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Mario vs. Donkey Kong (GBA)
Publisher:  Nintendo Developer:  NST
Genre:  Action Release Date:  05/24/2004
ESRB:  Everyone More Info on this Game
By Bryn Williams | May 26, 2004
After countless years of gaming the grudge match that started 'em all is back with a new twist.
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Pros Cons
Responsive controls; interesting rendered character models; a new take on the classic grudge. No hint of multiplayer; a tad on the short side; puzzles might frustrate.

Both Mario and Donkey Kong have enjoyed long, illustrious careers in gaming. Both chaps started out battling each other in Nintendo's classic Donkey Kong arcade game, and now after many years of apparent closure, they're back at each other's throats again. Mario vs. Donkey Kong is a puzzle game that takes bits of inspiration from the likes of Nintendo's Game & Watch handhelds, the old puzzler Lemmings, and the original Donkey Kong that kicked this all off in the first place.

First up, let me start things off by saying that if you don't like puzzle games, then this one's not for you. While at first glance it might seem as though Mario vs. Donkey Kong is all about platform action, the heavy puzzling elements become very apparent after only a few minutes of play. I'm not saying that puzzle gaming is a bad thing, but just don't be fooled by the title of the game.

The story sees the big old monkey flipping through the channels on his TV one afternoon when a commercial for the all-new Mini-Mario toys pops up. Donkey Kong's eyes glaze over as he realizes he must now "collect them all" at all costs. Being an 800lb gorilla, the easiest way to achieve this is simply to break into the Mini-Mario toy manufacturing plant and steal them all. Horrified by the news of the theft, and indeed, by this monkeying around, Mario sets out on a mission to beat DK and recover all of his precious and presumably lucrative toys.

The game kicks off offering up six worlds, each of which present six two-level areas: one Mini-Mario level and one Donkey Kong boss level. The two-level areas is where the majority of the gameplay takes place and sees Mario jumping, back-flipping, and running around avoiding enemies, grabbing keys and opening doors. Once the door on the first screen has been unlocked, Mario needs to try and snag the Mini-Mario toy which is invariably in a tricky spot somewhere in the level.

Once this has been replicated for each of the six two-level stages, Mario will need to guide all six rescued Mini-Mario toys (this is where the Lemmings vibe really kicks in) into a toy box to end the calamity. Once that's done, he'll need to face off against Donkey Kong to progress to the next world. If you're so inclined, once the regular game has been beaten, another set of six worlds open up -- called "plus" worlds -- which provide a much harder, stronger challenge. Better still, if you earn a gold star (achieved by collecting three gift items and a high score) on each of the initial 48 stages, and ultra-hard "expert" set of levels will be accessible -- but these are truly only for the hardcore.

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