Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move Preview

By Jared Scott on March 11, 2013, 3:36PM EDT

I've become rather fond of Nintendo Direct and its bimonthly announcements. In fact, it was last month's video that inspired me to write my last impressions article about Pokémon X and Y. So far, they have given me a reason to want a Wii U and have made me proud to be a 3DS owner.

This last Nintendo Direct video in particular has me ecstatic for Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move. After studying the trailer for Minis on the Move, I believe that the game will not only make great changes to the series, but keep the elements that made it a blast to play.

The immediate difference I noticed is that the game is no longer 2D but 3D. Hurray for basics! The environments look like they were taken straight from Mario 3D Land. The puzzles take place in the middle of the screen surrounded by backgrounds of various Mario locations. The bottom screen will have a 2D map of each level.

Instead of stretching beams or placing pink blocks, you'll be placing square platforms with directional patterns on them. The minis will then walk on the platform following the pattern's direction. The platforms in your stock are on the same screen as the 2D map. As far as a goal is concerned, you guide your minis to a gold star.

Just as with the previous games, you can create your own custom levels. Hopefully this will lead to more contests and downloadable levels like we have seen before.

The video claims that there are multiple puzzle modes and various mini games. One mini game has you launch a mini via sling shot towards a large cube made of smaller ones. If you hit the black ball in the square, smaller blocks fall off. There's another one with the sling shot where you hit those creepy shy-guys and piranha plants painted on targets as well as coins. One other mini game has your mini standing on a platform with a knob that twists to make the platform rise and fall to avoid bullets as you acquire floating coins.

While the game looks good, there were some elements from the game I noticed missing. One of them was that the gold star replaces the locked door. Unless more prerequisites are added later to the levels, it looks like finding the key to unlock the exit will no longer be a part of the game. While not a bad change, the key and door have been in every game since the GBA installment. I also did not see any of the bonus cards used to spell Mario's name; but since only a few levels were shown, I believe that they will make a comeback.

I mentioned earlier about competitions for who can create the best level. Even if no official competitions are announced, it would be nice to see a community of fans continue to make levels. With SpotPass and StreetPass, it would be a convenient way to receive fan-made levels. I would like to see the ability for people who own the game to create their own contests as well.

With downloadable content becoming a larger part of the 3DS market, seeing season based levels would be welcoming. In fact, why not place new levels, puzzle pieces, props, and backgrounds in DLC packs to keep things fresh? It would be interesting to see levels with a goal such as "Help Mini Mario Deliver Santa's Gifts" as you lead him to a pipe dressed as a chimney. Perhaps we could get some mini Boos to chase us as we race to the pumpkin pipe.

I hope that there will also be more mini games than the ones that were shown. While they looked fun, two of them were not only similar, but barely different from the sling shot mini game in Super Mario 64 DS.
The video did promise more puzzle modes, but I'm a bit concerned that they just referred to the mini games and customize level features. Nothing was really shown that was different to the gameplay puzzle-wise. Perhaps it relates to playing with the DK minis instead of fighting them.

I really am excited for Minis on the Move. I may say that about a lot of games (ask any of the staff), but this latest entry appears to be a worthy successor to a great puzzle franchise. Only time will tell if it lives up to expectations, but until then I look forward to guiding the minis on a quest to save another of Mario's lady friends.

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