Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini Land MayhemPlatform: Nintendo DS , DSI
Category: Action Games, Puzzle, Strategy
Two classic Nintendo characters come together for an action packed puzzle and strategy game on the Nintendo DS. The story begins at the grand opening of Mario's new theme park, Mini Land. Mario has invited his glamorous friend Pauline as his special guest and has decided to give out Mini Pauline toys to the first 100 customers who visit his theme park. Enter Donkey Kong a few seconds too late and you have your recipe for chaos and disaster. He grabs the real Pauline into his arms as his consolation prize and doing what all large apes would do, he carries her off into the heart of Mini Land. Naturally hard wired to rescue the beautiful woman, Mario sets off with his Mini Marios to rescue Pauline, and so the adventure begins.
Along with the classic characters of Donkey Kong and Mario, Mario vs. Donkey Kong - Mini Land Mayhem features an assortment of levels designed in the classic Mario Bros format. These levels have all the fixings with their different leveled terrains complete with green pipes and floating coins. Throw in some red girders, purple conveyors, pink and yellow springs, rivets, spinning spike traps, blue ladders and your special level doors and you have yourself an action packed game. As each stage of the game is built around a particular attraction at Mini Land, the backgrounds of the levels have been designed to reflect these attractions, such as the dense vegetation of the jungle for Jumpy Jungle or the bright blue sky with a roller coaster in the distance for the Coasters Hills.
The characters you control in the game are your Mini Marios, which are little wind up mini versions of Mario. As you tap them into motion you see their little wind up keys spin on their backs and their motions appear just like little wind-up toys. There are also miniature wind up capsule toy versions of other Mario Bros characters, such as Toad or Princess Peach and some wind-up enemies such as Shy Guy and Circus Kong. Throughout the levels you maneuver your Mini Marios across bridges that you construct and over springs that have been placed in the right positions. The building elements of the game are well-designed and work as they should.
If it wasn’t already an obvious conclusion you could well have guessed that the sound in this game distinctly resembles the classic Mario Bros game as well as everything else. The intro features the classic song that almost everyone can recognize if not hum and there are all the classic sound effects, from the excited Wahoo from Mario, to the sound created while traveling through the pipes, to the happy little clinking of coin collecting. Each attraction features some different music including carnival stylings along with some jazzy swing beats, to name a few. There is a little bit of voice acting from Pauline, made up of some very terrified “Save mes” repeated again and again during the boss battles with Donkey Kong. All-in-all the sound was enjoyable and I was happy they stayed with the tried and true.
In order to save Pauline from Donkey Kong, Mario and his Mini Marios must navigate the attractions of Mini Land. Unfortunately, the levels are not all complete and are filled with peril including spinning traps and enemies. It is your responsibility to navigate the Mini Marios through the level and to the special level door by building paths using girders, strategically positioning springs and avoiding the enemies.
There are several building functions that are possible in each level. By sliding the stylus from one red rivet to another red rivet you will create a path with a girder. You only have a specific length of girder to build with so you may need to deconstruct one path by tapping on one of the red rivets in order to build one at another location. Connecting purple rivets will create a purple conveyor that will carry your Mini Mario across a distance. There are also different coloured springs that can be positioned in specially marked areas that will propel the Mini Marios either upwards or up and in the direction they were moving. Green pipes throughout the levels can also be traveled through.
The best idea when starting a level is to scope out all the parts and have an idea in your mind about how you think you can get your Mini Marios to their end destination. Keep in mind that you will also want to collect coins and Mario cards. You are able to pre-position some girders and springs before tapping your Mini Marios into action. When you have a good idea about how you want to start you can tap one of your Mini Marios into motion. I found it was easier to start with one Mini Mario and then bring the others into the action once I was close to completing the level. This way you only have to worry about one getting into trouble. Unfortunately, I was not always able to do this as sometimes it was unavoidable for my characters to come into contact with one another which makes both of them start moving.
As mentioned, the Mini Marios have a penchant for getting into trouble as they will keep moving regardless if there is a spinning trap or an enemy in front of them. If they run into an enemy or fall onto the spinning traps they will break and if they fall from too high of a ledge they will break. These little guys are fragile. Other things to keep in mind are that they will automatically jump one block, they can climb up reasonable slopes, slide down girders and will change direction if they run into a wall. While navigating your Mini Marios you will want to get them to the coins and Mario cards before they reach the door. If you collect all of the Mario cards in an attraction to spell out Mini Mario you will unlock a special mini game to play. At times there are also capsule toys that need to be directed to their appropriately labeled doors or doors that can only be opened by Mini Marios with keys.
There are so many things to keep in mind it is hard to remember them all while playing. If at any time you are unsure what an item is or if you want a little bit of help you can enter Help Mode by hitting the left bumper on your DS. By tapping on the item on the screen you will be able to get a description of the item and some information to help you on your way. Another helpful tool is the level map seen on the upper screen of your DS; this will show you the entire level map and help you plan your strategy. At times you may need to try a level multiple times before you figure out what works. Personally, I got to the point where I was completely done with a level and just wanted to move on. Luckily enough I discovered that after awhile you get an option that says Mini Guide. If you click on Mini Guide it will show you how to beat the level by playing itself through. You don’t get any coins or points but you do get to move on to the next level which is fantastic.
Once all eight levels have been passed in an attraction your Mini Marios will go head-to-head with Donkey Kong in the DK Levels. Here you will move one Mini Mario at a time in an attempt to get them to a switch in order to cause pain and damage to Donkey Kong. Donkey Kong will attempt to thwart your plans by destroying girders and cause your Mini Marios to fall to the ground. If you get all three of your Mini Marios to the three switches you will clear the level. This pattern will continue for each attraction; pass all the attractions to rescue Pauline.
In addition to the regular story mode there is also Construction Zone. This mode will allow you to have fun building your own levels, playing and sharing them with other players online. You are even able to download levels created by other players and participate in Challenge Mode online in which you have to create a level based on a theme.
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