Mario vs Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem
The previous DS game in which Nintendo mascots Mario and Donkey Kong really went head to head dates from 2006. No platform action in this series, but puzzles that need solving with mini-versions of the well-known icons from gaming history. That’s no different with this version from 2011, and that’s good. After all, we love Mario vs Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem.
The story is quite funny. Mario opens Mini-Land, some sort of funpark, and offers the first hundred visitors a present. Perfect marketing, you would think, but that seems to be not the case when his idea turns against him. Donkey Kong also visits, but unfortunately gets ticket 101 so he gets nothing! Of course he’s not pleased and abducts… Pauline! And guess what: Pauline is a friend of Mario and the predecessor to Peach. Contrary to normal Mario games he doesn’t start jumping and running around himself, but sends out mini versions of himself to do the dirty work.
These mini-Marios are some sort of robots and are perfect for this game. They fit brilliantly in the funny atmosphere with their Lemmings-like determination and are as cute and beautiful as the surroundings in which you play. Graphically things may look a bit cartoony but it’s one of the best-looking games I’ve recently played on a handheld.
The gameplay is quite simple. You click with your stylus on a character after which it starts moving until it dies a horrible death on for instance some metal spikes, or reaches the exit. The latter is of course the idea and you and your stylus are responsible for evading enemies, building bridges fast, start up machines, select stairs, use warp pipes or make jumps. This objective is made more difficult as sometimes you meet other characters who need to be guided to their own door, you need to find and pick up objects, and because you need to get your Marios all safe in a few seconds once the first reaches the exit. On top of that all kinds of coins can be collected and additional content unlocked, something that greatly helps with the replayability.
Forget playing this game like with Professor Layton where you can spend hours on a solution like some lazy ass. In this land of chaos you need to react fast, improvise and keep an eye on several different things at the same time. Luckily the learning curve is soft and everyone will be able to reach the end without too much problems. For hardcore players there are the Expert Stages which are a bit more difficult, as well as Rainbow Challenges and some mini-games for variation. And if that isn’t enough, once you’ve finished you can redo everything in the Plus Mode which makes all stages a bit more challenging.
Finally a word on the editor. Here you can create stages yourself and then share them or download some from others through Wi-Fi. If you have no confidence in fellow gamers, then you can also get some levels that Nintendo have put online themselves.
Mario vs Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem is simply said a really fun, beautiful, tightly created game with tons of content that will please young and old. There’s little more to be said; if you’ve got a DS, DS Lite, DSi, DSi XL or a 3DS this is definitely one to get