Mario vs Donkey Kong is a 2D side scrolling platformer puzzle game. It has forty-eight levels spread out through six worlds with eight levels in each. You play Mario, and Donkey Kong has stolen wind up Mario doll toys from a toy factory. Yes, this is seriously the plot! As Mario, you start a level, and you are able to jump (A button), when on top of objects, you can lift them over your head (B button), and you can perform advanced tricks, like pressing left, right and the A button to perform a high jump.
At the start of each level, it shows you how to perform a new trick or a hint to get you past something. This is a generalized hint, nothing specific, with a little animation showing you how to do the trick. While this is a good puzzle game, most of it is easy, but unfortunately there is not much replay value in the game. Each level has three “gifts” to collect as something that adds to the replay value. If the game is too easy, once you beat the game, there’s a second quest through all of the original levels.
The eight levels each have two parts to them, the first part, Mario must get the key to a door, then get it back to the door, if he throws the key (which sometimes you need to), Mario will have 12 seconds to get the key again and pick it up, or else it will disappear and return to where the key was originally.
Then the second part is just to get to the wind up Mario doll and pick it up. It is a puzzle game, because in each level, there are red, yellow and blue switches, where if you hit a red switch, it makes red platforms and ladders appear, and the colored platforms and ladders disappear. After the first world it gets more tricky with vines and cables for Mario to climb, then in later levels there are convener belts with switches to reverse them. Timing is also important, such as in some levels you must throw a key onto a convener belt, and hit a switch to reverse the convener belt, then race to hit a switch to enable a yellow colored platform before the key drops off the belt into something that could destroy the key.
There are also enemies that are strategically placed, along with ways to get around them or make them disappear. The levels are not big, only four screens large, but the levels don’t need to be large, from how clever Nintendo has made the puzzles. Each world has a theme to it, the first level is the toy factory theme, second is a forest theme, third is a lava palace and three other themes.
The first six levels of each world are strictly to get a key and get a Mario doll in each of them. Then the seventh level of each world is where Mario must lead the six wind-up Mario dolls through the level, if one of the dolls don’t make it to the end of the level, that will effect the eighth level. The eighth level of each world is a battle with Donkey Kong.
For each boss fight you have to do something different to beat the bad monkey, all while Donkey Kong stands in one place and does something to defend himself, usually by throwing things at Mario. However many of the six dolls that made it through the seventh level will be how much energy Mario has when he faces Donkey Kong, so if three wind-up Mario dolls get destroyed in the seventh level, Mario can be hit three times in his battle with Donkey Kong at the end of each world.
Mario vs Donkey Kong is a good game, great music for GBA, simple controls, but once you have completed the game, that’s it.