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Minis still offering huge fun

May 29, 2013

By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada

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Mario and  Donkey Kong: Minis on the MoveAfter years of being pitted against each other in the long-standing "Mario vs. Donkey Kong" series of handheld puzzle, the latest entry receives a slightly less competitive title. Regardless of its name though, Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move is very much like its predecessors.

Like past "Minis" games, Minis on the Move has players controlling ridiculously cute wind-up versions of popular characters from the Super Mario franchise. Although the game has four different modes, the object of each is still the same, and it's quite simple - get all the Minis safely to the finish point without running out of time.

While the previous four games in the series featured 2D side-scrolling puzzles, Minis on the Move changes things up by offering up levels in 3D. It may sound like a significant change, and technically it is, but somehow, the game still feels much like past titles.

The beauty of Minis on the Move is that it feels instantly familiar to long-time fans of the series, but is sure to be accessible to those who have never experienced any of the past games.

Mario and  Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move It's important to remember that the word "accessible" is used very loosely, because while the opening levels can be completed quite painlessly, the game quickly becomes unforgiving.

Being new to the series is okay, but if you don't have the patience required of fans of puzzle games, you won't last long with Minis on the Move before you end up either throwing your 3DS across the room, or simply giving up (and you may want to opt for the latter option so as to save yourself from having to replace your system).

Although the game gives a very brief tutorial any time a new gameplay element is introduced, it would help immensely to have a glossary available to go back to at any time via the pause menu, as it's not always clear early on what some of the tools do. It's sometimes only through frustrating trial-and-error that certain gameplay elements become understood.

Not only that, but with 10 levels opening up at once, if you decide you want to jump ahead a bit, any new features that may have been introduced in earlier levels that you haven't yet played, aren't explained. It essentially forces you to play each set of 10 levels in order.

The game modes themselves all incorporate the different tools that give the game its delicious difficulty. You'll encounter conveyer belts, warp pipes, Shy Guys, spikes, and more, all while keeping an eye on the time limit.

Mario and  Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move The basic game mode is Mario's Main Event. You only have one Mini to contend with, and random tiles fall from the right side of the screen, a la Tetris. The counter can only hold five tiles at most; any more, and you fail. You have to place the tiles in a pattern that allows your Mini to make its way around the board without falling off the edge or into another tile that doesn't properly connect with the one you're currently on.

It's important to keep in mind that you can never stop your Minis. Once they've started moving, they continue doing so until you fail the level or they reach the finish. You can't slow them down, change their direction, or anything of the sort. If you haven't already, hopefully you now understand the challenge involved with the game.

The second game mode, Puzzle Palace, is similar to the first, with the exception that tiles don't fall randomly. You're given a set amount of them, and there's only one way to complete the level, and it's up to you to figure that out. This is the least-hectic of the four modes, but it still provides plenty of challenge.

Many Mini Mayhem adds multiple Minis to the mix (holy alliteration Batman!), and this mode is bound to be a hugely useful training tool for the childless gamer who becomes a parent later on in life. It takes some serious talent to be able to keep an eye on so many Minis at once, and while having several Minis will allow you to pick up a greater number of helpful items, you'll still have a heck of a time getting them all safely to the finish.

Mario and  Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move Lastly, there's Giant Jungle, which simply ups the difficulty even more on gigantic boards. Time is very limited (although you can pick up clocks to give a bit more breathing room), and there's lots of stuff to acquire in the level. It's for the best of the best.

Although the game offers somewhere around 200 puzzles, Minis on the Move carries over the level creator feature that was included in its predecessor, 2010's Mini-Land Mayhem!

Once again, it's dead simple to create levels. You'll read a few quick tutorial screens, and you'll be off to the races in a matter of minutes. Editing them is a snap, as is jumping in and testing them out. As long as you can complete your own level, you can upload it to Nintendo's servers and share it with other players.

You can of course play other user-created levels, and even save them into your game if you want to try some later on when you're less busy or don't have an Internet connection. You can rank levels, but it's out of a very basic three-point scale and as of the publishing of this review, there were a lot of high-ranked levels that were terribly boring and uninspired.

The only problem with the sharing feature is that it isn't easy searching for specific types of levels. You can search by "Top Weekly," "Random," "Popular," or "Friends," but it would help immensely if you could filter your search using parameters such as level size or keywords ("easy," "quick," "few items," etc.).

Mario and  Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move Beyond the meat and potatoes of Minis on the Move (the puzzles), there are four minigames included. They sure aren't going to win any awards for originality, but damned if they aren't a decent diversion when you need to wind down after a particularly tough puzzle. And hey - betcha can't play Cube Crash just once.

Minis on the Move certainly changes things up, but it's clear Nintendo wasn't ready for a complete overhaul in the series. If you're itching for a challenging puzzle game, you really can't go wrong here.


Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move
Format: Nintendo 3DS
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
Official Site:

Rating: 8 / 10

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