Game Review

Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again! Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Paul Schreiner

Is it a shameless cash-in or a worthy expansion of its forbearer?

Some have already voiced their concerns as to whether Minis March Again! is a shameless cash-in by Nintendo, simply copying Mario vs Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis and not really providing us with extra content or even new stages at all – which is certainly not true. What they should have asked is whether it is a good game in its own right, regardless of any similarities. The latter will have to be answered with a resounding yes.

For those unfamiliar with the earlier DS title, Donkey Kong has been slighted yet again – this time by being denied entrance to the newly opened Super Mini Mario World. In his rage he kidnaps Pauline, and it is up to Mario to rescue her via the help of his mechanical friends, the Mini Marios, which traverse a variety of treacherous stages in order to reach the highest floor to ultimately defeat Donkey Kong.

As it is a puzzle game, it is your job to figure out how to manoeuvre your Minis around the obstacles (i.e. spikes, piranha plants, shy guys) littered throughout the given stage to reach the exit gate. But beware! While it was possible to directly manipulate your Minis in MvDK 2 via the stylus, this is certainly not the case here. Think of your Minis as lemmings: once you activate them they won't stop until their either dead or have reached the gate, and they'll only change direction when they bump into an obstacle which can't be overcome. Fortunately, you're given unlimited preparation time to plan your move – at least in the beginning – and there are a variety of ways to manipulate the environment to progress, as in the likes of re-usable purple blocks (for building bridges, stairs, and even walls in pre-defined areas), box springs, conveyor belts, timed pop-up walls, etc.

You have to be careful not to let one of your Minis go kaput, otherwise you'll have to restart the stage and lose a life. That said, you also have to make sure that none of your Minis goes wondering off while another exits the stage. As soon as the first Mini reaches the gate a countdown timer is displayed above it. If the next Mini doesn't reach the gate before the countdown runs out the gate will be barred and you fail and also a life – this makes clearing the later stages a bit trickier. Speaking of lives, it's a mystery to us why they were added, as they don't seem to have any negative or positive effects on the game. Once you run out you can simply restart with five new ones. It's not a real detractor, but it's a bid of an odd inclusion.

If you were worried about seeing anything familiar you can breathe easy. While the game may share assets with MvDK2, all of the stages here are brand-spanking new, and there are plenty of them to go around in MMA. In fact, the game comes with a total tally of 100, including eight boss stages. Each of the four themes (which are floor-based) come in a set of ten stages, the tenth of which can only be played if you've collected all MINIMARIO cards throughout the nine before; this special stage is much more challenging than the others. The first four floors are basically there to teach you the ropes and gradually introduce new game mechanics. Once beaten the 'plus' floors become available, which provide a far tougher challenge, especially due to the fact that you're not given any preparation time. After a three-second countdown all of the Minis will start moving, and it will have you scrambling to keep them safe. Add to that the twelve rooftop stages, half of which become unlocked with each cleared set of four floors, and eight basement stages, which are unlocked based on your performance throughout the game – the more gold stars, the more are available – and you’ve got a truly great challenge.

As you might expect, the presentation is quite cartoony, as practically all Mario games are, and characters, enemies and protagonists alike, have all been given a pre-cell-rendered treatment which is actually quite appealing to the eye. It may not win any major awards, but visually everything fits together quite nicely. It's also well complemented by the audio which is of typical Mario flavour, although the "Yipee!" each Mini exclaims as he reaches the gate has a striking resemblance to Lemmings. The background music consists of remixed Mario medleys and even a remix of the Donkey Kong Country theme. In general, there's no jarring experience, and it's all rather pleasant.

Before we forget: another big draw (some may think of it as the biggest) of the game comes from the construction site mode, which could extend MMA's replayability quite a bit. Here you can build, edit, and play stages of your own devising, you can share them with friends, and most importantly you can upload and download stages to and from Nintendo's server via WiFi. Finding new stages couldn't be easier: just touch the corresponding search category and you're presented with a plenitude of stages. Select the one you're interested and it'll download to your DSi before you can even blink. It literally takes less than a second to download a stage, which makes us wonder how small those files really are. You're able to store up to a total of 140 stages. Once you've played said stage you're given the ability to rate it, which will be uploaded to the server the next time you connect to it. While at the time of writing there are a slew of lazy designs floating around that are barely altered templates, there are also quite some clever ones available. Clearly, some folks are already familiar with the game.

Conclusion

All around Minis March Again is a very competent, fun, and engaging package. It is easily one of the top games to be had on DSiWare at this time and in the foreseeable future. Just think of all the possible ways you can drive your friends (and even complete strangers!) up the wall with your devious designs! And if building such contraptions isn't your cup of tea, you're still bound to have a grand old time being the lab rat.

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User Comments (65)

LEGEND_MARIOID

#1

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

I have the retail game which I would give 9/10 for....I'm going to download this when it finally comes to EU. Sounds like Mario v DK 2.5 or maybe even 2.75, but not a 3. Still not enough to deter me.

