Getting Wound Up –
Initially released back in the summer of 2009 on DSiWare, Nintendo is currently offering Mario vs Donkey Kong: Minis March Again! as part of their September 2013 Club Nintendo program. What is normally an $8 downloadable title tastes even sweeter when it is free.
Similar to the original GBA title and its DS brethren, Minis March Again! has players using the touchscreen to guide Mario wind-up toys from Point A to Point B while avoid hazards along the way. The player is basically in control of pink blocks which are used to guide these mini Marios; touching blocks removes them from the playing field and tapping empty grid squares makes them appear. Unlike the original Gameboy’s Donkey Kong ’94, this downloadable DSiWare game is much more puzzle based than action oriented.
With dozens of levels to progressively play through, Minis March Again! has an impressive roster of content. With the opening stages acting as a tutorial, the difficulty ramps up over time without ever being overly and unnecessarily difficult. Each stage requires perfection if gold stars want to be earned and could require some trial and error. Spread throughout each stage are optional items to collect like coins that increase the final score or 1-ups. However, 1-ups are pretty pointless as dying just makes the player start over, the same end result if all lives are lost; there is no point in collecting these optional items but give perfectionists something else to strive for. The challenge comes into play due to the restrictions of the exit door. Each mini Mario needs to enter the exit door within seconds of each other putting an extra bullet point on the overall challenge. Also, if just one mini Mario bites the dust, the player will need to restart from the beginning; it can be frustrating but also teaches the player what not to do in a short amount of time. Each set of stages are also capped off with a boss battle against DK and has the player shooting Marios from the bottom screen to the top screen. These boss fights are always fun and refreshing. It is also worth pointing out that each level only takes a short amount of time to complete, usually around one time, keeping portability always at the forefront.
Outside of non-animated cutscenes, Minis March Again! looks and feels just like the full version title on DS. The 2D sprites are very colorful and charming and even the music supports classic Mario themes and voices that any fan will instantly recognize. Even though this is a downloadable game, Nintendo has not cut any corners on the overall presentation. In fact, the Mario and Donkey Kong sprites are so well done I would love to see them featured in a full blown Mario 2D platformer.
After the dozens of stages are completed, users can then try their hand at creating their own puzzle designs in the construction zone. Here, players have access to over a hundred save slots and a wealth of tools to design customized stages. Stages can also be traded with friends via WiFi and additional maps can be downloaded. The game encourages players to reach for high scores during the main campaign to unlock additional content in the construction zone. This semi-sequel downloadable title is fun enough by itself but offering additional content for performing well always makes that dangling carrot seem that much more enticing. This game was designed from the ground up for players to play around with their own designs and share them with the rest of the world.
Even if you don’t have enough Club Nintendo coins to download Minis March Again! for free, players should consider purchasing this $8 game through the 3DS eShop. The adorable visuals blend well with the creative stage design and puzzle based gameplay. It is a different type of puzzle game that makes solid use of the touch screen stylus controls. Who knew wind-up toys could be so entertaining?
Better Than: Mario Pinball Land (GBA)
Also Try: collecting your own Mario action figures
Wait For It: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com