At this point Mario has been just about everything, from a golfer to a boxing referee. This time he’s a wind-up toy, joined by Donkey Kong and others in a puzzle game that requires a quick mind and equally quick stylus. With several different modes and styles of play, Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move makes for a great experience, and one that I had a hard time putting down.
In Minis on the Move, my goal was to navigate the mini from the beginning to the end of a level by filling in gaps in the path with tiles. Players can collect up to three coins along the way, and the level score is based on completion time and the number of coins collected. Based on the game type, there may be additional factors. Regardless, the player has a limited amount of time to get the mini started on their path, so quick thinking is key.
In Mario’s Main Event, tiles fall into a pipe on the right side of the screen. As mini Mario makes his way along the path to the goal on the upper screen, players must place the tiles on the lower screen using the stylus. The game ends if Mario runs into an obstacle or falls off the path, either because he hits an empty space or falls off the edge of the level. Tiles must be placed quickly, because the pipe can only hold five at a time; any more than that will cause it to rupture, ending the game.
Many Mini Mayhem is similar, only the pipe is gone and there is more than one mini on the course. In this mode, the path must be completed by rotating certain blocks to change the direction of the path, re-arranging the existing blocks to create new paths, or in some cases both. The game ends if either mini fails to reach the goal, but there is a bonus awarded if they finish consecutively.
Puzzle Palace takes things a little bit slower, presenting all of the pieces available at the beginning, and challenging the player to arrange them in the best way to direct mini Peach to the goal. Giant Jungle is basically Mario’s Main event on a much larger scale, challenging players to navigate mini DK through a much larger course, collecting clocks along the way to earn more time.
The challenge is always to create a path for the character to move along, with each mode presenting it in a different way. Speed is important, because once the mini gets started, they move at a standard pace, so getting the right tiles in front of them quickly is a necessity. Minis will flash and teeter on the edge for a few seconds before going over, which is a nice way to alert the player to impending disaster. As the game progresses, courses get longer and more treacherous and the game provides additional tile types and ways to earn extra time.
Minis on the Move has plenty of content in the main game modes, providing over 150 levels. It also sports four different mini games, most focused on using a slingshot on the lower screen to fire Mario (or in one case a grappling hook) onto the upper screen. They’re somewhat limited, but a fun diversion, and a nice addition to the game.
As if there weren’t enough content already, the game has a fully featured level creator, allowing players to create up to 100 levels of their own to play or share with others. The control present is impressive, as players can control the size and layout of each level, and even the type of tiles and the frequency they appear. Available levels can be browsed randomly, by friends or simply the top rated for the week.
The game looks nice, although to be fair, I spent a great deal more time watching the touch screen than the upper one. As with all Nintendo titles though, the 3D is well done even if it has minimal impact on the experience. The minis are cute, as are the sounds they make as they follow the path or even fall to their doom. Using the stylus to place pieces was fast and accurate, and the control was good throughout.
Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move is a fun, frantic puzzle game that I really enjoyed. While the speed required for play might turn off those looking for a slower, more deliberate puzzle game (like Professor Layton), those with a quick mind and stylus to match will have a lot of fun here. Between the four main game modes and four mini games, plus unlimited additional levels via the level editor, this one is a great bargain for the price.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.