Mario vs Donkey Kong (2004) is a Spiritual Successor to the Donkey Kong arcade games. First, it was planned to be an Updated Re-release of Donkey Kong '94 (itself having an improved remake of the original game as its first four levels) with the ability for players to make custom levels. This mechanic was scrapped though and the game was completely reworked and released on the Game Boy Advance. In short, Mario has had Mini-Mario toys made in his image, but Donkey Kong, unable to buy them in stores due to them being sold out, has stolen them from the factory.In the Nintendo DS sequel, March of the Minis (2006), Mario is opening a "Super Mini-Mario World" amusement park, and Pauline (from the original arcade game) is a guest of honor at the opening ceremonies. DK is instantly smitten with her, but when she shuns his Mini-DK gift in favor of a Mini-Mario, he doesn't take it well and abducts her. This game has the level builder that was left out of the original, and begins the trend of removing Mario himself from gameplay, with the players directing the Mini-Marios (and other mini-characters in custom levels) instead.Minis March Again (2009) was the next sequel, exclusively for DSiWare download. DK's in line for the amusement park again, but when tickets sell out he gets pissed and grabs Pauline again. Its main feature was once again the level builder.The series then returned to full retail releases with Mini-Land Mayhem (2010). Mario has made Mini-Pauline toys and is giving them away to the first hundred visitors - but DK is number 101, which... do we really need to explain it?In 2013 the series' first 3D entry was announced; Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move. This entry provides brand new gameplay in a 3D environment.Nintendo 3DS Ambassadors have access to the original game as one of ten free Game Boy Advance games; incidentally, this means they can play every game in the Mario vs. Donkey Kong series on one system.The series is notable for being designed by Americans, with its developer being Nintendo Software Technology Corporation (AKA NST), which is based in Redmond, Washington, like Nintendo's main American division.
Tropes found in Mario Vs Donkey Kong include:
All There in the Manual: The plot of the 5th game is spelled out exclusively on the first page of the digital manual included with it.
Boss-Only Level: Played with in the first game. While clearing the Mini-Mario Levels always leads players to facing Donkey Kong, after the first battle in any given world the Boss Battle itself is freely accessible afterwards, although not going through the MM levels first "punishes" the player with four Hit Points instead of the "usual" six, as it would be the case if all six Mini Marios are rescued.
The first game has DLC in the form of e-Reader cards. Both the US and Japanese games have normally inaccessible pre-loaded levels and only 12 levels can be saved at any given time to the e World, which is strange since there are more than 12 pre-loaded levels in either version (13 in the US's and 14 in the Japanese's, although the US's 13 is a dummy level which doesn't exist in the Japanese version). The levels between the US and Japanese are mostly different, with a few only different in minor ways, most of the levels from the US version being heavily altered in the Japanese version, and some levels from the US version being replaced completely. Only 5 very rare cards were ever released and only in Japan. The e-Reader feature was removed from the Europe version of the game.
In the sequels, the DLC came in the form of Construction Zone levels that can be shared between players either locally or via Wi Fi. Nintendo itself releases levels every once in a while (currently releasing levels in Mini-Land Mayhem once a month). In March of the Minis, limitations made it impossible to have more than 8 self made stages and 24 stages from others. This limitation may also explain why Nintendo itself only has 8 levels up at a time despite having developed more. It was also impossible to download more than one level at a time; As soon as one level was downloaded, you'd be disconnected and would have to reconnect to download another.
In Minis March Again and Mini-Land Mayhem, both of those have been improved, allowing players to not only have far more levels saved at once (160 in Mini-Land Mayhem and self made levels are no longer segregated from others'), but to also download multiple levels without disconnecting and even search for levels in various ways.
Dual Wielding: You know the hammers we just mentioned? Unlike the real Mario, the Mini-Marios use two at once.
Early-Installment Weirdness: The original game actually starred Mario himself over the Mini-Marios, and neither Pauline nor the level editor were present. It was also far more action-based (not unlike Donkey Kong '94) than the Lemmings-type puzzles of the rest of the games, which also use the stylus instead of the buttons.
Exactly What It Says on the Tin: This series has Mario facing his old enemy from his debut into the gaming world, but this time Mario's name actually appears in the title.
Fake Longevity: In Minis March Again, in order to unlock all the stages, you have to get bronze and silver stars in addition to all those gold stars you worked so hard for. In other words, you have to intentionally take too long to complete each stage; and this is just to unlock the rest of the basement stages (only one is available initially after finishing the game). To unlock the remaining roof stages (only a few are available after you complete the game), you need to complete the game all over again in "Plus" mode.
Game-Breaking Bug: (First game bug) In the end of some levels, like the second boss fight, the game might not consider your final score a new high score, but still records it. If the player can't get a better score, then it's time to delete the file and start over.
Level Editor: Pretty much the main attraction of every game but the first.
They do have some limitations, however, as it's not possible to do create certain types of levels seen in the main game, such as any having a Multi-Door Magnet level a la Cosmic Adventure in Mini-Land Mayhem or levels where all Minis are forced to start at once after a 3 second countdown (This limitation can be overcome by having the Minis start off in mid-air, although this doesn't allow players to survey the level beforehand within the level. Luckily, they can do so in the level select screen).
The first game does have a level editor, albeit incomplete and with some limitations of its own (such as not allowing the first level of any world to be edited). Like with the e-Reader levels, it was Dummied Out.
Marathon Level: There are only 3 Giant Jungle levels in Minis on the Move, but it's counteract by the fact that they take around 8 minutes to beat. Most levels take around 10 to 30 seconds.
Minigame: The first had a shell game, the second had a Whack-A-Mole type game, and Mini-Land Mayhem had a sorting game.
Mythology Gag: When a Mini-Peach grabs a Fire Flower, her dress turns white and her hair turns red — just like Peach's color palette in the original Super Mario Bros..
Whenever Pauline gets kidnapped by Donkey Kong, Mario grabs for her but only catches the hem of her dress, tearing it in the same way as the originalDonkey Kong.
New Game+: Subverted by the original; Although the worlds are the same, the individual levels are completely different and have different mechanics. The final battle of Plus Mode is also different.Mini-Land Mayhem plays this straight, for the most part; the only differences are that the order you get Minis to the goal is important, and bosses and minigames are harder.
One-Hit-Point Wonder: If it hurts Mario, it kills him. The exceptions are the bosses at the end of the 12 worlds.
Regional Bonus: Although there were no major gameplay enhancements, the European localization, as well as the Japanese translation of the first game added a few graphical tweaks. Unfortunately, Mario's dialogue during the credits were removed from these localizations.
Mini-Land Mayhem uses each of the world building/tearing mechanics seen throughout all of Donkey Kong '94 (Road, Ladder, Spring, and the Hammer as one of two methods of destroying certain blocks)and more.