Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars
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Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars is an action puzzle game for the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS. It is the sixth Mario vs. Donkey Kong game overall and the first game in the series to be released on a home console. The game shares many elements with most of the series, where the principal goal is to navigate a number of Minis to their exits, and also allows players to build their own levels in a mode called the Workshop. Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars debuts new features such as sharing custom stages through Miiverse. Parts and new Minis for custom levels can be unlocked in the Workshop Store after purchasing them with stars, which can also be given to other players as a "tip" for their shared stages. The game is digital-only except in Japan. Game cases with download codes are sold in Europe. The Wii U version requires 0.93 GB of memory to be installed, and the Nintendo 3DS version requires 3200 blocks.
The game supports a form of cross-platform play, where if one version of the game is bought on the Nintendo eShop, the buyer receives a free download code of the other version. Levels are able to be shared between the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U versions of the game.
As in previous Mario vs. Donkey Kong games, Pauline is once again the victim of Donkey Kong's kidnapping antics at the start of the game, although this time, no motivation is given. Mario quickly gives chase with his Mini Mario toys in hopes of rescuing Pauline from Donkey Kong.
After traversing six puzzle-filled worlds, while freeing cursed Mini Mario toys along the way, Mario catches up to Donkey Kong and Pauline in a darkened room. The lights are switched on quickly, revealing Pauline, Donkey Kong, and two Toads standing in front of a "SURPRISE!" banner.
The ruse revealed, Mario can then continue through more worlds and bonus levels knowing Pauline is safe.
As in the game's predecessors, the main goal of every stage is to simply lead all Mini toys to the end of the level, which is done by manipulating certain parts of the environment. Using the stylus, players are able to drag objects such as red girders, springs, conveyor belts, pipes, and lifts to guide the characters. Notably, the gameplay of this title is largely simplified in comparison to the predecessors, barring elements such as boss battles and the ability to change direction of the Minis.
The most common level type in the game is the Single-Door level, in which a lone door represents the objective. In order to clear a course, each Mini must be brought at the exit door, immediately followed by another. The first Mini toy to reach the exit commences a short timer which shuts the door after a few moments, locking away any other Mini toy if they do not reach the door in time and resulting in a Game Over. Multi-Door levels, a feature introduced in Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem!, are also found in Tipping Stars, where different Minis have to be rescued from Capsules and led through separate doors, each assigned to one of the Minis. In Multi-Door levels, there is no time limit between entering different doors.
Each world contains eight levels and follows a specific formula:
A level must be finished within its time limit, always set to 300 seconds. Otherwise, the result will be a Game Over. Other causes of a Game Over include falling on spikes, falling from a height of ten blocks or more, failing to enter the goal door before it closes, and coming into contact with an enemy such as a Shy Guy or a Pokey. The only possibility to combat these enemies is by using Hammers, which are acquired for a short time and function similarly to the hammer from the Donkey Kong arcade game.
The game presents a scoring system, which factors the following:
Three high scores are established for each level and are linked to a bronze, silver, and gold trophy, in order from lowest to highest. Acquiring one trophy rewards the player with one star; in this respect, achieving the gold trophy in a level signifies a three star rating for that level. Stars form a collectable entity, and a total of 267 stars can be earned in the main game.
Workshop and online features
The Workshop mode allows players to build custom levels. They can either start building from scratch, or edit one of the three built-in templates. A total of 50 custom levels can be stored, but only up to 20 could be shared online. Levels can be transferred between both the Nintendo 3DS and the Wii U versions of the game. The Workshop Store is a section in the Workshop where collected/received stars can be used to purchase objects and other elements that can be used to customize the look of user-generated levels.
A help menu is available where players can learn about earning tips from other players, limits of the resource items, play-testing and themes for their custom levels.
The game presented online functions, which were paired with Miiverse. However, as of November 7, 2017, when the service was shut down, they are no longer accessible. Before the discontinuation, levels could be shared trough the Community option. Players could share, play, and 'Yeah' levels. Stars earned in the main game or by playing user-created levels could be tipped to level creators, which unlocked Miiverse stamps. Nintendo themselves had uploaded levels in the past, a list of which can be seen here.
Lastly, in both the Workshop mode and the Community mode, players can click their Mii icon to access their user profile, which displays some information linked to Miiverse: the number of 'Yeah's received on their levels, comments posted, and stars tipped to other players, as well as the number of shared levels. Likewise, the SpotPass funcionality can be adjusted there.
The cast is primarily composed of the Mini toys, which are the focus of the Mario vs. Donkey Kong series. Despite the fact that Mario and Donkey Kong are titular characters, they only fulfill minor roles. Pauline and a few Toads also make appearances in the game's cutscenes.
The protagonists do not feature distinctions in behavior. They all simply walk from side to side, interacting with the environment at times. The only Mini that does, however, differentiate from the others is the Cursed Mini Mario, which is a possessed Mini Mario that smashes any other Mini on contact. It can be turned back into a normal Mini Mario if hit with Hammers or if slope slid onto it.
Each of the eight main worlds of the game (six standard, two extra) introduces a new mechanic, and is divided into eight levels; the last one in each world is always centered around a Cursed Mini Mario. Levels in the main game are unlocked in a classic manner, i.e. by completing any level that preceded them.
Apart from the main game, there are 24 additional levels to unlock in a separate, Bonus feature. The player unlocks a bonus level for every 4 gold trophies obtained in the main game, except for Level B-21 onward, when levels are unlocked for each gold trophy earned. In order to unlock all Bonus levels, the player has to acquire a total of 87 gold trophies. Compared to levels from the main game, Bonus levels are to be noted for using previous gameplay mechanics in challenging ways, resulting in increased difficulty.
The four unlockable backgrounds in the Workshop—Winding Ravine, Swirling Courtyard, Clattering Cabin and Shimmering Gold Palace—do not have their own worlds, but are used to theme some of the Bonus levels. Each world including the afore-mentioned backgrounds is the setting of at least two Bonus levels. In the Workshop, there is an additional Editor Land theme, although none of the pre-built levels feature it.
There are slight layout differences between levels in the Nintendo 3DS version and levels in the Wii U version, meaning that a puzzle might require a different solution depending on the version it appears in.
The game's numerous objects can be split into three categories: collectibles, objects that can be obtained only by a Mini toy; resource items, which can be stockpiled and moved or dragged on the screen using the console's stylus; and fixed objects, which cannot usually be modified but can be manipulated to help the Minis advance through a stage.
Enemies and obstacles
Enemies in the game can be divided into two categories, based on how they affect the player. Kong-based toys are rather large and indestructible but do not cause damage, and in many situations their capacities appear helpful; however, they can also often impede the player, in which case Hammers are available to stun them temporarily. On the other hand, there are harmful enemies that take miscellaneous forms, and only serve as obstacles that can usually be destroyed with Hammers or other means of attack.
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