The toys are back in town.
Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis seems to me to be the logical sequel to the GBA version. With more processing capabilities, the touch controls, and the dual screen all available on the DS, this version although somewhat limited in scope, has much more depth and greater production values.
The gameplay is not as diverse at the GBA version, instead it’s more defined – and refined. If you’re familiar with the GBA or even the original GameBoy Color version then you’ll recognize exactly what inspired the core gameplay. Remember those miniature toy Marios that you collected? Well they are back and they are looking for someone to control them.
Instead of controlling Mario, you somewhat indirectly assume control of a variety of toy Marios. These wind-up Marios act like small bots. They don’t have any particular intelligence to them, they just move as directed. You can activate them and put them into motion but the moves are limited to those of an actual wind-up toy, with the exception of jumping which is a necessity to navigate the course. In this way you can see that you are going to be limited by the moves that you can make but you also have the ability to manipulate the environment around the toys. Although the game features platform elements in a traditional Super Mario, 2D world, the focus is definitely on the puzzle element as opposed to the action.
The environments are filled with blocks, platforms, enemies, collectibles and colorful, cartoonish graphics. It would be redundant to have direct control over Mario as though this were just a cheap imitation of Super Mario 3. As it is, we have a finite number of moves at our disposal and we have to round up as many Marios as we can and corral them to the exit all the while being mindful of their idiosyncratic movements. When activated, a toy Mario will begin to walk in either the left or right direction. With the stylus, you can stop him or completely change his direction. With another slash of the stylus you can have him jump. Jumping is an important move, one that you couldn’t play the game without. This allows the toy Mario to jump on switches, avoid enemies, land on enemies’ heads, hop on blocks and move to new platforms. There are typically a good number of these toy Marios in each level, and you’ll have to look after all of them – not just one. An active Mario can bump into an inactive Mario which will in turn activate it causing it to walk in the same direction that the other Mario was traveling, while that Mario reverses his direction. While the toy Mario’s moves may be predictable, the situation is anything but when a host of Marios become activated and start wandering around like active Alzheimer patients. You’ll have to quickly change their direction or turn them off to regain control of the situation before they active more Marios or end up destroying themselves.
The story is told by fantastic cutscenes, fully voiced and animated to perfection. We learn that Mario has opened a theme park devoted to the miniature toys that were so popular in the original game. These minis were once the collectible items in that game but have since risen to prominence to star in their own title. At the opening day of the park, Donkey Kong falls in love with Pauline who rejects the big ape’s advances for the mini Marios. Donkey Kong can’t take rejection well and kidnaps poor Pauline for the umpteenth time, taking her to the top floor of the theme park. It’s now up to the mini Marios to navigate the hazards, enemies and obstacles that stand in their way to reach the top of the park and save Pauline.
There are many instances in which you will be able to directly control the environment, which will indirectly influence the toy Marios. By tapping on a block with the stylus you can remove it and use it to build a bridge to another section or put it up as a barrier to keep the mindless Marios from walking over a ledge. Things tend to get hectic at times, especially when you have to look after a whole herd of toy Marios but that’s all part of the puzzle aspect of the gameplay. You can scroll the screen rather far in each direction and keep an eye on the different toy Marios. It would have been better if you could have a wider shot of the level on the other screen since it’s only used to display your score and other bits of information that aren’t exactly helpful to the gameplay. All of the action takes place on the bottom screen with the exception of the boss battles that uses both screens at the same time.
At first the gameplay might seem like a bit of a novelty, or mini-game if you will. There are some relatively easy levels but things do pick up in the middle. There are lots of things to concern yourself with and although you always seem on the brink of being overwhelmed, the situations aren’t as difficult as you imagine. The difficulty is medium at best which makes this a great choice for young gamers and weekend warriors. There are no multi-player modes but there is a level editor that lets you create your own customized levels and share them with the world via the WiFi system. You can store more than twenty games in your memory and upload them to the Nintendo server. Conversely you can also download other players’ creation. There are tons of items that you can use for your customized game, many of them you will have to unlock by playing through the game. This will give you an incentive to continue playing it and the virtually unlimited replay value due to all the customized variations will ensure that you continue to have fun with it.
The two biggest Nintendo stars are at it again. by Vaughn Smith
The sequel to the great puzzle/platformer Mario vs. Donkey Kong promises all new headscratchers involving all sorts of twists, toys and touches, thanks to the DS!
In the original Mario vs. Donkey Kong™, Mario™ was trying to find all the Mini Marios … but this time, it’s up to them to save the day. Players use the stylus and the touch screen to guide Mini Marios through mind-boggling, obstacle-filled levels.
Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2 allows players to create their own maps with a new level editor. Once a map is created, players can send it across the world via Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. Players also can use Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection to download maps created by others, check out a player-ranking system and access special bonuses. These unique features are sure to be a smash hit with puzzle fans everywhere.
Pauline returns! Pauline appeared in the original Donkey Kong as the woman that Mario was attempting to rescue, and was one of the first recognizable characters created by Nintendo. After a decades-long hiatus, Pauline is finally returning to the world of video games in Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2. Pauline is the object of Donkey Kong’s misplaced affections, so players must rescue her all over again.
It seems folks love those Mini Mario toys. So much so that the Mario Toy Company has expanded the line to include Mini Donkey Kong, Mini Toad and Mini Peach figures to the series. With all these toys bringing him more money than he knows what to do with, Mario decides to fulfill his lifelong dream and open a theme park called Super Mini Mario World.
The opening-day crowd includes Pauline and Donkey Kong, who immediately falls head over heels for the lovely lass. The proud ape tries to show off his Mini DK toy to Pauline, but she picks the Mini Mario toy over his and the jealous Donkey Kong becomes enraged. He smashes the displays, destroys the toys and takes Pauline to the top floor of the amusement park. Players must find Pauline and save the day.
We’ll have more info as Nintendo releases it.