Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem
Posted 2 years ago By - Marko Djordjevic
Since its launch nearly two years ago, there are have only been a handful of really enjoyable DSiWare titles. One of those highlights was the puzzle-platformer Mario vs Donkey Kong: Minis March Again. Since it essentially went under the radar, Nintendo decided to release the next game in the franchise, Mario vs Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem as a retail release. It takes a lot of the same mechanics and features of the DSi game, adds more content and gives fans of both the puzzle genre and of the series reason to rejoice.
Mario and Pauline are giving free toys to the first 100 people who enter their new amusement park and alas, Donkey Kong is the 101st person and doesn’t get one. Of course he gets angry and grabs Pauline and we begin our quest through eight different attractions in order to hunt him down and save her.
For those who haven’t played a previous Mario vs Donkey Kong game, the task is simple: lead your various Mini-Marios through different puzzles in order to reach Donkey Kong. The various Minis begin at one side of the level with the exit on the other. It’s not simply starting them up and watching them go though; every stage requires you to interact with the environment, leading them in the right direction and to get them to the exit en masse a la the classic Lemmings franchise.
Mini-Land Mayhem does a great job in mixing up the challenges of each stage. Every attraction offers a different gameplay mechanic that needs to be used in order to advance. Early on, you need to create paths using bridges or conveyor belts; later on, you might need to use a spring or cannon to reach higher locations. These are not exclusive as each attraction offers a new object that will be used. As you progress, so does the complexity of stages and later on in the game, there will be times when three or four different object types will be required to advance.
Those familiar with the series will automatically take control of the Minis and will brush through the initial 8 attractions in a matter of hours. Thankfully though, the amount of content here is what will keep you occupied for twice as long. Each attraction has 8 main levels, a boss battle and the potential of unlocking a bonus mini-game.
On top of that, there is even some variety within the eight levels of each attraction. The fourth level is always a “multiple Mini level”; rather than simply taking your Mini-Marios and leading them to the exit, you will have different Minis. For example, a Mini-Princess Peach and/or Mini-Toad, and each need to go to their own respective doors. These variant minis are always locked in a shell, so your first task is to take your Mini-Mario and lead it to an “egg” to unlock the other Minis. Once freed, you need to direct each to their respective doors to complete the level.
The other variant level is the 8th. In each attraction, the final level before the Boss Battle always involves taking a Mini-Mario with a key and having them reach the door first to unlock it. These aren’t too different than other levels and only require a good strategy that has the Key-holder Mini reaching the door first.
Within each level, there are two special items that you should collect before hitting the exit. The first are Mario Coins - which later unlock additional Special Stages - and the other are Letter Cards - which spell out Mini-Mario and unlock Mini-Games that earn you even more Mario Coins.
It doesn’t end there in terms of content. Upon completing a level, a score screen tallies up your how you did on each level, how quickly you finished it and if you managed to collect all the coins and collectibles. If you reach the target score, a trophy is rewarded. Once you’ve finished the main game, these will unlock Expert Levels that will really challenge you.
Even with all the extra unlockables, one of the cooler features is the Construction Zone, which allows the creation of your own levels or download what others have made. For those wanting to get their create on, there are a few mandatory tutorial sections which give you a feel for the controls. However, once you begin creating your own levels, the possibilities are endless. The only set-back is that in order to make some really complex levels, you will need to complete the main game. Each time an attraction is completed, you unlock the ability to use items that part of the game introduced.
As well as simply creating and sharing levels, there is a pretty nifty Challenge Mode that has you taking a template set-up by Nintendo and then generating your own level. After you’ve worked with what they’ve given you, you can then submit it for others to play and judge, with winners getting bragging rights.
If you’re not that creative, the amount of content available to download - either created by Nintendo or other users - is incredible. Searching is simple as both Public and Nintendo levels are allocated in separate sections and downloading one or many will only take moments.
The visual and audio quality for Mini-Land Mayhem are what you would expect from a Nintendo developed title. In a game built around platforms and deep level designs, you get a lot of variety and interacting content. All the different minis animate really nicely and the same goes for the enemies that sometimes litter specific levels. The highlight though has to be the Boss Battles as each are incredibly well designed and challenging.
As for the audio, the in-game music is really good with some nicely composed tunes that bring back memories of past Mario titles. A cute touch is Mario’s interaction with you when opening or closing your DS. Upon closing, he will always respond with a comment; these could be a simple “ouch” or even yelling at you in gibberish; upon reopening, he reacts positively. It may seem simple in nature but it does add humor to the game and some may be tempted to open and close their units just to hear what he might say.
For those who fear challenging puzzle games, there is little reason to feel that way with Mini-Land Mayhem. While there are certainly some difficult levels, it is only the battles against Donkey Kong hinself at the end of each attraction that poses any real test. These will take the most from you as DK will not give you an easy time; but there is never the situation where it feels cheap or that you’ll feel cheated. If there are levels that do pose a challenge, after about five failed attempts, the options of seeing a MiniGuide, showing exactly how to complete a level, becomes available. This feature is well known in other Nintendo games and although most seasoned players won’t have to worry about this feature, for others, the addition is much appreciated.
There may not have been too many changes to the series since its GBA inception, Mario vs Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem is an incredibly enjoyable puzzler that will keep you occupied for hours on end. Even upon completing the main campaign, the bonus content and the ability to create, share and download additional levels can have you playing this for months after finishing what is initially offered.
+ Easy to grasp mechanics
+ So much content! Including unlockables and creation tools
+ Different ways of tackling levels allows offers greater replayability
- Outside of the Donkey Kong boss battles, the game is fairly easy
1 year ago :: I Heart Geeks!
1 year ago :: Professor Layton And The Last Specter
2 years ago :: Radiant Historia
2 years ago :: Pokemon Black/White
2 years ago :: De Blob 2
2 years ago :: Dragon Quest VI : Realms of Revelations
2 years ago :: Kingdom Hearts Re:coded
2 years ago :: Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City
2 years ago :: Professor Layton and the Unwound Future
Download us here!
Game Junkies podcast and audio interviews
Release Date : 2010/11/14
System : Nintendo DS
Publisher : Nintendo
Developer : Nintendo
Category : Adventure
ESRB : E
7.0 / 10
8.5 / 10
8.0 / 10
8.7 / 10