Review: Mario VS Donkey Kong - The Old Rivalry Returns

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After 20 years, Mario vs Donkey Kong returns in a new version for the Nintendo Switch. With new mechanics and worlds, the game promises to entertain older fans and conquer new players!

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A worthy Remake for the Fans!

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After 20 years of its release for GameBoy Advance, Mario vs Donkey Kong received a wholly new version for the Nintendo Switch. With updated graphics, new mechanics and new worlds, the game promises to entertain older fans of the franchise and win the hearts of new players.

Released on February 16, the game tells a simple story, identical to the 2004 original: Donkey Kong, after seeing a commercial for Mario toys, runs to the store to buy one, but they are all out of stock. Angry, he goes to the factory and steals all the mini-Mario made. From there, we continue with Mario, chasing DK and recovering all the stolen mini-Mario.


All information, images and details provided here were based on gameplay made on a Nintendo Switch.


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In Mario vs. Donkey Kong, we can jump, do a special jump by holding the analog stick down for Mario to stand upside down, hold objects, throw them forward or upwards (this will be important!), walk over enemies and even use some of them as throwing objects or platforms to avoid traps.

When controlling Mario, we must go through all eight worlds, each one has six phases where we must recover the mini-Mario, a seventh phase so that, together with the little ones, we have to get the T-O-Y letters and finally, in the eighth phase, defeat the Donkey Kong of that world.

As with all Nintendo games, the difficulty system is very well-planned. The challenges are presented progressively, teaching each game mechanic one at a time, which makes it easy for anyone to understand and learn the ways to solve the game's puzzles.

Since there are different ways of facing challenges, there is no specific method for solving a phase. In many moments, I overused the increased jump mechanic to overcome obstacles that were very high, contrary to the instructions to use an object or enemy that the game recommended using as a ladder.

Coop Mode

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A new feature in this version for the Nintendo Switch is the addition of cooperative mode. In it, we can play any phase with a second player controlling Toad. He can perform all of Mario's actions, which makes the game easier and more fun.

Classic Mode VS Casual Mode

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When creating our save and starting the game, we can select between two options: Casual Mode and Classic Mode. The main difference between the modes is that, in casual, there is no timer. This allows you to play each level with a child or even in a more relaxed run, without the pressure that the clock can cause us.

In Classic Mode, a timer will be present in the top corner of the screen, limiting the time we have to complete each stage of the level. If it resets, we lose a life and must restart from the beginning. This mode is excellent for players looking for an extra challenge or wanting to do speedruns.

The Six Phases of Rescue

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Each phase where we must recover the mini-Mario has two stages. In the first one, we just have to retrieve the key and take it to the door, so we can go to the stage where we actually find mini-Mario. In both stages of each phase, there will be gifts that we can collect, if we complete the phase with three gifts, we receive a Perfect.

After playing some of the 6 initial stages of the world, or even less on some occasions, an extra stage will be released, with a life mushroom logo appearing. In it, in Classic Mode, we must collect as many lives as possible spread throughout the level, in addition, a key will always be flying in the opposite direction to our movement.


Therefore, we must plan how we will move to be able to get this key and open the chest in the center of the screen before the timer resets. If we succeed, more lives will be won. Otherwise, we only receive the collected lives and there is no option to reset the screen.

“Oh Mario…”

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The seventh phase of each world will always be a puzzle, where we must control the mini-Mario to collect the letters of the word T-O-Y. They move based on the direction we walk with Mario and based on some objects we interact with, such as springs and jumping between platforms.

At times, we end up frustrated because they don't correspond the way we would like, but just replay the phase, and we can finish it while keeping them all alive.

Keeping all mini-Mario intact is important, as each preserved mini-Mario will grant you extra health during the battle against Donkey Kong.

“D-K! Donkey Kong!”

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The last stage of all worlds will be a battle against Donkey Kong. The fights are not always the same, but they maintain certain characteristics in all of them: Mario will have a life equivalent to the amount of mini-Mario rescued in the previous phase. DK, on the other hand, will always have 4 life points.

During combat, DK will interact with the scene, providing objects or even enemies that you must use as a weapon to hit him. For those who have already played the GBA game, you will see that nothing has been changed, apart from, of course, the two new clashes due to the worlds added in this version for Nintendo Switch.

Original Vs Remake

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The remake features several improvements over the original. Although the control mechanics are identical, which may make some players feel Mario is a little more stuck and slow, as his jumping is more limited (especially for those who played Super Mario Wonder), it is still very well executed and matches with the challenges that the game proposes to offer.

The game's cinematic was completely redone in 3D and animated, giving the beginning of the game a beautiful opening and introduction to what we can expect.

In addition to the six worlds already known from the 2004 version, two new worlds were introduced: Merry Mini-Land (World 4) and Slippery Summit (World 6). In them, there are new mechanics presented to overcome puzzles such as air currents and slippery floors.

The mini-games at the end of each phase, where we used the collected gifts, were removed.

Extra Content

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After finishing the game, all worlds will receive an Expert version, where they gain new challenges. In addition, the Timer Attack mode will also be enabled, further extending the game's lifespan and providing a great challenge for the most skilled players looking to overcome themselves.


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Gallery is enabled in the main menu. In it, we can check the cinematics watched during the campaign. If you forget a command, you can access the Action Guide at any time in the game to see the complete list of all the movements that Mario is capable of performing, making it easier for us to find new solutions to the puzzles in each level.


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Mario VS Donkey Kong is a game that was fun in 2004 and with its remake, it continues to be fun and delivers new features even 20 years later! With beautiful graphics like other exclusive Nintendo games, crafted with such care for passionate fans of their franchises.

The game, despite having a linear learning, provides several ways to be completed and played due to the movements that Mario is capable of making, with the addition of co-op mode, these variations increase even more!

To finish the main campaign, it took me approximately five hours, but with extra content, Time Attack mode and being able to play them all in co-op, the game's lifespan could extend to 15 to 20 hours.

Mario VS Donkey Kong is an example of respect for its predecessor, adding new features without losing its essence. I rate it 8.0/10. Be sure to try the game if you still have any questions, after all, a demo version is available to be played at any time through Nintendo's digital store!

Did you like the review? Comment what you expect from this game or if you are already playing it! Also check out our review on one of the latest releases: Tomb Raider I-II-III Remastered!link outside website