Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2 (DS) review

My first impression about MvDK2 was that it was simply a mediocre to slightly sub-mediocre game. Which was disappointing, because MvDK1 was a fun little game – not without its own quirks, but still fun. My final impression of the game, however, was very different.

MvDK1 was fun in that you were presented with little puzzles – get mario to location X, with key in hand. However, to get into the exit, the red switch needs to be pressed. And to get to the red switch, you need to be on this platform… Etc. Fun and brain-teasery ensues.

MvDK2 is a different beast entirely. In it, you use a stylus to urge little mario minis (wind-up toys it seems) on towards the exit. You would think fun ensues, but frustration rapidly sets in as the stylus-based controls are too clumsy to pull off the manuevers necessary to save the mini marios. The stylus not only controls the environment, but the minis themselves – "tap" them and they stop, drag across them and they start walking or change direction.

The head-scratcher levels from the predecessor are gone. You can pretty much figure out what you need to do immediately, it's just doing it that's the problem. For instance, let's say you have three minis walking in a line, and you want to stop them. Tap the first one, he stops. The second one bounces into him, starting him up again and turning the second one around. Maybe by then you've tapped the second one too, so now the third one bounces into him. What is a simple concept is maddening to actually implement.

But, that being sais, it was a fun enough diversion while on my way to or from work. Until I got to the end.

******** SPOILER ALERT *********

Do NOT read any further unless you want to know what is at the end of the game, which is a pleasant surprise!


It is: a very accurate remake of the first level of the original Donkey Kong. Down to the barrels, the oil can near the end that sets them on fire, DK himself hanging out on top. It’s pretty neat.

Or so you would think. I got here, and I had only six minis – I had barely made it through the previous mini-boss and must’ve only saved six minis. First, just like the original Donkey Kong, you can’t tell which direction barrels or fire things are going to go. Trying to jump over them is hard, but doable, sometimes. Unless you try and jump over them when you’re near a ladder, at which point you can’t be sure whether your mini will try and go up the ladder, or jump. And when you’re getting _off_ a ladder, if you gesture to tell your mini which way to go too early, it won’t “take”. Too late, and you’re dead. At random times, for no discernable reason at all, whatsoever, a second mini will pop out. You’re certain to lose the second one (or first, one of ’em for sure) because they need to be carefully directed to survive much longer than a few seconds. I have not been able to figure out what makes the minis pop out – it may be some kind of timing thing, but you can’t tell. Basically, your ability to make it through this is nearly completeley dependant upon luck. There are also the little hammers you can get – where you can destroy everything around you. By doing a ‘jump’ you toss the hammer up, and can continue to move up and down (without the hammer you can climb ladders). However, again, you can’t be certain if you will pick up the hammers at the top of the ladder or not. Not that you will actually want to. So, basically, your ability to get through this level depends almost completely on luck. Nothing more. So I figured – shit, I better re-do the previous level, so I can get through with more minis! I did it this time saving around 10. And it doesn’t matter, I still get 6 minis.

This level got me so psychotically angry that I was seriously considering throwing my DS into the subway, or smashing it to bits. I had to stop playing the game, mid-level, to keep from breaking something. I truly feel that the developers of this terrible abortion of a so-called game should be dragged out of their homes and killed. Their innards should be strewn about their neighborhoods, and other developers should be told their stories to prevent them from making the same mistakes. I may not even finish this game – and I _always_ beat _every_ game. It’s that annoying, and un-fun.

Now, the funny thing here is that 2 other people who played the game think it’s lots of fun, and really like it. But they’re not real people. They’re not hardcore video game nerds like me. So take my words with a grain of salt, and their recomendation with several tons of salt.

I suppose I’ll get philosophical – I believe the failure in the game is that you’re not in complete control of the minis – the sloppy stylus-only control scheme ensures that. I think the game would actually be better if you could _not_ control the minis at all. Then if the game were oriented to where the minis just go and run around on their own (a la Lemmings), you could focus on setting things up for them.

Anyways, most Mario-style games are designed to be fun for beginners and experts, young and old. This one is not. I want those developers dead. DEAD, I tell you – DEAD!

One thought on “Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2 (DS) review”

  1. Hrm sounds a little “gimmicky” to me,
    maybe try that other portable system you own?
    a little mgs:po?

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