965th played so far

Genre: Puzzle/Platform
Platform: Game Boy Advance
Year of Release: 2004
Developer: Nintendo Software Technology
Publisher: Nintendo

I couldn’t stay away from platform games forever. I’m running down various lists and this takes care of another double-genre game, while also getting me near the end of the Mario franchise. It’s slight throwback Mario vs. Donkey Kong, a game that takes the feel of the original Donkey Kong but turns it into a complex puzzle game rather than the action platforming of that original title.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever touched this game after I had a look through the 3DS freebies from way back when that was the early buyer bonus, but I’m properly touching it today for the first time. Still, I have a good feeling about it.

Our Thoughts

Like many good puzzle games, Mario vs Donkey Kong has a pretty simple start. Use a switch, grab a key, get some of the optional presents and make your way to the door – a fairly straightforward level that you figure out quite quickly. The game builds from there, relying a lot on blocks being switched on and off, handling enemies and creating safe paths through the level. The aesthetic borrows a fair amount from Donkey Kong, with a lot of elements I recognize from that game and its sequels, although the gameplay only vaguely resembles the game. There are even some really nice moves new to the Mario games, such as a handstand that allows you to “stomp” enemies coming from above.

The game shakes it up quite nicely as well within each world, with the penultimate level being a lemmings-like “guide the toys” scenario that works quite differently. It means that there’s a lot of variety, with there being enough elements that each puzzle feels different, but without overwhelming you at any point.

Final Thoughts

There is a lot at play in this Mario vs Donkey Kong, wrapped in an update of the Donkey Kong style and it’s one of those puzzle games that keeps piling on mechanics rather than giving you a single set that continues to play. The build up really works and it’s a nice way to create a puzzle game in the Mario world that still uses those Mario moves.