The game that launched Nintendo into the spotlight as a major contender featured a carpenter by the name of Jumpman battled a beast named Donkey Kong for a woman named Pauline. The carpenter became a plumber, his named changed to Mario, and he and Donkey Kong have essentially had their own universes except for the occasional golf match, tennis set, kart-race, and Melee.
The greatest rivalry in the history of videogames has been renewed on Game Boy Advance in MARIO VS. DONKEY KONG. The game features many elements of the DONKEY KONG games such as the elevators, vines to climb, flaming oil barrels, and hammers.
Donkey Kong has made off with several of Mario's new mini-Mario toys, and Mario has to get them back. To do this, Nintendo's mascot must navigate 18 worlds, 12 of which must be unlocked after completing the first worlds. Each world features eight levels, six of the levels involve two parts, the first finding a key and taking it to a door, the second collecting the mini-Mario. The seventh level of each world involves leading the mini-Marios through an obstacle course while collecting letters. Finally, however many of the six mini-Marios survive represent Mario's health in a fight to the finish with Donkey Kong.
When I started playing this game I rapidly progressed through the first five worlds. But around world six the game starts to get a bit harder. This isn't really the fact that the puzzles are harder but the platforming elements are much more intense. The first few levels make the game seem like it's going to be a straight up puzzler, and by the end it is an equal mix of difficult puzzles and platforming.
Mario gets some new moves in the game as well, including a handstand that is quite useful for kicking falling objects out of the way. The back flip and triple jump also make an appearance in the game. There are plenty of MARIO 2 mechanics in the game as well the whole ability to stand on top of and pick up enemies works is huge.
That said, while the beginning six worlds might only take a few hours, getting high-scores on the levels and then opening and completing the new worlds adds a significant amount of playing time to the game.
One really nice element is that the game is very compartmentalized. Each level can be completed in a few minutes. Gamers can also save after completing each level. This makes it a great portable title to fire up while you're waiting for you order at the fast food joint, standing in line for HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN.
The graphics in the game are great. Mario hasn't looked better in a 2-D game. The characters are all well animated and the levels and backgrounds are colorful and detailed. The enemies from the different games all look good as well, some even better than in that last appearances.
Mario has been getting more talkative in the Game Boy Advance versions of the games, and this is the most yet. There are plenty of voice-clips from the plumber in red. The music is good, but nothing great, given the public nature of the GBA, you'll probably have it off most of the time.
MARIO VS. DONKEY KONG is a great buy for anyone looking for some classic Mario platforming action. While the gameplay skews a little heavily towards the puzzle side, it's worthwhile for anyone who is fan of a good game.