Donkey Kong stealing Mario dolls, unleashing his fury to destroy Mario... so does Donkey Kong love Mario or hate him?
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I'm Gaming Jay: Youtube gamer, let's player, retrogaming fan, and determined optimist... Join me in this series while I try out EVERY game in the book 1001 VIDEO GAMES YOU MUST PLAY BEFORE YOU DIE, before I die. The game review for each game will focus on the question of whether you MUST play this game before you die. But to be honest, the game reviews are just for fun, this series is more about the YouTube gamer journey. Let's try out those classic retro games we grew up with, have fond memories of, or heard of but never got a chance to try! And with that said, the game review for today is...
Mario vs. Donkey Kong
Developer(s) Nintendo Software Technology
Platform(s) Game Boy Advance
Genre(s) Platformer, Puzzle
Does Donkey Kong actually hate Mario or like him? This game confuses the issue a little because the plot revolves around Donkey Kong desperately wanting to own all the little Mario dolls that are being produced, and hence going out and stealing them all. Mario is therefore forced to confront his old foe to get his merchandise back. So yeah... not too sure what to make of that.
In terms of gameplay, Mario vs. Donkey Kong is a successor to the original Donkey Kong game, and so it shares many more gameplay elements with that game than with modern Mario games. This means that instead of roaming through vast levels and worlds, each stage is really a small, self-contained arena. There are puzzles to solve, keys to get, doors to unlock, and enemies to defeat for sure, but this isn't like your typical Mario game where you'll be really exploring large worlds.
Another important gameplay change here from typical Mario games is that your jumping works completely differently than it does in any of the other Super Mario Bros. games. You can stand on your hands and do backwards flips, and if you want to jump high you can't just run and jump, you need to do a series of hop jumps to build up to a big jump. Furthermore, like in the original Donkey Kong arcade game Mario can no longer fall from great distances. Falling from too high ends up hurting Mario and frankly, this is my least favorite mechanic. I can get used to the funky jump mechanics, and the feeling that Mario is a little handicapped in this game in that his default jump feels very weak, but years and years of playing other Mario games have trained me to ignore the distance of falls, as Mario is immune to fall damage. In this game however, that's not the case, and I found myself accidentally falling from great distances a number of times not because I couldn't avoid the fall but because my brain just didn't remember to avoid the fall.
Criticisms aside, as far as platformer puzzle games go this game is decent. There is an interesting variety of enemies and mechanics, and the levels are varied and keep you on your toes. I ultimately can't fully recommend this game too far as it kind of feels like a game that should've existed in the 80's or early 90's, and its core gameplay thus feels dated. However, if you do enjoy puzzle platformers you may want to try it anyway, as if you like those kinds of games, I don't think you'd be disappointed.
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