Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem Review

By Marissa Meli - Posted Nov 23, 2010

Though it's not the Mini/Baby yaoi crossover recently predicted by industry analyst Michael Pachter, Mario and Donkey Kong's fourth handheld showdown is nothing to thumb your nose at. The difficulty is just right, the create and share mode is back, and Mario's taste in women has migrated to Slutsburg. Wind ‘em up: it's puzzle time.

The Pros
  • Puzzles are engaging without being frustrating.
  • Gamers looking for a rougher challenge will be satisfied with bonus stages and Plus mode.
  • Create and share mode grants potential staying power.
The Cons
  • Adds nothing new to the franchise.
  • Majority of bonus content relies on community input.

Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem Review:

In Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem, Mario has opened up his own theme park, and with a blissfully unaware Princess Peach at home trading hair bows with Birdo, he’s giving out busty Pauline dolls to the first 100 visitors. Donkey Kong is 101st in line, so he angrily makes off with the next best thing: the real Pauline.

Mario vs. Donkey Kong Mini-Land Mayhem


In order to retrieve she of the smoker’s voice, padded butt, and Snook-alike hairstyle, Mario must chase DK through eight areas of the theme park. Rather than get his own gloves dirty, Mario sends his wind-up Mini-Marios through each of the areas’ multiple stages. Once you start them up they’ll never stop, so you’ll need to make a mental path through the obstacles and enemies before letting the bots loose. The trick is manipulating the limited construction material on the fly, often coming to the rescue with a warp pipe or girder moments before your Minis fall to their deaths.

Each area adds a new element, like Mini-firing cannons and magnetic walls, so players never get so comfortable with the tools at hand as to effortlessly navigate new stages.

There aren’t any moments of real discomfort, either: each stage and DK mini-boss is passible with a decent amount of logic and effort. Completing the game won’t be a problem for the average gamer, but may be too easy for puzzle pros, even those who are committed to grabbing every bonus card and coin. In that event, beating the final stage unlocks a Plus mode that requires players to complete the stages with your Minis marching in a certain order. These and the bonus expert levels will test your intellect and your patience, unless you are some kind of super-smart jerk.

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It’s on like Donkey Kong©®™

Nintendo is on a trademarking spree of late, and this extends to Mini-Land Mayhem’s create and share mode. Before sharing your levels with the public, you must grant Nintendo the right to co-opt your brainchildren for their own purposes, private and public. Though I suppose if Ninty wants to publish an MvDK sequel composed entirely of Minecraft and/or genital-themed stages, it’s on them.

Only a few user-made levels were available during my pre-release playthrough, but I have faith in our community. Mini-Land Mayhem’s easy-to-use Construction Zone is sure to breed some awesome fan-made levels, injecting the game with Gamestop-blocking staying power. You have to be able to beat your own level in order to share it, which ensures you won’t put tons of time into a level before realizing you’ve been played by a trollish would-be dev.

If a huge empty grid is too intimidating, the new Challenge Mode gives players Nintendo-set design parameters and regular chances to be voted top design dog. Still, how long can endless variations on “use five red bricks, two blue bricks, and two pipes” remain interesting? Nintendo has also put out a few of their own extra levels for free, and if they keep delivering, I’ll be holding on to my copy for a while.

Mario vs. Donkey Kong Mini-Land Mayhem


If you liked the first three MvDK games, I can personally guarantee you will be a fan of this one. Lazy game reviewer’s trope? Hardly: you will like this game because it is exactly like its predecessors--save for a few minor tweaks and the addition of a vanilla cake-shaking Mini-Pauline.

While I can’t deny Nintendo’s advances in handheld fanny-mation, sequels are required to do something—anything—to push their franchise forward. This is more of the same, and no matter how much I like said same, Mini-Land Mayhem is just a solid Mario vs. Donkey Kong 3.5.