Mario and Donkey Kong Minis on the Move

 

Learning(i)

Kids don thinking caps to play and create puzzles.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

This game encourages players to use their noodles to figure out solutions to timed puzzles. It also lets kids express their creativity in the puzzle-building mode.

Positive role models

The characters are all robotic toys that simply follow paths manipulated by the player. There aren't really any role models within the game, good or bad.

Ease of play

Puzzles range in difficulty from extremely easy to quite challenging. There are plenty of different modes and unlockable bonuses, so players can usually just move on to something else if they can't crack a particular conundrum, but there will come a time when they'll need to bear down and work a puzzle out if they want to earn more stars to unlock more puzzles and toys.

Violence & scariness

Typical Mario game dangers are present in this game. Characters can fall off ledges or onto spikes, ending levels. Bullet Bills slowly move across the sky to strike Mario. Unlike most Mario games, the characters here are robotic toys, not people or animals, so they don't shout or yell.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

This game is part of Nintendo's massive Mario franchise, which includes games, toys, TV shows, a movie, and other merchandise.

Privacy & safety

Minor privacy concerns. Players can share puzzles they build with the rest of the world. That means there's a slight potential for mischievous players to attempt to create puzzles that may result in offensive images. 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move is a downloadable puzzle game available for Nintendo 3DS. Kids will put on their thinking caps to solve a variety of puzzles in which they have to create safe paths for little robots that perpetually move forward. It has very little in the way of violence, though its membership in Nintendo's Mario franchise is likely to maintain or grow kids' fascination with products bearing the Italian plumber's visage. Parents should also note that this game's online puzzle building and sharing mode is mostly safe (you can't communicate directily with any other players), but there's slight potential for players to run across a custom puzzle made by a mischievous player intent on offending the public.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Math

  • estimation
  • geometry
  • patterns

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • logic
  • solving puzzles
  • strategy

Creativity

  • producing new content
  • imagination
  • making new creations

Tech Skills

  • digital creation

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Inviting visual design, a huge variety of puzzle types, and a shallow learning curve work together to entice kids into this collection of conundrums as surely as cheese attracting cartoon mice.  

Learning Approach

Solving puzzles is what this game is about, which means players spend virtually all of their time engaged in logic and reasoning. Plus, solving puzzles rewards kids with yet more puzzles, keeping them focused.

Support

Clear instructions accompanied by demonstration videos help kids learn new tactics. However, some particularly tricky puzzles may force them to look online for solutions posted by other players. 

What kids can learn

Subjects

Math

  • estimation
  • geometry
  • patterns

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • logic
  • solving puzzles
  • strategy

Creativity

  • producing new content
  • imagination
  • making new creations

Tech Skills

  • digital creation

Kids can learn about logic, reasoning, and digital creation in this easy-to-learn but challenging little puzzle game. Players need to think several steps ahead, planning out where and how to place, shift, and rotate tiles that act as movement commands for miniature wind-up toys that never stop marching forward. They can also build their own puzzles, figuring out solutions to puzzles from the reverse perspective. It can get pretty tricky -- especially when working under a timer -- but Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move will keep kids thinking from boot up to shut down.

This Learning Rating review was written by Chad Sapieha

Parents say

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What's it about?

The latest entry in Nintendo's Mario Minis series, MARIO AND DONKEY KONG: MINIS ON THE MOVE eschews any sort of plot and instead simply focuses on delivering puzzles. Lots of puzzles. The main game is composed of four sets of puzzles, each of which puts a clever spin on the series' shtick of having players create safe paths for miniature windup robots. Mario's Main Event has kids sliding block-shaped tile pieces out of a pipe to forge winding trails for their minis to follow. Puzzle Palace, meanwhile, is concerned with using a collection of specific tile pieces to create the most efficient routes for mini Princess Peach toys to traverse. Many Mini Mayhem involves sliding and rotating tiles already on the board with an aim to move multiple Toads to the goal. And Giant Jungle sets a Donkey Kong toy loose on a huge board, challenging players to use randomly provided tiles to get the big monkey to the finish before time runs out, picking up stars and time bonuses along the way. As you progress you'll unlock a quartet of simple mini-games -- including one in which a Mario robot ratchets a platform up and down to catch coins and avoid Bullet Bills -- and earn collectible toys. A Create and Share mode allows kids to author and share their own puzzles using an intuitive editor.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

With close to 200 puzzles and games -- plus the ability to download countless player-made puzzles online -- Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move provides a lot of bang for a $10 game. The main mode will provide hours of constantly evolving fun. With each new set of unlocked puzzles, players confront new rules and tile types, including ones that rotate, automatically move minis forward, and devour other tiles like garbage compactors. And the learning curve is gradual, so you'll have a chance to unlock a bit of everything before the puzzles get really tough -- and they will.

Issues are minor, and mostly to do with taste. Easily stressed players probably won't like that most of the puzzles are timed in some way. Kids who like to come up with their own solutions will enjoy the open ended nature of some puzzles, but be frustrated by those that require more rigid, linear thinking. The opposite will be true for players who enjoy eliminating possibilities to eke out a puzzle's single correct answer. The good news, though, is that regardless of which kind of player you are, you're likely to find something here that fits your puzzling proclivity.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about using logic to solve problems. It can be fun to use your mind to connect ideas to form bigger pictures that help reveal how things work. Do you think you might have fun working out solutions to problems for a living? What sort of careers require good problem solving skills?

  • Families can also discuss consumerism. We all get excited when we see products that bear the faces of characters we love or brands we admire. Unfortunately, many such products turn out to be disappointing. How do you determine which, if any, of these products is worth your money? What buying criteria do you use?

Game details

Platforms:Nintendo 3DS
Price:$9.99
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Nintendo
Release date:May 10, 2013
Genre:Puzzle
ESRB rating:E for Mild Fantasy Violence (Nintendo 3DS)

This review of Mario and Donkey Kong Minis on the Move was written by

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 13 years old Written byTheIceKing December 29, 2013
age 5+
 

Fun game is hard to master

This is fun! It's easy enough to play, and there is nothing inappropriate about it. But parents can still be iffy about the comic mischef. But still, enjoy playing the game.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much consumerism
Easy to play/use
Safety and privacy concerns

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