Mario vs. Donkey Kong review for Nintendo Switch

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Medium: Digital/Cartridge
Players: 1-2
Online: Yes
ESRB: E

Mario vs. Donkey Kong is a reboot/long awaited sequel of a series of games dating all the way back to 2004 on the GameBoy Advance, consisting of various platforming challenges and minor puzzles. It brings back some of that nice old school feel with some new movement in the more recent Mario titles. The story starts off with Donkey Kong seeing an ad on TV for a new line of Mario toys, but being unable to find them in-store. As a result, he gets angry, robs the factory, and Mario is tasked with retrieving the toys from the angry ape.

If you’ve never played the Mario vs. Donkey Kong series before, each game can be a little different. This iteration of the franchise tasks you with playing as Mario, running and jumping and very minor instances of solving puzzles to make it to the end of each level, collecting as many optional collectables along the way. I for one find that because there’s only 3 collectables per stage that I might as well grab them so I can see that shiny gold star marking each stage as 100% complete at the end.

Once you finish your set of levels (there are 6 per world), you will be granted two “final” levels before you move on to the next set/world. You’ll have to avoid stage hazards, change the stage layout with different colored switches, and avoid ever-creeping obstacles like lava. The fun part about each world is having different themes, introducing you to different puzzle types and obstacles in your way. One minute you’ll be in the regular cityscape and the next world you could be in DK Jungle dodging all sorts of creatures from other Donkey Kong games.

Speaking of Donkey Kong, as is expected, you will be battling him at the end of every world you clear. But before you can do that, you’re tasked with spelling the word “toy” by guiding your 6 mini Mario toys throughout a stage. If you’re not sure what I mean, think of spelling out “SKATE” in the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games, but instead of doing it with skateboard tricks, you’re playing Lemmings. You’ll then have to guide your little guys to the end of the level, and get them to fill up a chest. Each mini Mario you successfully guide to the chest acts as a singular point of HP for the Donkey Kong battles. Boss fights aren’t superbly difficult, you’ll just be dodging barrels that DK throws at you while keeping your eyes out for whatever stage hazards are on that world he’ll be periodically throwing at you.

Overall, I wouldn’t say Mario vs. Donkey Kong is a challenging game. It’s a nice puzzle and platformer that urges you to want to collect all the collectables in each stage for that gold star marking your completion. I would say it’s a good introduction to some puzzle games for younger audiences, or if you just want something to relax with and play, Nintendo has you covered with this release. It’s not the deepest game you’ll play, and it’s not super complex, but I find that it is a very nice game to sit down and just bang out a few levels. If you’re looking for something nice and simple, but yet something you can still have an enjoyable time with, definitely look in the direction of this new Mario vs. Donkey Kong game.

Nintendo provided us with a Mario vs. Donkey Kong Nintendo Switch code for review purposes.

Score: 8

Mario Vs. Donkey Kong™ - US Version

Price: $49.33

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