Mario & Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move Review

After years of disagreements, Donkey Kong, Mario and his one time squeeze, Pauline, have gone into business together and are running a mini arcade inside the Mario Toy Company’s Mini Toy Carnival! Roll up, roll up for a selection of games made to test your noggin and your reflexes.

This game’s main event is…well, Mario’s Main Event. A wind-up Mini (you start with only Mini Marios, but others are selectable later on) drops from a pipe, and you must guide him to the exit of each level. To do this, you must use different tiles to create a path to the exit. However, these tiles are given to you randomly from a pile on the right-hand side of the 3DS’s touchscreen. You can allow the pipe to drop five tiles onto your stack, but any more than that and it’s Game Over. If you fail to drag a suitable tile to allow your Mini Toy to continue their march, after a few seconds they will fall off, and it’s Game Over. You also have a timer, and once that runs out, then it’s…Well, you can guess.

If that wasn’t enough to keep you occupied, to fully complete a level you need to collect three M coins, by placing a path through them for the Mini to collect. Some are located on the ground level and are easy to pick up, while others are suspending in mid air. To collect these, you must use tiles to create a circle, putting your Mini in a loop that will raise the platform, allowing you to collect the coin as well as giving you precious time bonuses. As you proceed through the game there are other little tricks that you’ll be told about that add further strategic elements.

So, although we’re dealing with the fate of just one Mini, you’ll feel like you have a lot of plates that need spinning. The game starts off at a good pace with plenty of tutorials, but eventually Mario’s Main Event really starts to ramp up the difficulty, adding plenty of new things to worry about. As the tiles you get are random, you’ll really need to think quickly about what to do next, which can cause some frustration. Thankfully, the levels are short enough and fun enough to make you want to try again and again until you nail each one.

Other modes are also unlocked as you finish enough puzzles. Puzzle Palace works much like Mario’s Main Event, only this time you are given a set of predetermined tiles and must use those to get your toy to the end. Many Mini Mayhem is exactly how it sounds: instead of only one Mini to get home, you’ll have several, which can be quite the handful. Finally, if all of that’s too easy for you, Giant Jungle features three huge boards for you to guide a Mini around, plus 10 stars to collect in each one.

These four modes make for a combined total of over 180 puzzling levels to tackle, so there’s a lot of bang for your buck here. But that’s not all the game offers, as a couple of small mini-games are also added that involve catapulting Minis at various targets. One game sees you firing at Shy Guys, another will see you trying to break blocks. A nice addition, although there is little reason to play these distractions more than once (unless you’re into beating your own high scores).

But that’s not even everything. Sure, the amount of levels in this game hit triple digits, but you can add to that number by making your own levels to share online, or by downloading those made by other people. For as long as this game holds your interest, there is plenty of fun to be had.

It really is the kind of game that portable systems are made for, with a simplistic concept that is built upon with the addition of new tiles, power-ups and techniques. While levels get devilishly tricky, you’ll always be tempted back to try again.

Minis on the Move’s visuals are easily ignored, as you’ll spend pretty much all of your time looking at the 3DS’ lower screen to place your tiles. While the top 3D display shows a more graphical representation of your rescue efforts, it’s largely unnecessary. Likewise with the typical Mario-styled sound effects and music tracks. Fast, frantic puzzling is what this game is all about, and the minimal approach to audio and visuals is more than welcome.

VERDICT: Minis on the Move is a great puzzle game. Reminiscent of Lemmings or Krusty’s Fun House, this is one of the more manic and heart-pumping puzzlers out there, and one of the most enjoyable games available on the Nintendo 3DS eShop.

8

VERY GOOD. An 8/10 is only awarded to a game we consider truly worthy of your hard-earned cash. This game is only held back by a smattering of minor or middling issues and comes highly recommended.

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