Mario vs. Donkey Kong Review

Mario vs Donkey Kong is a remake of a Game Boy Advance game that was released all the way back in 2004. 20 years later, Nintendo decided to give it the remake treatment for the Switch. The main difference is that the remake is now fully 3D with fully animated cutscenes. Along with some new worlds, they also added a co-op mode, with the second player being Toad to help retrieve the toys.

I do feel like the “story” of the game hits a bit better in the current period as Donkey Kong sees an advert for mini Mario clockwork toys, rushes out to buy some to only find them all sold out. He then decides to break into the factory and steal them. This does almost feel like a bit of meta commentary where people would do the same or something similar in the current state of the world, some serious levels of FOMO.

There are several parts in a level that needs to be completed by collecting the mini Mario clockwork toy. The first part is collecting a key that allows you to progress and the second part has you collecting the toy to complete the level. Once all the toys are collected in all the levels for a world, you then need to navigate all of the clockwork Mario’s into a toy box. Each one returned gives you a life in the boss fight needed to complete the world and move on to the next.

Each world has its own little gimmick that is incorporated into the levels such as conveyor belts for the toy factory and ropes to swing from in the jungle world. While each level is unique, the basic concept stays the same with red, blue and yellow switches needing to be used to traverse the level. The switches control various objects in the level such as floors or obstacles. You need to figure out the best way to use them to get to the all the collectable presents and eventually to progress.

The game is broken down into 2 very different modes to play in: Casual and Classic mode. You can change game modes on the fly before the level select or while playing so if you get stuck on one level, you can quickly swap to casual mode and vice versa. The major difference between the two is that Classic has a timer for the various levels. You get a set amount of time at the start and after each level progression, it gets topped up until all the levels are complete and you can move onto the next stage. Or time runs out and you have to try again. Dying forces you to restart the level from the beginning; as well as losing a life. This forces a player to be cautious in their actions but cannot dawdle when doing things if they do not wish to waste time.

Besides removing the timer, causal mode also adds in checkpoints throughout stages that allow you to safely restart a part of a level if you happened to die, you just magically float to it in a giant bubble, allowing you to repeat the section a total of five times or until you can get it right. This does make the game and puzzles significantly easier. In Casual Style Mode, you can take your time, experiment, and enjoy the puzzles without feeling rushed. While not a huge fan of puzzle games, they did manage to hook me with the various items you can collect in the level. I found myself playing a level multiple times to get everything before moving on to the next, only to repeat the actions until I had all the stars for the stages in a world. The game is clearly aimed at hardcore fans of either Mario or Donkey Kong, as well as being mainly for kids, it does have its charm. The game can become a bit of a chore playing multiple levels in one go but I found that breaking it down into smaller sessions did alleviate some of it, making it easier to progress.

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  • Relaxing gameplay in casual


  • Only for hardcore Mario or DK fans