Mario and Donkey Kong have starred in quite a few memorable video games that often pit the two iconic characters against each other. Aside from the arcade original, nowhere is this more evident than in the Mario vs. Donkey Kong series, which tasks players with manipulating adorable Mario Minis through numerous puzzles to thwart the gorilla's schemes. Apparently, the icons squashed their beef in Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move, hence the use of "and" instead of "vs." in its title. The lack of a rivalry notwithstanding, this eShop only 3DS game includes just enough to make it a winner.
Although you'll play four unique game types consisting of more than 180 stages, they follow the same basic concept of ferrying Minis from point A to point B by laying directional tiles, with the goal of creating the most efficient path while at the same time collecting M-tokens along the way. To make things especially challenging, Nintendo only allows you to have a certain number of tiles contained within the green pipe on the right side of the screen, and filling it beyond capacity is one of the easiest ways to lose, the other involving a path gone awry, with the Minis plummeting off the board or walking into spikes.
The first mode, Mario's Main Event, is easy enough to figure out, and serves as the game's overall tutorial to teach players the basics. Over time, you'll even get to destroy previously placed tiles with bombs, or trap the Minis within a loop while you plot the next move.
Things get crazier in later modes. Puzzle Palace only supplies a set number of tiles, while Many Mini Mayhem ups the proverbial ante with additional Minis and the option to slide tiles that have already been placed; hectic, for sure. The final mode, Giant Jungle, only contains three stages, but this isn't for lack of imagination on the developers' part. You'll struggle for hours, days and perhaps weeks trying to figure those out, since the levels are significantly larger and require intense micromanagement.
This is essentially the meat of the game, and what's here more than justifies the price. Thankfully, Nintendo added even more in the form of the aforementioned mini games. Admittedly, they serve as mere distractions, but we had fun firing projectiles via slingshot, snatching characters from the air and blowing up cubes in our personal favorite, Cube Crash.
Finally, you're free to design custom puzzles that follow the Mario's Main Event template, then upload these creations to share with the world and vice versa. Unfortunately, we didn't have a huge number to choose from, since the game debuts May 9, but we feel the Nintendo community will respond accordingly.
Taken for what it is, Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move is a cool title containing bite-sized content with portable gamers in mind. That said, we doubt you'll find much to dislike.
Review code provided by Nintendo.
What's Hot:Four tricky modes built around one central concept, frantic puzzle mayhem, mini games, level editor with online capabilities.
What's Not:Mini games probably won't hold your interest long.