Mario vs. Donkey Kong
Mario vs. Donkey Kong is a game for the Game Boy Advance. It brings back Mario and Donkey Kong's rivalry from the Mario series' first game, Donkey Kong. The game is more or less a spiritual successor to Donkey Kong '94, as it features the return of many elements from the original Donkey Kong game, such as the construction site setting, Mario's being vulnerable from heights, and using the hammer, and borrows elements from Super Mario Bros. 2, especially with picking up enemies and items. Despite bringing elements from previous platformers, Mario vs. Donkey Kong is more of a puzzle platformer; Mario must find the best route to complete the level by hitting switches and interacting with other objects, often in a specific order. This game spawned multiple sequels and became its own series; this is the only game in the series, however, to feature Mario himself as a playable character since the later games have the player control Mini-Marios. Mario vs. Donkey Kong was re-released as a free downloadable title for the 3DS on December 16, 2011. However, it was only available to people who purchased a 3DS prior to the August 12, 2011 price drop, meaning they had to be a part of the Nintendo 3DS Ambassador Program. Mario vs. Donkey Kong was re-released again on the Wii U's Virtual Console in Japan on July 23, 2014, in Europe on September 17, 2015, and in Australia on September 18, 2015.
Mario has become so famous and popular in the Mushroom Kingdom that he has decided to establish the Mario Toy Company, which has developed a new toy called the Mini-Mario. As Donkey Kong surfs through the channels of his television set, he sees a commercial for the Mini-Marios. Donkey Kong instantly adores the toys and heads to the Toy Store, but finds that they are sold out. Donkey Kong turns around and sees the Mario Toy Company, deciding to loot the store. The store is managed by Toads, but they do nothing to stop Donkey Kong from stealing the toys. Mario then notices Donkey Kong and starts chasing him.
After Mario chases Donkey Kong for a while, he eventually checks his bag, only to see all the Mini-Marios he stole have dropped, with Mario, the toys, and the three Toad employees laughing at him. Enraged, he grabs the three Toads, climbs the building, and Mario rescues the three Toads while fighting Donkey Kong. Upon his defeat, he falls off onto a truck full of Mini-Marios and steals thirty-six more, now with keys attached. Mario gives chase once again, until a similar cutscene occurs in which he checks the bag again. Only Mario laughs until six Mini-Marios come out. Donkey Kong then grabs the Minis with a giant robot, to which Mario promptly frees while fighting Donkey Kong, eventually wrecking the machine and electrocuting Donkey Kong in the process. After that, Mario is about to scold Donkey Kong for what he did, but finds that Donkey Kong is crying in pity and shame. Mario cheers him up by giving him a free Mini-Mario. Donkey Kong gets what he has wanted all along while Mario and the remaining Mini-Marios celebrate.
Each of the games six worlds is divided into eight levels. For the first six levels within each world, Mario must find a key and open up a door to the second half of the level, which is a checkpoint. There, Mario will find the toy that Donkey Kong dropped. If Mario is defeated in the second half of the level, his points reset to zero. At the beginning of each level, there is short sequence showing what Mario needs to do or what he may face before playing the level. This short sequence also explains what moves Mario needs to use to complete the level, showing some button combinations.
Unlike other Mario games, when Mario takes a hit, he loses a life. He can also lose a life from getting squished and falling on from a great height and landing on his head. If the fall is not big enough, Mario may get stunned on his back instead. There is also a time limit, which is similar to the traditional Super Mario Bros. games; if the time limit is low, an alarm plays and Mario panics. If the time limit runs out, Mario loses a life. Also unlike other Mario games, however, Mario has more moves he can use, such as jump, handstand, and and even higher jump. To defeat enemies, Mario must pick up objects and throw them at enemies, reminiscent of Super Mario Bros. 2. Throughout the level, there are some collectibles Mario can collect. Three are pivotal in earning a high score, which are different colored presents. Earning a high enough score, beating the default socre, earns a star for that level. The stars later are used to unlock Expert levels.
