A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
The game forces you to think; you'll never succeed by running into a puzzle unprepared. In that way, it sends a positive message.
Positive Role Models
Mario's a good guy. There's no doubt about that. He immediately runs off to help when there's someone in trouble. Donkey Kong is a love-mad kidnapper here, though, which may confuse younger kids who also see the big ape as the hero in other Donkey Kong games.
Ease of Play
The puzzles are challenging, but the controls are pretty easy to use. Very nice wordless tutorials demonstrate how to use the game's different tools.
Violence & Scariness
The minis -- little wind-up robots -- can be damaged by obstacles (like spikes) or enemies. When damaged, they sit down and stop working. The minis also attack Donkey Kong (the villain) by pressing buttons that send him electric shocks. Donkey Kong has kidnapped a woman, Pauline, in this game; she calls for help throughout.
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Products & Purchases
This is the fourth Mario vs. Donkey Kong game and the umpteenth game to feature either of those Nintendo flagship characters.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that while Donkey Kong has been featured as a hero in Nintendo games for many years, Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem, just like the earlier entries in this puzzle series, takes the big ape back to his villainous roots. He kidnaps a woman, Pauline, who he falls in love with, and Mario must save her by defeating Donkey Kong with a bunch of wind-up toys. Beyond that potentially confusing personality swap, there's not much to worry about in the game. The minor amount of violence here is very cartoony. This is essentially a very brainy puzzle game.
Is It Any Good?
Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem keeps up the same level of quality fun that the prior installments of this puzzle-adventure series have given us. If there's any complaint here, it's that Mini-Land Mayhem doesn't shake things up enough -- but then again, you could say, "If it ain't broke, than don't fix it." The puzzles this time around are colorful and lively, with some nice fun bits like robo-apes that will juggle the minis until you place a bridge somewhere to break the loop. Using the stylus to simply stretch bridges across gaps is a nice simple mechanic, but you only have a limited number of bridge pieces, so there's a great deal of strategy in where and when you place a bridge. And, once you've solved everything, the awesome level creator can provide hours -- heck, weeks -- of fun beyond the main story.
Online interaction: You can send the custom levels you create to Nintendo's central server, where they can be downloaded by other players. User-made levels increase the replay value of the game exponentially.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.