Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis Again Review

Ever since I bought my [amazonify]B001T8W2LW::text::::DSi[/amazonify], I’ve been sitting on the 1000 free DSi Points in order to get myself a quality download title when one came out. The initial offerings have thus far been fairly substandard, they look more like many of the more recent WiiWare titles (baring FFIV: After Years). The first real time title in my opinion occurred last week after E3 finally ended with Mario vs. Donkey Kong: The Minis March Again. I believe this is the third title in the series, but this is the first available as a completely downloadable game.

For those who have not heard of or played the previous games (at least the last one before this particular title), this is a series of small puzzle games. For this particular game, you are essentially Mario, sending out little mini-Mario robots through a bunch of mazes.  There are a bunch of obstacles along the way from shy guys, spikes, platforms to get across, conveyor belts and magnetic walls. This leads to what is actually a really interesting puzzle game.

It is kind of like Lemmings or Toki Tori except that you don’t really control the minis, you just control the path that they are taking. For instance, you have the ability to place bricks to dictate whether the minis go up to an upper platform or what not. You can set up your blocks before starting the minis, and the clock. But once the clock is going you have to make sure they go exactly in the right spot at the right time. Even more complicated is trying to time the minis at time to hit the exit door at the same time because they all have to hit within a few seconds of each other.

The game actually seems fairly easy. I finished up most of the boards with a gold star (meaning I got all the coins, cards, and 1ups within a relatively quick time) in just a couple of hours of playtime. However, you do have the ability to unlock a hidden board on every level (there are 6 total levels, each with 8 boards, 1 boss board and 1 hidden board) if you get a gold star on all the boards and the boss board. This is a little more tricky to do and I have unlocked a couple. My task now is to finish getting golds on everything.

Speaking of the Boss Boards, every level does have a boss battle between you and Donkey Kong. This consists of you shooting minis at Donkey Kong in various ways. Either directly, or you have to hit a platform above his head which drops objects on his head. I didn’t like these a great deal, but they did offer up some variety to the game which was somewhat appreciated.

The real gem of this game is the downloadable content and the construction zone. After you complete each Boss Battle, you unlock new tools within the construction zone. You can then go in and create your own levels which you can either play yourself or upload them to the game servers to let other players download and play your masterpiece. Even better, you can go to the servers and download what other people have put together, and from the initial look that I gave, these are often very complex puzzles (unfortunately at times a little too complex). They also let you rate other people’s boards and then sort the ratings so that you can pick the cream of the crop. I think the interface for finding boards is still a little clunky, but it does its job sufficiently.

Overall I think the game is definitely worth purchasing. It is 800 DSi Points which is a little steep, but really the value of the game is the downloading of other people’s boards. If not for this feature, I would say it might be a little steep if it was 500 Points, but the downloading means that you have nearly unlimited playtime with the game.