Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis Review

Bonus Content! Miniature toys, a damsel in distress’ first appearance in decades, angry gorillas – this game has everything and it’s a perfect mention during our puzzle week.

By Francisco Naranjo. Posted 07/15/2010 17:30 2 Comments     ShareThis
The Final Grade
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Great use of the touch screen, charming audio and visuals, great for brief sessions, plenty of replay value
Poison Mushroom for...
The main game is a bit short, could have been more customizable

With the release of Minis March Again! for DSiWare last year and the announcement of Mini-Land Mayhem! at this year’s E3, the original sequel to Mario vs. Donkey Kong for GBA is probably already being forgotten by most gamers. Mario vs. Donkey Kong was a spiritual sequel to the 1994 Donkey Kong for Game Boy, a puzzle platformer game based on the arcade hit of the same name. March of the Minis is considerably more puzzle than platformer, and also considerably longer and overall more fun. The plot is very simple: Mario opens a theme park called Super Mini Mario World, DK decides it’s a good idea to take Pauline (her first appearance in decades) to the roof and it’s up to Mario and his toys to save her.

While similar in concept and looks, March of the Minis plays very differently from the first game. This time you control the Mini-Marios instead of Mario, using exclusively the stylus. The goal is to guide several Mini-Marios to the exit door, grabbing coins and cards to increase the score and unlock minigames.

Even if it’s usual for a game to be panned for the excessive use of stylus gameplay, it works flawlessly in this game. Mini-Marios are activated and deactivated simply by touching them once with the stylus. When activated you can change their direction, jump, enter pipes and perform other actions by sweeping the stylus across the Mini-Mario you’re currently controlling. This is quite simple and intuitive, but it gets tricky if two Mini-Marios are too close, since you’d need to be extra precise with the stylus in order to not get both Mini-Marios to do the same.

Mario vs. Donkey Kong: March of the Minis ScreenshotMario vs. Donkey Kong: March of the Minis Screenshot

There are several settings and stage elements that keep the game fresh and interesting until the end, like Mario’s trademark Fire Flower and Donkey Kong Hammers, magnet-themed stages that allow the Minis to walk on the walls without falling, switches that open certain gates while closing others, pipes, classic Mario enemies, etc. The first rooms start out easy, but gradually become more complex and difficult, especially when you have to control more than one Mini-Mario at once.

There are a total of 8 floors, 2 basements and one roof, which consists of the final fight against Donkey Kong. Each floor has 9 rooms, one minigame and a Donkey Kong fight. These Donkey Kong stages revolve around shooting Mini-Marios using a cannon on the bottom screen, trying to hit different objects that will consequently hurt Donkey Kong. They’re fun and not particularly difficult, but a nice change from the main game. Overall, it’s a bit on the short side, but replaying to get better scores is actually fun.

Progressing through the different floors unlocks different construction kits for the Construction Zone, the game’s level editor. March of the Minis doesn’t lack any replay value, especially considering you can create your own levels and share them both wirelessly and via Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.

Mario vs. Donkey Kong: March of the Minis ScreenshotMario vs. Donkey Kong: March of the Minis Screenshot

The only requisite to upload a stage is to beat it first, this effectively prevents any broken level from getting to your DS. Once you’re done with the main game, you’ll find yourself spending lots of time with the Construction Zone. Mini-Peach, Mini-Toad and Mini-DKs can also be unlocked for the Construction Zone, with their respective themed stage kits.

The presentation is superb right from the beginning, with the game starting with a pretty good looking 3D rendered intro video. March of the Minis is colorful and charming as expected from a Mario game, with the Minis looking plastic glossy and everything looking exactly like a mash-up of early Donkey Kong and 2D Mario games. The cinemas really add to the game’s atmosphere. The music and sound effects are pretty good, the jazzy laid back versions of classic Mario and Donkey Kong tunes definitely fit the “puzzly” feeling of the game.

Other than maybe more customization options, Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis doesn’t really lack anything. It’s a very solid and polished game that simply refuses to get old even 4 years after its release date. Completely recommended to fans of puzzles and platformers, a definite must buy for people who enjoyed Minis March Again! but never got to play the previous game.

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