Chunky_Droid

#3

Chunky_Droid said:

I've been waiting for this review, and I was one of the ones who had concerns, but no longer! Definitely going to buy this now!

warioswoods

#4

warioswoods said:

I jumped at this one on launch, and I'd say it is the best $8 you can spend on DSiWare, hands down; great presentation, endless replayability.

terry908

#5

terry908 said:

$8 is just so worthy for this game.. total of 10 big worlds with 8 levels each. I think this is better than MFC

Mario_maniac

#6

Mario_maniac said:

I never finished March of the Minis, but I can definitely see myself getting this when it's released here.

Marioman64

#7

Marioman64 said:

OMG i need to let my heart out SOMEWHERE on this game

this is SO MUCH BETTER than the ds version! seriously! first off, no more of that sliding your stylus left and right to keep a mini mario in place, because you can't interact with them! so much better! second, with level downloads, you can download ANYONE'S LEVEL! and 120 OF THEM! and u can delete them after! it's amazing. you can upload your own too, and feel proud when people download your level (it shows number of downloads for each)

endless levels, fixed gameplay, and it's just epicly awesome all over. and putting it on dsiware makes it so that its built in to everyone's system, so more people play it more often, meaning MORE LEVELS. i give it 64/10 stars!

Marioman64

#8

Marioman64 said:

you can download 140 at a time, not 120, sorry I love mario 64 so much that number must be stuck in my head :3

noname875

#9

noname875 said:

"As it is a puzzle game, it is your job to figure out how to manoeuvre"
You spelled Maneuver wrong. other then that great review.

thewiirocks

#10

thewiirocks said:

I was also pleasantly surprised when I downloaded this game. I had heard the number 16 bandied about for the number of levels. Which made me wary of the value of this title. But in the end, this game is worthy of being a cartridge game. If we see more of this, DSiWare has a bright future ahead. :)

As for the level size. I'd be shocked if it's more than a few kilobytes in size. If you count the grid, it's 16x12 blocks in size. If you assume that each block is identified by a 4 byte value (32-bit integer), that's 192 bytes. Throw in a bit of extra info for where the door and the minis are at the beginning of the level, and you still can come in below 1K.

Use a less compact encoding scheme and you can bloat that a bit. But in the end it's still a rather small amount of data. In case anyone is interested, here's an example of what such encoding can look like. It's basically an array of numbers that represent the types of blocks with a bit of meta-data to describe where the blocks are positioned on the screen. Total size is 445 bytes. :)

thewiirocks

#11

thewiirocks said:

@noname875 - It's not misspelled. That's how they spell it in British English. Don't be surprised if you see the occasional colour or cheque pop up as well. ;)

KnucklesSonic8

#12

KnucklesSonic8 said:

I called the score early on. I just knew it would get an 8 especially given the replay value on offer here.

Objection

#13

Objection said:

@TwilightV "Need... DSi... must get... sufficient... funds... * fake collapse *"
Wait a minute, he's not really collapsed! Hey everyone, that guy's a phony! A big fat phony! ;)

Marioman64

#17

Marioman64 said:

@BellGoRiing I haven't seen one yet, other than the obvious too-many-objects one. Hmmm... you need at least two mini marios and uh... oh I just remembered the biggest limitation: your imagination _

Odnetnin

#18

Odnetnin said:

I was expecting a 9, if only because Art Style: PICTOBITS and MFC! were bestowed that honor. (I personally consider this the best of the three.)

bboy2970

#19

bboy2970 said:

Wow, an 8.........That's a little surprising. This is by far my favorite DSi game and i would probably rate it a 9 and maybe even consider a 10. Oh well, as long as it's sales don't plummet, i will be happy.

Twilight_Crow

#20

Twilight_Crow said:

Whenever I buy a Dsi, this will be my first DL, I love the DS version so much and this one seems even better, sadly it's gonna take awhile for me to get a Dsi :'(

Cheezy

#21

Cheezy said:

Is this worth it if I have the retail version? I've asked this alot but I'm still not sure...

siavm

#22

siavm said:

This is one of my favorite games of dsiware. I like playing the game, making levels, uploading them, and downloading others. Since I have not played the first two games this game just seems great. A 10/10 for me.

Bahamut_ZERO

#23

Bahamut_ZERO said:

Good to hear its not a simple cash-in.

Well, I guess this narrows down my choices on what to buy with my remaining DSi Points. I never was a giant fan of the original MvsDK game, but if it got a 9, I might have picked it up. BUt I guess it's Mightly Flip Champs for me :D

But then again, I am still waiting for Pop.....

Nintendude92

#24

Nintendude92 said:

Ooh, I'm so glad the included levels are new. This would definitely give it more bang for your buck than the retail in that case. And now that the game's online is a hub and not just friends, I'm sold.

Will purchase.

astarisborn94

#26

astarisborn94 said:

Next DSi card I get is defindently going to this game! Nintendo succeed again! Oh and that score was predictable.

KDR_11k

#27

KDR_11k said:

100 levels sound like there's some meat to the game other than the level editor so I'd be willing to buy it. If it had been just a tutorial and then "go make your own game" I would have ignored it.

