Though they’ve been locked and loaded on my Nintendo 3DS for almost two years now, I’ve still not gotten around to playing all the 10 free GBA Ambassador games awarded to us early supporters of the system. For the record, I did beat both Metroid Fusion and Yoshi’s Island. I tried my luck with Kirby and The Amazing Mirror and Wario Land 4, both of which did not hold me for very long due to their lack of direction and unfair difficulty and horrible map designs. And I remember playing Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones for like five minutes before putting it aside, but that was long before I got to experience Fire Emblem: Awakening, and I definitely plan to start FE: TSS up again now that I (kind of) get what that franchise is all about. So that just leaves us with the following pretty much untouched titles:
- F-Zero: Maximum Velocity
- The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
- Mario Kart: Super Circuit
- Mario vs Donkey Kong
- WarioWare Inc: Mega Microgame$
We can discount the F-Zero and Mario Kart titles as something to “play” as all those games really ask of you is to run a track for a few minutes and try to place higher than fourth, which is fine and good for a bathroom break, but nothing you have to actually sink your teeth into and really dig deep to understand the lore and plot. I know next to nothing about the WarioWare game, and I’ve heard many a praises about The Minish Cap, but I need to be in a Zelda mood for a Zelda game, and I’m just not there yet. No idea when I’ll be either. All of this lengthy intro setup is to basically say this: I played Mario VS. Donkey Kong yesterday.
It’s surprisingly good, and a bit weird. Evidently, there are a bunch of MiniMario toys, and banana-crazy Donkey Kong falls in love with the idea of collecting them all after seeing a commercial for ’em. Unfortunately, the local toy store is all sold out. Now, here is where I am confused. The game part has you playing as Mario, trying to collect various MiniMarios and then battling Donkey Kong as the boss of each thematic world. Does this mean that you are trying to save these MiniMarios from getting into DK’s paws? Or are these somehow already in DK’s possession and you are trying to steal them back? Not sure. Either way, you do this by…solving platforming-based puzzles, and I’ve completed the first two worlds so far, with the puzzles ramping up with each level. Basically, you need to get a key into a door, and from there you are transported to a sub-level, where you must then reach a MiniMario safely and collect it. You can also grab presents along the way for a bonus game where you can win extra lives.
One aspect in Mario VS. Donkey Kong that I’m really worried about is that, so far, every single level introduces a new mechanic or twist on an already revealed mechanic, which leads me to believe that the final levels are just going to be a mess of things to keep track of. Or maybe not. I dunno. It hasn’t been too difficult so far, and the only times I’ve died is from carelessness and not from misunderstanding how to solve the puzzle. Mario does not control like he does in his platforming counterparts; here he is much slower and only able to jump so far, often relying on an odd, handstand-to-double jump trick to get to normally unreachable places. Also, while in this handstand, he doesn’t take damage from falling object, because plumber boots are made of indestructible material.
It’s a really quirky puzzle game that I’m interested in seeing where it goes. I just hope my skills are up to the later challenges. Otherwise, Mario will be falling over and crying “Mama-mia!” more than he cares to.