A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What 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.
What's it about?
MARIO VS. DONKEY KONG: MINI-LAND MAYHEM has a plot that's sure to ignite some deja vu: Big ape Donkey Kong falls in love with and carries off the comely Pauline. Mario must go after her, but needs to use his army of wind-up mini-me's to do his dirty work, since, ostensibly, he can't fit into the places the minis can go. Each level is a puzzle, in which you must place (and remove) bridges, doors, springs, and buttons in order to let the minis all reach the exit. In boss battles, the minis must make their way up ladders to hit switches and shock Donkey Kong. The game also has a very in-depth level creator, so players can customize their own puzzles and make them available for other players to download and try out.
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the relatively small amounts of fighting and violence in this otherwise very intellectual game. Does violence, no matter how minor, have a place in a puzzle game?
Parents can also ask their kids about designing their own custom puzzle levels. Is this something that appeals to kids? Does it help them express their creativity? Do they like to try out levels created by other players?
Our editors recommend
For kids who love puzzlers
Top advice and articles
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.