This Mario puzzler is one sweet handheld gem
Format: DS Dev: Nintendo Pub: Nintendo Out: 04/02/11 Players: 1-2
Though these days they’re more commonly spotted playing Golf or Football together, Mario and Donkey Kong have been able to reignite what is arguably gaming’s oldest rivalry in the form of a fun, engaging puzzler for the DS.
With the stylus, you control the construction of levels to guide mindless, forward walking Mario action figures past a plethora of pitfalls and enemies to reach the end door. Once the figures start moving they are unable to stop so you have to use your finely tuned video game cunning to construct a safe path with limited resources at your disposal.
Mini-Land Mayhem starts slowly only giving you access to the girder feature of the game, allowing you to connect two nearby joints to create a bridge for the Mini-Marios to walk across. As you progress the game gives you a wider range of obstacles to avoid, and you’ll have to incorporate items like jump pads and escalator bridges to reach the door. Every world (of which there are eight, the classic Mario formula) includes a unique boss fight against the barrel throwing ape, itself highly reminiscent of the arcade classic that spawned him. You have to use the same construction skills in the normal levels to guide the figures up to Donkey Kong’s platform, avoiding the barrels he throws and traps set. These levels are easily the highlights of an already great game.
The real challenge of the game comes from the scarcity of the resources in the levels and the rush to get each part completed before your Mini-Marios reach the obstacle. Levels are delightfully frustrating as you race against the pace to create a safe path. Having to quickly retract one bridge the last Mini-Mario as finished walking across to complete a new bridge for the first is an off the top of my head example of the sort of quick decisions the game rushes you to make. This game isn’t the sit back and relax puzzler you might expect, particularly in later on. Levels are great but there is little to bring you back for more beyond getting 100 per cent on each.
So what it is the make Mini-Land Mayhem so fun? The premise is simple and easy to pick up, but is also able to incorporate fast pace, problem solving aspects that may feel more accustomed to more heavy hitting puzzlers such as Portal or Braid. This is all topped with the inevitable polish and charm of a Nintendo Mario title that makes the game hard to resist.