Mario vs. Donkey Kong was released for the Game Boy Advance in 2004. It’s a platform-based puzzle game, combining elements from the Mario and Donkey Kong series.
You control a very agile Mario who is capable of a wide variety of moves and tricks and each stage scrolls horizontally and vertically, depending on the layout of the level. Some levels are quite small and simple and others are larger and more complex. There are ladders, ropes, elevators, switches, spikes, bars, and conveyor belts (and more), all of which are arranged in such a way as to give you a bit of a challenge negotiating them.
There are four basic objectives in the game. The first, and most common, is that Mario must find a key and use it to open a door. The second is that Mario must lead a group of mini Marios to a toy box while protecting them from hazards. The third is a boss battle with Donkey Kong, and the fourth is a “Plus Level” where you have to activate another mini Mario. There’s also a fifth tier “Expert” objective, but this is only unlocked after beating all six of the available worlds at least once.
Each world is themed and comes with eight different stages, and some stages are even split into different parts. Completing (and unlocking) everything the game has to offer takes time.
Graphically, the backgrounds are clear and well-designed, but the real star of the game is the Mario sprite, which has fantastic animation. Mario is a joy to control in this game.
Mario vs. Donkey Kong also uses familiar sound effects from the original Donkey Kong arcade game, which is comforting and nostalgic (younger players probably won’t even notice).
Mario vs. Donkey Kong really is a wonderful platform/puzzler. Shigeru Miyamoto was a Producer on this game, so that should probably come as no surprise.