A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What 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.
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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?
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.
Talk to your kids 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?
- Platforms: Nintendo 3DS
- Subjects: Math: estimation, geometry, patterns
- Skills: Tech Skills: digital creation
Creativity: imagination, making new creations, producing new content
Thinking & Reasoning: logic, solving puzzles, strategy
- Price: $9.99
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Nintendo
- Release date: May 10, 2013
- Genre: Puzzle
- ESRB rating: E for Mild Fantasy Violence
For kids who love puzzles and thinking games
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.