Mario Vs Donkey Kong Lifestlye
Source: CrackBerry

We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.

Mario. Plumber. Golfer…and the hottest new toy of 2024???

A tiny and cute Mario toy catches the eye of Donkey Kong and sets forth a chain of events that sees Mario on an adventure he hasn't embarked on in two decades.

One of the Game Boy Advance's most fun, but under-appreciated titles gets a new life on Nintendo Switch with the release of Mario vs. Donkey Kong.

For those who prefer a video for a video game review rather than an article, here ya go!

Disclaimer

To be completely upfront with anyone reading this article, I want to note that I received this game from Nintendo ahead of release for free.

While Nintendo does not get any editorial approval with this article, I do want to flag that I agreed to keep a few elements of the game secret, so there would still be some surprises for people who pick it up on day one. This means my coverage will only go up to World 6 in the game and won't be mentioning any twists, final cutscenes, or detailed walkthroughs.

Mario Vs Donkey Kong Toy Factory
Source: CrackBerry

I think it's a fair deal, otherwise I wouldn't have agreed to it. But for some people, this may be off-putting and they'd rather wait to read a complete review that comes out after release. Now you know, so you can decide whether you want to read on. But I hope you do keep reading because there's lots to say about this new game!

Backstory

Mario vs. Donkey Kong comes barreling to Nintendo Switch February 16th. This is a remake of a Game Boy Advance title that came out 20 years earlier. For those who may have nostalgic memories of the original (like the cute voices of the toys shouting "Mario…oh, Mario!") all those good vibes are still there. Plus, there are a few new levels and gameplay mechanics at work.

Mario vs Donkey Kong Watch TV
Source: CrackBerry

If you've never played this title before, here's the backstory. DK watches a commercial for a new Mario toy. He becomes obsessed and raids the factory, grabbing all the little Mario figurines. The real Mario chases Donkey Kong through various worlds to return all the toys to their toy box.

Mario vs Donkey Kong Mini Mario Toys
Source: CrackBerry

Gameplay

Each level is divided into two parts. First, you have to locate a key and carry it through the level to a locked door. Behind the locked door, you'll find another stage within the level, where a trapped Mario toy waits in a bubble.

Within each course, there are three gifts that can be collected as an optional task. But for those who like to 100 percent every game, these are easy enough to snag as you make your way toward the keys and Mario toys. However, you are racing against the clock, so you don't want to dawdle too much to track down those presents.

Mario Vs Donkey Kong Jungle Boss
Source: CrackBerry

Navigating through the courses is extremely easy. The difficulty begins to increase around World 4: Merry Mini-Land, but overall, this is not a challenging game. While for some people, this might be welcome, and I am a person who doesn't like to grind away at a difficult game, trust me when I say the early worlds are a breeze.

At the end of each world, there are two finale courses. One where Mario guides the little toys back to a toy box. And a second where Mario faces DK and must throw barrels at him until he moves to the next world.

Mario Vs Donkey Kong Mini Toy Box
Source: CrackBerry

Overall, the game play is fun, but not challenging. It's a mix of a platformer as you evade enemies on your quest to rescue the toys. But there is a little bit of puzzle solving involved, particularly in later levels, where it may take some thinking to figure out exactly how to retrieve those keys.

Play Style

The game has two play style modes, casual and classic. In casual mode, if Mario comes into contact with an enemy, instead of getting a Game Over screen and restarting the level, he simply goes into a bubble and floats back to a safe spot, so the player can try again.

Classic mode is recommended for players looking for more of a challenge…but, as mentioned, this game isn't overly challenging.

Mario Vs Donkey Kong Merry Mini Land
Source: CrackBerry

Unlike in the original GBA version, the Nintendo Switch edition has a two-player couch co-op mode. The second player joins as Toad and has the same move mechanics as Mario. When playing in two player mode, a second silver key is added giving players two tasks before clearing a level. Two player mode is a pretty fun way to experience this game, or is a nice option when you want to have a second playthrough that feels a little different.

Mario Vs Donkey Kong 2 Player
Source: CrackBerry

Although this is a remake of a Game Boy Advance game, for anyone who may remember the original Donkey Kong game on Game Boy, you're gonna love this! Aside from the element of having toy Marios to retrieve, the game play feels very much like the original Game Boy version.

Overall Impressions

I love Nintendo games. The only thing I love more than new Nintendo games is old Nintendo games. So, for me, the release of Marios vs. Donkey Kong on Switch is a best-of-both-worlds type of scenario.

When trying to temper my excitement and be a bit more objective, I have to admit that the first few worlds of the game are easy, almost to a fault. World 1, Mario Toy Company, is basically the tutorial level. You get time to learn Marios available moves, interact with different enemy types, that's fine.

Mario Vs Donkey Kong Slipper Summit
Source: CrackBerry

But World 2, Donkey Kong Jungle, still feels overly simple to the point of not being challenging. It was super fun to see elements from the original Game Boy DK game like the little monkeys, crocs, and birds flying through the jungle, but that nostalgia only carried me so far. By the time I got to fire mountain, and the levels were still quite easy, I began to wonder if this game is worth the full retail price at launch. After all, lava levels are supposed to be hard, right?

Mario Vs Donkey Kong Lava Key
Source: CrackBerry

Fortunately, by World 4, Merry Mini-Land, the challenge increased and I found myself needing a bit more time to navigate. In the levels after that (Spooky House, a ghost themed world, and Slippery Summit and Icy playground) the challenge finally kicked in enough that I would find that every couple of levels, I either ran out of time trying to move that darn key through the ice, or got a game over when a ghost crept up on me while I was climbing a rope.

Mario Vs Donkey Kong Perfect Level Clear
Source: CrackBerry

Eventually, new elements like a Time Attack and Expert Levels are unlocked, which makes the game much more challenging. But in the early worlds, expect a pretty light difficulty. This definitely skews more toward Kirby and the Forgotten Kingdom than Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze when it comes to the level of challenge.

Mario Vs Donkey Kong Box Art

Mario vs. Donkey Kong

4 / 5

Mario vs. Donkey Kong was first released for Game Boy Advance 20 years ago. The Nintendo Switch version adds new levels, a two player mode, and more!

Final Thoughts

I really like this game a lot. It's such a vibrant and fun sandbox to play in. The addition of two player mode and some new levels breathes life into the 20-year-old title.

If you're on the fence, Nintendo has released a Demo, so you can test the waters.

If you have played Mario vs. Donkey Kong on Game Boy Advance (and suffered through that terrible screen), revisiting this game on Nintendo Switch is an absolute delight.

Mario Vs Donkey Kong Toy Sack
Source: CrackBerry

For many, this could be their first time playing a Mario or Donkey Kong game like this. I think the original title was maybe a little under appreciated, so I am happy that a new generation of players will get to experience the fun of Donkey Kong's barrel tossing, Mario's backflips and key carrying, and those sweet, little high-pitched toy Mario voices, as they are shepherded through the levels and into their toy box.

Read more