Still fighting over girls after all these years, Mario and Donkey Kong reignite their old feud once again in Mario vs Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis. The story begins with the opening of Mario’s new theme park, inspired by a series of toys Mario has created, which include wind-up versions of himself, Donkey Kong, and other familiar characters. The lovely Pauline (of earlier Donkey Kong fame) is the ceremony’s guest of honor. When Pauline chooses the Mario toy over the DK toy, gazing longingly at the little wind-up plumber, Kong’s old jealousy takes over. He swiftly snatches away Pauline, daring Mario to come after him.
In Mario’s previous adventures he never hesitated to risk his own safety on the front lines of battle to rescue the girl, but this time Mario sends his armies of mechanical minions into harm’s way instead. (Maybe it’s not in his contract anymore?)
The main game consists of 8 worlds, each with 9 short levels. In each level, you start out with several mini Marios (anywhere from 2 to 6 of them). Using only the stylus, you must create a safe route across the level for the minis to traverse, reaching the door to safety. The puzzles start off easy, but quickly become harder as new elements are added. Each world introduces new ways to thwart the minis from reaching their goal: you must move blocks, hit switches, burn logs, turn water valves, and get past mechanical Kongs to get through each level. Face Kong himself in a boss battle at the end of each world, only to have him scurry away again to meet you again at the next world's boss battle.
Only one Mario needs to make it to safety in order to pass each level, so if you don’t focus on picking up all the extras in each level (like high score awards, coins, and cards), you may find yourself blowing through the entire game in only a few hours. The most satisfying part of the gameplay, however, comes from refining your technique and figuring out ways to attack each puzzle more efficiently to earn the highest score possible. Merely passing each of the game’s 72 levels is the easy part. Dominating each of them proves much more difficult, and often takes complex planning and execution.
Above: Play through levels in the main game (left), or create your own levels to play or send to friends (right).
March of Minis makes excellent use of the DS’s Wi-Fi Connection with the Construction Mode, letting you create your own levels, either from scratch or with a Contruction Kit template. Construction Kits will become available when you pass each of the 8 worlds in the main game, as well as by playing the unlockable minigame in each world (collect the Mario card in each level of the world to unlock the game).
Use the Construction Kits to create your own levels and send them to friends to test their skills. By hooking up with other players via Wi-Fi, you’re also able to play levels that other players create, giving you a virtually endless array of levels to puzzle over even after you’ve completed the main game. This added feature makes March of the Minis an especially great puzzler, even if it lacks the koopa-stomping action of other Mario titles.