Mario vs Donkey Kong has always interested me, but it was never a big series for Nintendo so I tended to ignore it. It had been a handheld only series until now. With the release of Tipping Stars on the Wii U, I decided to finally give the series a shot. As it turns out, it was exactly what I had been expecting.
Donkey Kong steals Pauline and runs away. Mario, of course, gives chase. Wait, what? Who is Pauline? I know who Peach and Daisy are, but Pauline? As it turns out, Pauline was the first female to have Mario try to save her. She appeared in the original Donkey Kong game. That makes a lot more sense, but it doesn’t explain why we are not given much else to the story, though.
The “worst” content in this game is that your little Mario, Luigi, Peach, Pauline, or Toadstool wind-up toys can fall in spikes, get crushed by walls, or be burnt by fire. There is not any crazy death animations as the toys simply fall off your screen which also quickly turns to black. I can easily say that all ages can play this game.
This section is going to make little sense to people who have not played a previous title in the series and read the story of this particular game. Let me try and break this down. Mario vs Donkey Kong is a series that has you controlling miniature wind-up toy versions of Mario, Luigi, Peach, Pauline, and Toadstool as they try to reach their goal.
Well, you don’t really control the toys directly. Instead, they move on their own and along the way you are clearing a safe path for them. This involves making bridges, controlling conveyor belts, moving jump pads, and having a toy acquire the hammer power up to knock over foes so that they can progress.
If any of that sounds simple to you then just know that it isn’t. A bit of strategy is involved that will have you staring at the map’s layout before starting to get a good idea of how you want to accomplish your task at hand. But of course, like all well-laid out plans things tend to go awry. You end up having to change your plan on the go, which actually had me frantically scrambling to keep my toys safe.
Inevitably, you will end up failing which in turn will have you re-planning out how to guide the toys to safety. I must add that it is not always as simple as getting from point A to point B. If you do that then you will only acquire a bronze trophy for each level. Who wants a weak bronze medal? Go gold or go home! To get the gold trophy for each level, you will need to collect every collectible on screen along with moving quickly to point B. Mario vs Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars becomes a game of getting through the scenic route as fast as possible.
I must add how there is quite a bit of content here as well. You have the typical eight worlds of any Mario game along with eight levels in all of those worlds. However, the more levels you complete the more bonus levels you unlock and there are three bonus worlds. All in all you have eleven worlds which equates to a lofty total of eighty-eight levels! Unfortunately, each level only takes a few minutes to get through.
Besides the main game comes what brings, in my personal opinion, the best part is the Workshop. The Workshop allows you to make your own custom Mario vs Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars levels. You can create up to fifty levels before having to delete any due to space. There are also quite a few unlockables in Workshop mode that allow you to do some crazy cool level designs, including an all gold level with a gold Mario to boot!
But what is the fun of creating the levels if there is no one to share them with? As it turns out you can share your custom levels online! You can also download other people’s custom levels. This makes the replayability factor go through the roof as some of the custom levels will really have you thinking.
Mario vs Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars will do nothing to wow you with its graphics, aethestics, or soundtrack. Everything here is passable for a twenty dollar game on the Wii U and 3DS. While the title does indeed look better on the Wii U due to a larger screen and being in HD, neither system will impress you as the game was designed to run on both.
I must add something awesome that Nintendo did here. If twenty dollars seems steep to you then consider this one important factor. When you purchase the game on your Wii U or 3DS then you get a free download code for the game to use on the opposite system. So purchasing it on Wii U gives you a code for the 3DS and vice versa.
All in all, Mario vs Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars is a solid game that will allow those with an affinity for strategy and creativity to have a grand ol’ time. For normal, everyday gamers this title will provide some fun but will be overshadowed soon with bigger titles coming soon to the Wii U.
The Bottom Line