88Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again is a sequel to the 2006 DS game Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis, and it isn’t just a quick follow-up to its predecessor. Instead, Nintendo went all out, giving you a full-blown sequel that could have released at retail for just 800 Nintendo Points; there’s some excellent value here, but just how good is the core gameplay?

Here are the basics for Mario vs. DK: You don’t control Mario, but you do control his Mini windup toys. These toys are placed in a room that is essentially a puzzle; you need to guide them to the exit, picking up coins, extra lives and cards that unlock special levels along the way, all the while avoiding enemies, spikes, fireballs, and other traps. Here’s the kicker though: you can’t control the Minis once you start them moving, so you need to make sure that you have (A) set them on the proper path and (B) make sure that you adjust their path for the environment as they walk around. There are very few levels where you can just set up blocks for them to walk on and then stop paying attention, as much of the work needs to be done while they are moving.

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
June 8, 2009

The first few levels are introductory, and each of the four worlds introduces you to a different type of puzzle piece. At first it’s the pink blocks that you use to get the Minis around over spikes, over enemies, or to use as steps. Later on you get magnetic pathways, enemies that turn into blocks when you hit switches, switches that open gates…there’s a lot going on in each puzzle by the time you hit the last standard world, and it keeps things fresh and challenging. Each of the four worlds consist of eight levels and a boss fight against Donkey Kong–the boss fights actually come from this game’s predecessor, but as far as I can tell are the only bits of rehashed content–and one special level that is exponentially more difficult than the levels you needed to complete to unlock it.

40 levels for $8 is a good deal, but that’s not all the game has. It turns out that Minis March Again actually has 100 levels, as more difficult rooms appear when you have completed the initial game. These rooms are not only more challenging for their design, but also due to the way the levels begin. In the first 40 levels, you were given time to survey the room and make changes to blocks in order to set your Minis on the right path. In these more difficult puzzles though, the Minis start to move after three seconds.

So now we’re talking 100 levels for $8, which given the quality and complexity of the title, is a steal. Nintendo didn’t stop there though: the level editor from March of the Minis has been included in its sequel, but now you can upload the levels you create using the Nintendo Wi-Fi connection and share them with friends and strangers. You have 140 slots for levels that either you create and keep or to download from others, giving you, at any one time, 240 levels of Minis March Again. You can search by the newest levels or the highest ranked, and it shows 50 at a time in each section. Nintendo is also planning on releasing new levels for the game periodically, meaning between the creativity of devoted level builders and Nintendo’s professionals, this game is going to have some serious replay value. I built a level myself to check out the editor, and it’s very simple and effective. You can build off of a template, or just erase everything in the template and start from scratch, but you have to score a gold star on your own level before it can be submitted. It was also a good feeling to check up on the level to see that it had been downloaded by someone else already the next day.

Graphically, this game is appealing, as it takes aspects of the Mario universe and puts a cel-shaded style on them. It’s no better looking than March of the Minis, but it retains that colorful, fun presentation that worked so well over two years ago. The sound is also fun, with some neat sound effects for the Minis as they bounce around the level bumping into stuff and falling.

There is enough going on in the level editor that the entire game could have been based around just that, with all of the content being user created or submitted by Nintendo at a later date. Instead, we get 100 pack-in levels with a promise of future content, and a constant drip of newly created levels from the game’s users. A game that you will play for months that works in both long stretches and in shorter, pocket gaming scenarios for all of $8 is simply fantastic. While it isn’t the best puzzle game on the service, it is the deepest and has the most replay value, and that counts for something.

Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again! is available exclusively for the Nintendo DSi via the DSiWare store, and costs 800 Nintendo Points.

About The Author

Marc Normandin was gaming editor of Blast from 2008 to mid-2010. You can reach him via e-mail at [email protected], or follow him on Twitter @Marc_Normandin

Leave a Reply