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Mario Vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem! Review

danielrbischoff By:
GENRE Arcade/Puzzle 
E Contains Comic Mischief

What do these ratings mean?

Super Lemming Land 2: 6 Golden Coins

That rat bastard Donkey Kong is at it again. He just can't seem to leave poor Pauline alone! Time and again since 1981, Donkey Kong has made it his business to ruin Mario's day by stealing... someone and forcing the mustachioed plumber into another daring rescue mission. What did Mario do to piss him off so bad?

click to enlargeSince Mario Vs. Donkey Kong on the Game Boy Advance, the two have had a slightly miniature rivalry. Each Mario Vs. DK title has appeared on Nintendo's handheld platforms with gameplay focusing more on managing mini-Marios and less on actual platforming. You might never have guessed that micromanagement would have appeared on Mario's resume, but here it is again.

Mini-Land Mayhem follows the trend of giving the player direct control over the landscape the minis are roaming over. As you progress through each chapter, new Lemming-like methods of getting your mini-Marios from point A to point B are revealed. Each time a new puzzle element is introduced to the player, Mini-Land Mayhem makes sure to let players get their feet wet before forcing them to jump right in.

In the beginning, the player is only responsible for stretching girders from point to point. By the end of the game, mini-Marios will be walking up walls, climbing ladders you create for them, and even warping back and forth between like-colored pipes. It might sound like madness, and at times it is, but Mini-Land Mayhem never lets it get too complicated.

Each level is essentially a giant moving puzzle. The earliest levels in each world establish how the newest element functions while the later levels test the player's coordination with added challenges. Halfway through a world, you'll find your mini-Marios are joined by mini-Princess Peaches, mini-Toads, and mini-Donkey Kongs. Guiding all of these minis to their respective doors can be disorienting, but it's always easily solvable. The same can be said of final-level Key puzzles. One mini-Mario carries the key to the door so the player will have to coordinate the minis such that the door is unlocked first.

click to enlargeThe final battles with Donkey Kong at the end of each world are the most frustrating and most rewarding levels in the game. Rather being able to trial-and-error your way to a perfect score, Donkey Kong will frequently toss enemies in your way. Just when you thought you had the perfect path laid out, a shy guy will interfere and force you to lose a mini.

Mini-Land Mayhem oozes nostalgic charm. The graphics are bright and colorful and representative of all the worlds Mario has visited in the past. The music is stellar too, taking classic Mario themes and putting a toy-box spin on them. Even if you aren't over 20 and you haven't played every Mario title ever, you'll find a lot to like in the aesthetic.

Despite having a short main campaign, Mini-Land Mayhem encourages perfection by offering up trophies for beating target scores in each level. If that isn't enough replay value, it also allows you to hop on the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection and download new levels once you're done with the main game. For every world the player beats, a new set of development tools opens up in the Construction Zone, allowing you to create your own sadistic mini-Mario death trap. You can upload those to the Wi-Fi Connection and see what people think of your creation.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I probably sunk way too much time into the original Mario Vs. Donkey Kong title for the GBA. I loved controlling Mario, using him to pick up minis and solving puzzles with everybody's favorite hero. Despite some reluctance to simple management gameplay, Mini-Land Mayhem outperformed my expectations. Play it on the go, at home, or on the toilet seat. Just don't clog the drain.
B+ Revolution report card
  • Minis look great
  • Clever puzzles build on the elements
  • Classic soundtrack clarms
  • Create your own and download new puzzles
  • I want more of the main campaign!
    Reviews by other members
    No member reviews for the game.


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