing for a bit.
Arguably, the best mode is Puzzle Palace, in which you must use all the tiles from a provided set in order to help the Mini reach the goal. Unlike the other three modes, in Puzzle Palace, you aren’t pressured to complete a puzzle within a set period of time – unless you’re aiming for a higher score. This mode also contains challenging puzzles, but its stress-free pace and chirpy tunes drive you in.
Take your time, Mini Peach. This is Puzzle Palace, after all.
You can relax from the main game by playing mini-games. There are four mini-games total – three of which are played using a slingshot to either launch Mini Marios to smash items, or to grab enemies and real them toward you via a grappling hook. In the fourth mini-game, Elevation Station, you elevate a Mini Mario to collect coins whilst avoiding projectiles. Akin to the main game, the mini-games are played via the touch screen. The mini-games completely ignore the Nintendo 3DS’ Circle Pad, even though it would’ve been a perfect way to play all of them.
Can I please wind you up using the Circle Pad?… No?!… Fine. Be that way.
Despite being on the Nintendo 3DS, the game appears to be less vivid and vibrant than its predecessor. For example, compared to Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem!, which was released in 2010 on the Nintendo DS, the backgrounds in the Nintendo 3DS game’s levels are bland.
If you are in the mood to get creative, you can build your own levels and share them with other players via the Internet. You can also play levels made by other players and save those levels to play later. After you’ve completed all the levels in the main game, playing user-created levels continues to test your puzzle-solving skills, and it is a great way to prolong your enjoyment of the game.
Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move is a great action-puzzle game. It’s also one of the finest Nintendo eShop titles and one of the best Nintendo 3DS games of the year. Because it features user-created levels, a level editor, mini-games and unlockables, in addition to over 180 puzzles, the game has a major replay value – especially considering it’s only $9.99. If you’re looking for a new, solid action-puzzle game, make sure to grab Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move when it arrives tomorrow, May 9th.