ToadFan

#29

ToadFan said:

I am so getting this! I also have Mario and Donkey Kong March of the Minis.

Pegasus

#30

Pegasus said:

@Cheezy: As mentioned in the review it isn't a carbon copy of the previous title. The gameplay changes which have been introduced here make for a somewhat different experience. If you liked the former you should enjoy this as well. Actually, I like this version better than MvDK2.

MAXIMUS

#32

MAXIMUS said:

I must say, not being able to control the minis makes the stages much more challenging than the last one. The level creator is a great inclusion makes the game a steal at $8. Great game.

Stevie

#33

Stevie said:

"a bid of a odd inclusion" ??

Looks like a great game, i always loved Lemmings and wondered why we haven't seen more of these style games over the years.

@No.9 - Proper English, realise :)

motang

#34

motang said:

Just bought this game in the afternoon...and I can't put it down...my god this one addictive game. Love it!

minimario_man

#35

minimario_man said:

nooooooooooooo, I need a dsi nowwwww!
Considering my original ds has pixel cancer (The top screens slightly uncliped from the bottom screen), I need £150......NOOOOOOOWWWW

mjc0961

#37

mjc0961 said:

Oh cool. I had heard that this was a cheap knockoff of the DS version and wasn't worth it. But after reading this, I know where the remaining 800 points Nintendo gave us when we bought our DSi are going. :)

minial100

#38

minial100 said:

"Actually, I like this version better than MvDK2."
So do I, it's harder, which is good rather than speeding throughthe whole game in a day. And yes the level editor is way better than 2. This game deserves a nine.

PressStart

#39

PressStart said:

Another game I'll have to download, when I get more points! I've only ever played the first GBA "Mario vs. Donkey Kong", so this will an entirely new experience for me... The level editor thing sounds awesome!

Gogata

#40

Gogata said:

I got it and I really like the level editor and world wide level share feature. How many worlds are there anyway?

Matrixneo42

#42

Matrixneo42 said:

I bought it because I love Mario vs. Donkey Kong. I also love this one. Even more-so because I can upload and download tracks from anybody.

suburban_sensei

#43

suburban_sensei said:

I was going to buy Mario vs Donkey Kong 2, but maybe ill hold off and just DL this, since some of you said its actually better than MvsDK2.

Deviant_Mugen

#45

Deviant_Mugen said:

I remember playing and enjoying the demo for MvsDK2, but I still haven't been able to purchase it. This game definitely looks like it's great as well...

Bananahh

#46

Bananahh said:

Do you have to have someones friend code to download theire levels? Because i have MvDK2, and i could only download levels from Nintendo, and my friends (which there were none)

aerogirl1003

#48

aerogirl1003 said:

you said it gogata! this game is a lot of fun but 800 points is still a lot so make sure you like games like mario bros. Anywho, this game is really fun but not addicting.

Hokori

#51

Hokori said:

Great game, I need to get every Gold Star
My FC is 1549-2249-5197 if you want to add me

shinesprite

#54

shinesprite said:

I thoroughly enjoyed this game back when it came out (got gold on all stages save a few of the latter bosses)

8.8/10 IMO so I think they should've rounded it up to a 9/10 There's just so much content!

Supremeist

#56

Supremeist said:

Now this one I didn't find very enjoyable. Mario + Donkey Kong - I thought I'd be hooked.

The level editor is pretty cool, and I like how you are able to share it with the world, but there's not much to this game. The actual story gets really boring fast and I can only play about 3-4 levels without getting so bored to death I just shut down the whole console.

If it was 500 points, It'd be a little bit more suitable to pick up, but I am in a kind of regret.

I don't see the whole hype..
Maybe my opinion is almost matched with @xPOTATOx and @rachelthehedgehog

I hope everyone else who picks this game up enjoys it though :]
Not my type.

rachelthehedgehog

#57

rachelthehedgehog said:

@ryanthehedgehog Yes, this game is very boring and I don't see how people are so happy with it. But, I don't like the whole strategy type of game. Maybe it SHOULD be less money, not worth 8 dollars (800 points) at all!

Flowerlark

#59

Flowerlark said:

I've never particularly cared for Mario games (gasp sacrilege, I know) and this game has done nothing to change my opinion. I LOVED DodoGo, and after hearing that this game was similar I thought I'd love this too. But it's dull and limited in comparison. I've only cleared the first 30 levels and I think I'm ready to put it down. It just can't keep my interest.

CosmoXY

#60

CosmoXY said:

Just picked this up for free from Club Nintendo. Very fun, glad I got it!

Blizzaga

#62

Blizzaga said:

This is my first Mario vs Donkey Kong game. I got it from Club Nintendo because it was calling me name. And I answered that call.

This game ROCKS!

Sam_Loser2

#63

Sam_Loser2 said:

I love that there are extra levels via Wi-Fi, but my internet connection refuses to cooperate with my DS (though my 3DS works fine)

Squashie

#64

Squashie said:

I have never actually played a MVDK game, so I decided to pick this one up, as the cheapest option!

I absolutely love it and I will certainly be ordering Mini-Land Mayhem!

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