Review: Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move for Nintendo 3DS
Some of Nintendo’s critics have openly stated that the company should produce iPhone games– some even saying they should do that exclusively, but that poppycock is another matter entirely. Suffice to say, if Nintendo did get into the business of producing games for Apple’s App Store, Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move would be a perfect fit.
Do note that I do not say this in any sort of derogatory fashion; I’ve played and reviewed more than my fair share of these mobile games, and while some are indeed rather poor, others are actually quite good. That said, this entry in the surprisingly long-lived Mario vs. Donkey Kong series– minus the “vs.”– feels quite reminiscent of something I’d expect to be reviewing for one of the sites I linked above.
On the other hand, with rumors of Nintendo seeking to bring iOS games to Wii U, perhaps the notion shouldn’t be so surprising.
With the success of the Super Mini Mario World Theme Park in Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem!, the Mario Toy Company has elected to host an annual Mini Toy Carnival. There, Donkey Kong and Pauline run a game arcade. Unlike the Lemmings-esque gameplay of previous Mario vs. Donkey Kong titles, this one plays a bit more like the classic game Pipe Mania. Or, at least part of it does– more on that in a moment.
The basic concept is that you have a Mini Mario (or Mini Peach, or numerous others you can unlock) appear from a pipe at the start of a level. New pieces appear in a stack on the side in an almost Tetris-like fashion, and you must select the one you need to build the track as the Mini moves along it, ideally towards the goal star.
As the game goes on, things become a little more complicated, as you’ll need to destroy parts of the track you’ve laid to place a new one as the Minis double back, or throw pieces you don’t need into a sort of trash compactor to produce an all-purpose piece to help you.
Spikes, pits, and other obstacles line the way, and you’ll want to collect the three “M” medallions along the way for a perfect score– one touch which makes this feel rather iPhone-y. You’ll also have to deal with a time limit, as too many pieces backing up can cause an overflow, while taking too long to set one in place could lead to your Mini’s demise. Unfortunately, you’re at the mercy of the draw, and if the right piece doesn’t come up, then it’s back to square one.
There are three different worlds, each with different variations on these rules (such as Puzzle Palace’s more measured pace of giving you a limited number of tiles, or Many Mini Mayhem’s swapping of tiles already placed in the field) over the course of their 60 levels, followed by a fourth, final world with three stages. And while the puzzles start rather small, those last three are pretty massive!
If those 183 levels weren’t enough, the game also features a custom level editor which allows players to create their own puzzles, then share them online. Those looking for a new challenge can see what the newest puzzles are, or sort them by those with the highest ranks, adding their own rating as well. The downside is that you’re relegated to only creating stages in the core style of “Mario’s Main Event,” with the random tiles ruling the day.
Beyond that main style of gameplay, Minis on the Move features four other mini-games to enjoy. Three of these are slingshot-based, requiring you to fire Mini Marios to hit targets, reel in Fly Guys, or launch them into giant cubes comprised of smaller cubes to break them away into nothing. The fourth is more varied, placing a Mini Mario on an elevating platform. Your job is to turn the crank on the touch screen to raise and lower the platform so the Mini Mario can collect coins. All the while, you’ll also have to dodge the barrage of Bullet Bills blazing through the sky.
Overall, Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move is a simple game, but a good one. It has its ups and downs, with a big one being the price. Pipe Mania has been around for nearly 25 years, and there are no doubt numerous derivative versions out there for less (on iPhone, Android, and other platforms), and you have to ask yourself what you’re paying for.
There is a considerable amount of content here, with the four mini-games and 183 levels of the main game, which has a few unique variations on the common gameplay. Add to that the ability to download the best new levels from your peers free of charge, and the value proposition grows. Beyond that, the game does have the classic Nintendo charm with its music, backdrops, and characters. Plus, it’s in 3D, if that is something which would sway your purchasing decision.
If all of that sounds good to you, then you shouldn’t be disappointed here.
Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move was released for the Nintendo 3DS on May 9th, 2013 at a price of $9.99 in the Nintendo 3DS eShop. A review copy was provided by Nintendo of Canada.