Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-land Mayhem

Mario vs. Donkey Kong Mini-Land Mayhem is not a new franchise but it’s the first one that has come to South Africa. Mini-land Mayhem is the fourth in the series and I’m sure it will not be the last.

Mario and Pauline are celebrating the grand opening of Mario’s new outdoor theme park, Mini-Land. It a wonderful day, and the first one hundred customers will receive a new mini Pauline toy. Donkey Kong again arrives too late and does not get a toy; this gets him angry and, as we know, Donkey always gets what he wants. So Donkey Kong takes off with the real Pauline instead. Mario then gets his Mini Mechanical Marios and jumps on the Super Mini Mario Express train to catch up with Donkey Kong and to try and save Pauline.

The game is a combination of Lemmings and TIM, branded with Mario. The Lemmings part comes in because the Mini Marios will just walk off the edge of a cliff and not think to stop before the razor sharp cutters below.

They also make a cute noise and shake their heads just like a Lemming does when entering the door. The TIM (The Incredible Machine) part comes with the construction that is needed in the stage to solve the puzzle, i.e. get the Mini Marios into the door.

There are eight stages with a Final Battle, Special Levels and Expert Levels. The levels have each their own set of puzzles with a key puzzle at the end. In each stage or puzzle players need to move blocks, change the direction of trams, build railing and even turn enemies into blocks to get all the Minis into the door. To make things a little more challenging there is a time limit and after the first Mini is in the door a counter starts before the door is closed permanently and any other Minis are left out. If this happens the level is failed and players will need to start again.

In the key stage before the Donkey Kong Boss Battle only one Mini has a key and he needs to get in the door first. The stages become increasingly more difficult as the game goes on. There is a card in each level to collect and collecting all the coins and cards in the level under a certain time will get the player a cup. Collect the cards to spell out MINIMARIO and the mini game is unlocked in each stage. The coins are just for points but the cups are to unlock the Special and Expert stages in the end levels.

Previously the puzzle solving was put on hold for the boss battles and players would control a different Mini Mario Mortar to project the Minis at Donkey Kong and get him down or hurt him to get Pauline away and safe.

In Mini-Land Mayhem the puzzles don’t stop and they are incorporated into a live solving puzzle. Players need to get the Minis walking to the four different locations to blow up bombs or pull levers before Donkey Kong breaks all the Minis with the barrels and junk that is thrown down.

If eight stages of ten puzzles each and two extra hard stages are not enough, players will be pleased to note that the game is not finish after that. I’m not even talking about the stage creator and sharing these with other players as an extra challenge. I’m talking about the Plus Mode. The real challenge in plus mode comes with Mini Mushroom Men added with the Mario Minis. The order in which the Marios and Mushrooms need to go into the door is specific and the most basic of puzzles become very difficult. Only when these extra eight stages and the final boss battle is done can players truly claim that they have finished the game.

The puzzles are not that long and very satisfying to complete. I have returned again and again to this game for more tries at the Expert and Special stages and it has truly given me hours of joy.

At A Glance:

More of the same as the previous Mario vs. Donkey Kongs, with better tools and other ways to use the Mini Mechanical Marios.

Developer: NST

Publisher: Nintendo

Distributor: Core Group

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