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Nintendo DS Review: Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem

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Mario, Donkey Kong and Nintendo have long since gone hand-in-hand, from the very beginning of gaming. With this latest twist on these mainstay characters, in Mario vs. Donkey Kong Mini-Land Mayhem, gamers are introduced to a rather unique experience and twist to the norm. In Mini-Land Mayhem, there is no jumping, head bopping or ball throwing from Mario, as we have come to expect from this little red overall-dressed man. Instead, there are conveyor belts to be built, warp pipes to travel and girders to place, among other nifty travel techniques to build and use.

Players must use their skills and wits, in this puzzle-based game, to construct paths which correctly guide mini wind-up Marios through different scenes and levels to reach doors to move on to the next stage/level. With this being said, players must react quickly because once the mini Marios are set to action, girders must be zapped and replaced in other areas before the Marios fall onto spikes and meet their doom. Also, once one mini Mario reaches the door, the rest must follow very quickly behind, before the timer runs out. Therefore, the player must have a “game plan” of sorts set in their mind before tapping on the mini Marios and setting them to action. A feature that I found very helpful, in the beginning of playing this game, is that after a certain number of failed attempts at passing a level, there will be an automatic help mode option that will pop up. Players can then tap on this, if they choose, and the scene will play out before the player, showing how to solve that level. This gives the player an idea how to play further levels as well, by setting in there mind ways to solve the puzzles. This option was incredibly helpful for me when I first began playing Mini-Land Mayhem, simply because I am not one to read instructions and am more the “play around” and figure out on my own type. This also aided me in realizing the strategy that I could apply in further levels of play. Remember, this is only an option that appears and players do not have to use this method.

Other features of the game are unlockable mini-games, several amusement park attractions and a special Donkey Kong level that can be accessed, after the player has cleared all other areas in an attraction. All of these variations are just within the game itself, thus, the tip of the Mini-Land Mayhem iceberg!

In addition to the single player game itself, there are virtually endless game play possibilities. The “Construction Zone” is an area that gives gamers the opportunity to create, play, edit and share their very own game levels. After a short tutorial, players can create their level using a variety of templates, game rules, characters, movable objects, backgrounds and several additional options. Once the player has created their level, they have the option to share it online, via Nintendo WFC. Here the player can store up to one hundred and sixty additional puzzles for game play, thirty friends and/or favorite creators and choose to use either a private or public upload, depending on who the player wants to view and play their creations. A maximum of twenty levels can be uploaded at any one time. Another facet to Mini-Land Mayhem is the “Challenge Mode,” where players can create custom levels based on certain rules set by Nintendo and then submitted to an online competition to be judged by other players.

As I mentioned earlier, game play and options in Mario vs. Donkey Kong Mini-Land Mayhem is virtually endless. There is a possibility of further levels released by Nintendo in the future.  This is in addition to the included 200 puzzle levels already on the game. A gamer’s dream.

I have to say that when I first received this game, my eight-year-old daughter grabbed it and off she went. In the beginning, she was a bit frustrated (yes, she is like me, no instructions, just right to the play aspect), however once she figured it out, she played and played and now loves it. Next, hubby got his hands on the game and is also hooked. Finally, I was able to snatch it away from both of them to have a bit of one-on-one time with my Dsi and Mario and Donkey Kong. I, like my daughter, went through that frustration stage, then once I caught on, was hooked. For me, Mini-Land Mayhem is one of those additive games where you continuously say to yourself “Okay, one more level…” then that one level turns into two, then three and before you know it, an hour has passed! Amazing.

I do want to mention that, while I enjoy the traditional Mario games, I have never been one that was enthralled with them. I become frustrated with games easily and, lets be honest, I just suck at trying to get Mario, Luigi and whomever else across gaps, bouncing on mushrooms, zapping flesh-eating flowers with fireballs, etc. However, with Mini-Land Mayhem, there is none of that, well, there is the stress of getting that little wind-up guy to go the correct way and getting those girders drawn before the poor guy becomes victim to the spikes. This game, however, is more of a thought-process and puzzle lovers, as well as Mario/Donkey Kong lovers will quickly become attached to this latest and newest version of Nintendo‘s Mario games. The only complaint that I have, thus far, is the fact that players cannot control the little wind-up Marios, as far as the speed in which they move. They are at a set speed and really the only thing that can be controlled is their destination, by using the movable objects. The speed of the minis may not always be an issue, except when one has already reached it’s destination and gone through the door and the others are still on their way.

Overall, I have to say that Mario vs. Donkey Kong Mini-Land Mayhem is sure to be a hit with a vast audience and age range. I know it is a new favorite at our house. Game play is fun, creative, thought-provoking and virtually endless. An excellent purchase and play value. 

To discover more about this game, watch videos, and more, please visit here.  Also note, Mario vs. Donkey Kong Mini-Land Mayhem is due to release Sunday, November 14th.

Mario vs. Donkey Kong Mini-Land Mayhem is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB for comic mischief.


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About April Pohren

  • You don’t need to know

    This game is so so cool