Video Game: Mario vs. Donkey Kong
It's a new way to play an old arcade classic.
Mario vs Donkey Kong
is a series of platform-puzzle video games for Nintendo
's portable systems (with the latest one released on the Wii U
as well). The series started out as a Spiritual Successor
to the original Donkey Kong
arcade game, where Mario
was out to catch the titular gorilla
and keep him from causing trouble, but the gameplay soon went in a slightly different direction.
Games in the series:
- Mario vs Donkey Kong (2004, Game Boy Advance): Originally planned to be an Updated Re-release of Donkey Kong '94 (itself presented as a remake of the original arcade game for its first four levels), though it ended up being an entirely new game. 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.
- March of the Minis (2006, Nintendo DS): The first title to have the gameplay that the rest of the series is known for; featuring Mini-Mario toys that move around the levels on their own and that the player must keep safe by manipulating the environment. 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 also introduces a level editor, which would become a major series feature.
- Minis March Again (2009, Nintendo DS digital-only): DK's in line for the amusement park again, but when tickets sell out he gets pissed and grabs Pauline again.
- Mini-Land Mayhem (2010, Nintendo DS). 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?
- Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move (2013, Nintendo 3DS, digital-only): In a change to the usual formula, the game is played from a top-down perspective in a 3-D environment instead of from the side. The lack of a Versus Title is also intentional, as the plot this time is that Mario is hosting a Mini Toy Carnival, and DK and Pauline are running one of the game stalls together.
- Tipping Stars (2015, Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, digital-only): DK has kidnapped Pauline again, with no reason given this time (until the ending, anyway). While the gameplay is the same as in earlier games, the title comes from the fact that players can hand out stars to other players as tips for their user-created levels.
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:
- A Winner Is You: Finishing the main campaign of Tipping Stars will reward you with a slightly-animated cutscene of DK and Pauline revealing the whole rigmarole of saving her was a setup for a surprise party. Said cutscene only lasts for a few seconds.
- 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.
- Bonus Stage: The GBA original has two.
- 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.
- Played straighter in the sequels.
- The Bus Came Back: Pauline.
- Convection Schmonvection: It's a Mario game.
- Cranium Ride: Can be done in the first three games.
- Darker and Edgier: In the first game, they managed to make Donkey Kong creepy, as seen in the boxart. Then you get to see him in-game, and yes, he's a menacing villain: he growls, he uses a Shadow Discretion Shot to show his ambush on the poor Toads, and so on. Then it got worse since the game itself, as a whole, is pretty darker than your usual Mario game. In the real final battle, after you destroy his mecha, he shows his pain by screaming at the top of his lungs, resulting in an inhumanly painful-looking death cry...only to jump back up and succumb to childish sobbing afterwards.
- Downloadable Content: Each of the games have DLC.
- 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.
- Drop the Hammer: Again, this can be done in every game released so far. Duh.
- 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.
- Easter Egg: In Minis March Again, closing the DS will make Mario speak a random sentence, and so will opening it again. Close it and open it back up repeatedly, and Mario may exclaim "Not again!".
- 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.
- Excuse Plot: The first game had a cutscenes via slideshow and were probably the most elaborate of plots for the entire series. Then once the series began opting for the Lemmings-style stylus-centric gameplay it's known for now, the "excuseness" of the plots became more apparent. It culminated in the most recent installment as of 2015, Tipping Stars, where the introduction cutscene is composed of only one screen of "plot", showing DK carrying Pauline off with Mario in pursuit. The normal ending isn't any better, which is also one screen with sightly animated assets revealing the whole game being a setup for a surprise party for Mario.
- 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.
- Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: Donkey Kong's Humongous Mecha in the first game, which attacks very identical to the Final Boss of Game Boy Donkey Kong. Where did he get it from?
- Good Versus Good
- Here We Go Again: In the first game, Mario quotes the trope word-for-word. For good reason.
- In Case of Boss Fight, Break Glass: The final boss.
- Just Friends: Mario and Pauline.
- 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.
- The level editor in Tipping Stars is given bigger focus, as when you rate a level, the person who made it gets stars, which they buy more things from the Workshop Store to build better levels. Of course, you can get stars by yourself, but getting them from other players is faster and more rewarding.
- 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.
- Mission-Pack Sequel: And how... the first two games and the 3D-based Minis on the Move are the only truly original titles - the others are, at their core, custom level arrangements of Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis. Granted, there are a few incremental updates to the same formula; Minis March Again simplified the gameplay with less control over the minis themselves and focusing more on the time aspect, Mini-Land Mayhem! changed the DK boss setup and included more minigames, and Tipping Stars exclusively has Mini Luigi and a Workshop store where you can buy features with your accumulated points, and there are a few minor enhancements to the enemy and obstacle types over time.
- 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 original Donkey Kong.
- Several tunes in Mini-Land Mayhem are remixes of Mario 2 tunes.
- 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.
- Rant-Inducing Slight: DK gets set off by one in every game.
- Rearrange the Song: The first game's title screen theme is a combination of the Super Mario Bros overworld theme and the Donkey Kong Country title screen theme.
- 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.
- Robot Me: The Mini-Marios are basically Exactly What It Says on the Tin wind-up toys. Also, the True Final Boss of the first game is a Humongous Mecha shaped like and piloted by DK.
- Spiritual Successor: The first is this to Donkey Kong '94, while the later titles are this to Mario And Wario.
- Graphically, the first game use pre-rendered 3D models, not unlike Donkey Kong Country.
- 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.
- Suddenly Voiced: Mario in the original game (one of the few canon examples of him saying full sentences; most apparent in the ending credits), and Pauline in Mini-Land Mayhem.
- Versus Title: For the first four games. Minis on the Move changes it to Mario and Donkey Kong. Only For Mario Vs Donkey Kong : Tipping Stars to change it BACK.
- Wind-Up Key: On the Mini-Marios and the other toy characters.