Casual Capers and Co-op Chaos: What's New in Mario vs. Donkey Kong?

Twenty years after first hitting the Game Boy Advance, Mario vs. Donkey Kong returns and is more interesting than ever with many new things and additions

by Sededin Dedovic
Casual Capers and Co-op Chaos: What's New in Mario vs. Donkey Kong?
© Nintendo of America / Youtube channel

Twenty years after first hitting the Game Boy Advance, Mario vs. Donkey Kong returns, reminding us that sometimes the greatest rivalries blossom into the most wonderful adventures. While the title might conjure up images of epic showdowns, this charming puzzle-platformer takes a more relaxed approach, focusing on Mario's quest to recover his stolen Mini-Mario toys from the clutches of the mischievous Donkey Kong.

Departing from their usual turf, they find themselves navigating a world of environmental puzzles and time challenges, offering a unique twist on their iconic rivalry. This recent remake stays true to the spirit of the original, but gives it some welcome modernizations.

Casual Mode throws a lifeline for players who might find the pressure of a ticking clock daunting. Here, they can explore puzzles and defeat enemies at their own pace, making it an ideal entry point for younger players or those looking for a more relaxed experience.

However, the missed opportunity lies in limiting Casual Mode to one player. The co-op mode, designed to have two players work together to collect an extra key, still carries the weight of a timer, potentially creating a dissonance with the intended relaxed atmosphere.

Where the remake really shines is in the two-player experience, a feature absent from the original. Coordinating with a friend or family member to solve puzzles and collect keys adds a wonderful layer of teamwork and fun to the mix.

This collaborative approach broadens the game's appeal, making it perfect for creating lasting memories with loved ones.

Mario vs Donkey Kong Gameplay© Nintendo of America / Youtube channel

Nintendo's signature touch is evident in the content, which offers excellent value for the price.

Two brand new worlds and 16 bonus levels extend playtime well beyond ten hours, ensuring there's plenty to explore and conquer. New mechanics like sliding add variety to the familiar formula, while alternate versions of existing stages provide an extra layer of challenge for experienced players.

However, those expecting a radical reinvention may be left wanting. The remake doesn't stray too far from the established path, and fans hoping for a deeper exploration of Donkey Kong's perspective or a more nuanced conflict will likely find themselves longing for something more substantial.

While the bonus features are on the minimal side, the core gameplay remains smooth and satisfying. The visuals, reminiscent of Super Mario Maker 2 rather than the groundbreaking visuals of Super Mario Bros. Wonder, they maintain the charm and vibrancy of the franchise.

Charming scenes, absent from the original, add context and emotional depth to the narrative.

Mario vs Donkey Kong Gameplay© Nintendo of America / Youtube channel

Despite the visual brilliance, the controls occasionally falter.

They are in no way playable, lacking the pixel precision found in other Mario titles. This can lead to unintended actions and frustrating inconsistencies, especially when the clock is ticking. However, these occasional hiccups don't significantly detract from the overall experience.

With a relatively high price tag depending on the region, Mario vs. Donkey Kong sits comfortably below other Nintendo remakes and remasters. Substantial core content and engaging co-op mode justify the cost, making it an attractive option for families or casual gamers.

While more generous bonus features would have been appreciated, the remake refrains from the content cuts that sometimes plague remakes, ensuring a faithful and enjoyable experience. The game's soundtrack is packed with catchy tunes and playful sound effects that perfectly complement the carefree atmosphere, further enhancing the overall experience.

Casual Mode and co-op play make the game welcoming to players of all skill levels, ensuring that everyone can join in on the fun, regardless of their gaming experience.
With multiple difficulty levels, alternate stages and bonus challenges, the game offers decent replay value for those looking to hone their skills or unlock everything.

The game also has educational potential, which is especially important for the youngest players to develop their logic and intelligence.
The puzzle-solving aspects of the game can help younger players develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills in a fun and engaging way.

While there might be more action-packed or visually groundbreaking Mario adventures available for a bit more, Mario vs. Donkey Kong remains a solid addition to any Nintendo Switch collection. Its accessible puzzle platforming, charming visuals, and engaging co-op mode make it a perfect choice for families and casual gamers looking for a fun and enjoyable experience.

Of course, we have mentioned some minor omissions and minor problems with this game, but the overall experience is satisfactory and we sincerely recommend that you play this game. Whether or not Mario vs. Donkey Kong works for you depends on your individual preferences.

If you're looking for a light-hearted puzzle-platformer with a charming twist on a classic rivalry, this remake is definitely worth a look. If, however, you crave intense action, groundbreaking visuals, or a deeper narrative, you may find more fulfilling experiences elsewhere.