Posted: February 24th, 2005
By: Webmaster-Josh
Mario vs. Donkey Kong is the newest GBA game from Nintendo's USA
development studio. Does the game deliver platform fun like we know and love?
Control

This isn't as simple as the game looks. A is jump, B is pick up. B also throws items in a direction corresponding to the
Control Pad button that is pressed. When you jump, you will also grab onto things automatically, but that never hinders
movement. Pressing up while falling or jumping can get you on a tightrope in later levels. Then, you can hold up on a
tightrope to flip to higher areas. There are also some other maneuvers you must perform, but are too advanced to
describe. Luckily, at the beginning of every level, there is a short clip that introduces a move or technique.
Pressing L and R at the same time brings up a pause, so you can scroll through the entire level in any direction. This gets
past the small screen problem, and so you can plan ahead. That was a good feature, and a good move by Nintendo. The
game interface is also pretty good, except that if you exit a level, you'll lose a life. Like many games these days, losing a
life doesn't really do anything. The whole goal of each level is to get a key, and then get a Mario toy. Performing so many
moves can be fun, but it doesn't come flawless.
Jumping and throwing objects is required early in the game, and it can be difficult to master. It's also hard to judge
platforms and distance sometimes. It's also a bit messed up that when you step off a switch, it seems to propel Mario a
little, and if the switch was by an edge, you might fall off. The game still has a classic feel, and the controls in these areas
are more of a property of platform games. Overall, it feels pretty polished, and with only minor flaws, it's definitely good.
Graphics

The game has a graphics engine that renders Mario 3D, and it shows. The
level designs and backgrounds are 2D, but anything moving is animated
in 3D. It also has great resolution, and doesn't suffer from framerate
issues. The camera moves well with the action, too.
There are also a few movies, although it's more like a bunch of
high-resoluted images moving together to almost animate. The attempt
is still admirable, and they still look good. There are also some extra
stuff like the menus and minigames that are all rendered in 3D
animation and style. It's very good for GBA, and the score for graphics
only falls for some lack of variety with the artwork, but this is a beauty.
Replay

Mario vs. Donkey Kong spans six worlds, with six levels per world plus a DK boss level and before that a Mario toy
collecting level. Each level takes about 5 minutes to do. That makes the game about 4 hours long. However, some levels
will take some thinking, which accounts for more time. You can also go back and try to get all the presents, and even set a
high score.
Once you've done all that, which is about 10 hours, there's not much to do. If you really enjoy the game that much, you
could always keep playing the levels again, and playing the extra levels, if you unlock them. There is no multiplayer, and
no other modes. This game may excel in originality and graphics, but there's still something developers need to do to
increase the game time. It just seems that this one misses it by a lot. The challenges can only last so long. The good thing
is that there are nearly 50 levels, which is a lot by any measure. And the extra levels will last a  sbit longer. You can also
view movies again, but not enough can save thelightly low replay. It's good for a GBA game, but not close to an excellent
amount.
Design

Nintendo makes a brave attempt at bringing back the platform genre in an all-new game. The good thing is that you don't
have to worry-they got it right! This game is a lot of fun. The idea of compacted levels of platforms and enemies is
incredible. It makes the levels very well sized, and everything is perfected to make a great experience. Levels were made
to a near utmost creativity. I just couldn't believe some of the puzzles they thought of.
This is a game that requires you to think. Even revisiting levels may be so hard that you'll still have to recall what to do.
The ingenuity is unsurpassed in this genre, besides the older games which are amazing. The whole goal is to get the key to
the door, along with yourself. The key may sometimes need to be dropped to move it along. After being idle for 12 seconds,
it will revert to its original spot in the level. This creates a little more skill on your part, so that the key won't disappear.
After that, you will enter the second part if the level, where you simply need to get to the Mario toy. Because the task is
simpler, this part of the level is usually bigger and harder. And collecting the three presents brings a new challenge, as
some of these colored gifts can be hard to reach. It all adds to a stunning game, that doesn't suffer too much without
multiplayer or a load of other features. And that's saying something. Simply put, this game is fun! It's original, and
creative, and possibly a genre that has even more potential now.
Scores
Control

8.5
Graphics

9.0
Replay

7.5
Design

9.3
8.5
Final Words

This is one of the most fun GBA games of 2004, and the score shows. This truly is a game that has to be at least played.
Although it may be a bit short, if you like it a lot, then you'll really find this a worthwhile purchase. The lack of
multiplayer is made up for in the amazing single-player. It's not the best on GBA, but a sequel would be nice and will
hopefully perfect this new series a little.
Sound

8.2
Nintendo Reviews Rating:
Age 7+
Sound

This is probably the GBA game with the most speech...or should I say repeated speech. Charles Martinent does a great job
capturing the spirit of Mario's character, as always. However, like recent Mario games, the samples will be heard several
times. It also seems more redundant than in other games, but it is nice to hear variety and to see the effort Nintendo put
to include this. Donkey Kong also sports familiar grunts and growls, but these can get almost obnoxious.
The music is almost all new, with a few twists of old songs. The menu theme is a mix of Mario and Donkey Kong Country,
which is fresh to hear. A few samples are a bit overused, but most are great to hear. They really capture the cute mood
that the game has, and also the powerful tunes for boss fights and dangerous areas. This is also very good for GBA music,
but not the best.
What can get annoying is the volume. This game seems loud. Sure, you can turn it down, but that doesn't take away the
loud feeling. The sound effects just kind of explode in your ears, as with Mario's voice. The clash of both can really get
unbearable at times. After playing several times, you'll get accustomed to hearing it. What is good is the extra effort with
the voices, the variety of sound effects and the quality of music. It all adds up to a decent sound package. Mixing in Stereo
sound was a great move, and adds even more to the experience. It's not amazing, but still satisfactory.