Once Mario completes a level and collects enough presents, he can play a short minigame to earn extra lives. One present may have a 1-up, one may have a 3-up or 5-up, and one present may have nothing; this is shown at the beginning of the minigame. One minigame is stopping a scrolling arrow on top of the desired present while the other has Mario swapping presents so Donkey Kong's fist squashes an undesired present.
The seventh level in each world is a Mini-Mario level. Mario leads the six Mini-Mario toys he collected back to their toy chest; however, he must make sure they avoid obstacles along the way. This leads into a battle with Donkey Kong, with each Mini-Mario saved becoming a "hit point". For example, if Mario saves all six of the Mini-Mario toys, he'll be able to be hit six times by Donkey Kong before losing a life. If the player fails to defeat Donkey Kong and chooses to replay the fight without doing the Mini-Mario level, Mario will start the fight with four hit points.
After Mario has beaten the six worlds and defeated Donkey Kong, six "Plus" Worlds are unlocked, numbered 1+, 2+, and so on. There are seven stages in each Plus Worlds, and there are no Mini-Mario levels. Mario must get to a Mini-Mario holding a key and lead it to the exit doorway. There is only one part per level in the Plus Worlds, and they are designed to be more difficult than the main worlds. There are still Donkey Kong boss levels in the Plus Worlds.
After beating all of the Plus Worlds, Mario fights Donkey Kong for the final time. If the player found all of the remaining presents in replay mode, the "Expert" levels will unlock; instead of completing them one at a time, the player must beat the game's default high scores (from the "Main" and "Plus" levels) to progressively unlock the levels.
Items and features
The game was initially planned as Donkey Kong Plus, an updated version of the Game Boy Donkey Kong game. The only known difference between the original and Plus, aside from the graphics, was the addition of a level designer to be used through the Nintendo GameCube for players to create their own levels with. However, the game vanished the following year, and was replaced by Mario vs. Donkey Kong, with the level editor gone and the graphics replaced with pre-rendered graphics. However, the game's sequel, Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis had this feature and took advantage of Wi-Fi Connection.
Mario vs. Donkey Kong is one of the few Mario games to be developed by an American team, Nintendo Software Technology Corporation (NST). In NST's team, Shigeki Yamashiro is the producer while Yukimi Shimura is the director. Wing S. Cho designed the game and Yoonjoon Lee is the engineering director.
Mario vs. Donkey Kong is generally well-received by critics, aggregating an average of 81/100 on Metacritic and 79.07% on GameRankings. Craig Harris of IGN gave the game an 8.5/10, "Great".. Harris praised the game for having "faithfully retained the Donkey Kong arcade game's look and feel". His reaction is mild about the Donkey Kong boss levels, calling them "the ones with the least amount of creativity". He criticized the presentation, calling the sprites "awkward but admittedly well-animated 3D rendered" while the voice-overs from Mario and Donkey Kong are unnecessary, although not distracting. Despite these, he praises the game's faithfulness of the Gameboy Advance Donkey Kong games, with its fantastic level design and lasting appeal.
Marcel van Duyn of Nintendolife has echoed some of IGN's statements, deeming the game to be "a worthy successor", giving the game an 8/10. As in the IGN review, Duyn criticized the game's pre-rendered sprites, saying that it "although it actually looks pretty good, it's a bit strange to see this style in a Nintendo title again after all this time." Duyn is disappointed that "the series has only had Lemmings-esque instalments since", believing "the original formula is perfectly worthy of another day in the limelight."
In a more critical review, Stephen Carvell of VideoGamer praises the game's visuals, but criticizes the game's level design, calling the reliance on the color-coded switches "tedious" and the later levels for using the same puzzles. He also criticized the Mini Mario levels for having "appalling level design that smacks of a lack of ideas." He gave the game a 6/10.
Boxart and logo
In Spooky House on the 3rd level, in the next room, Mario should go near the far right spring. Then, he should press the red button to have the Polterguy transform into a block, once the Polterguy is almost by the right side wall. If Mario jumps on the spring between the block and the wall, Mario may go off stage and lose a life. The music then stops and the game freezes, but the enemies are still moving.
References to other games