A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a challenging puzzle game that can create a high level of frustration in children under age 8. This is a good game to play with your kids, offering suggestions if they get stuck. Since these puzzles are very hard to complete, parents should be impressed with kids who make it through any part of them. Because the game offers a Construction Mode, this is an excellent feature for families to use together -- parents and kids can trade custom-made levels!
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What's it about?
Mario's latest adventure casts him into the role of master toymaker, inventing cute clockwork Mario robots as well as versions of other Mushroom Kingdom denizens. The toy line is so successful that he opens an amusement park to showcase his minis that attracts a bunch of familiar characters, including Donkey Kong and Pauline (the long-forgotten femme fatale from the first Donkey Kong game). Donkey Kong takes a monkey-shine to Pauline and, true to his nature, promptly captures her, smashes up the park, and hides himself in the factory. Mario comes to the rescue, with the help of scores of wind-up alter-egos.
MARIO VS. DONKEY KONG 2: MARCH OF THE MINIS offers nine themed worlds (each with nine levels), a bunch of clever Mini games, and a showdown boss level against the wily monkey himself. Tap a mini-Mario to get him moving, make him stop, or get him to jump. Each level has obstacles, enemies, pits, traps, and more, and getting the minis safely to the door on the other end of the screen is the goal. You'll do plenty of timing and tapping with the stylus to get them to stop at the edge of a pit, or enter an elevator at just the right time.
Is it any good?
There's a lot of game here, but players need to realize that this is not a sequel to spring's excellent New Super Mario Bros. This is a clever puzzler much like the fan-favorite PC legend Lemmings. The game is simple and addictive.
The game's powerful Construction Mode lets players use the stylus to build their own custom levels and challenges. Even better, these can be traded via Wi-Fi. This is good, clean, challenging fun for puzzle fans and Mario fans alike. There's nothing "mini" about the gameplay here.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about strategies for solving the puzzles. Sometimes it's best to look at solving a puzzle from a different perspective instead of doing the same thing over and over again. Families might also discuss the different kinds of puzzles that can be created using the Construction option. Since Donkey Kong has a bad habit of nabbing damsels, families could talk about why the "rescuing the princess" theme is so popular in fairy tales and in some video games. How do girls feel about having to be rescued? How does anyone feel about needing to be rescued? How does it feel to be the hero?
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