Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem! (JP) is a Nintendo DS video game and the fourth game in the Mario vs. Donkey Kong series. Developed by Nintendo Software Technology and published by Nintendo, Mini-land Mayhem! stars Mario, Donkey Kong, and various other characters from the Mario series including Pauline, the woman who Mario had saved in the original Donkey Kong for arcades. The Mini Marios from the previous games return once again, as does the Mini-land location. The base gameplay and objectives of this game are mostly the same as in previous titles, being centered on bringing all the Mini toys safely to the goal in each level. However, the gameplay is now focused on tracing paths and bridges for the Minis to use, more so than simply toggling blocks and buttons to determine their path as in previous games. Most future titles in the series, such as Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars and Mini Mario & Friends: amiibo Challenge, would continue to follow this construction-based gimmick. Mini Pauline toys make their debut with this game, joining the cast of Minis. They are the highlight of Mario's new theme park, despite them appearing late in the game as playable characters. Alongside the main game, a level editor is also present in a mode called the Construction Zone, where players can design their own levels. A significant feature of the game was its Wi-Fi compatibility, using the same system as in Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis. Every two weeks, Nintendo held challenge contests where the player could submit a level that was subsequently judged by other players, with the top-rated level being announced as a winner candidate at the end of a contest.
Video game critics described the game as being very similar to Lemmings. In each stage the player must guide miniature toy versions of the game's main characters including Mario, Toad and others. A Super Guide, similar to the one that initially appeared in New Super Mario Bros. Wii and was included in other games such as Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Donkey Kong Country Returns, is present in this title, making it the first non-platformer to use it. There are eight worlds in the main story in addition to a ninth "S" (or special) world titled Rainbow Summit, and tenth "X" (or expert) world titled Secret Storage. In the game, the player is tasked with controlling a mini toy using the stylus to control them. If one Mini is hit by an enemy or hazard, it will shatter, and the level will result in a Game Over. The goal is to get all of the Minis to the door simultaneously one after another once the first enters the door. If a mini cannot reach the door in time, the door will close and the stage will be lost. On plus mode, minis are required to enter the door in a specific order, which is stated at the start when beginning.
Mario is sponsoring, with his guest Pauline, the great opening of the Minilandia amusement park with the announcement that the first hundred customers would receive a toy Mini-Pauline. Unfortunately, being the 100th person to enter the park, Donkey Kong will not be able to receive the Mini-Pauline. Infuriated, Donkey Kong takes the true Pauline. And Mario, with his Mini-Mario, takes a train to save her. Mario and the toys will have to beat Donkey Kong so that Mario can save Pauline. Donkey Kong is "defeated" at the end, where Mario gives him a Mini-Pauline and Donkey Kong is happy to receive it. At the end each of the characters in the game climbs on the wheel and exit the tail titles.
Mario, one of the titular characters, only plays a role in the story cutscenes. In cutscenes that play between attractions, he is seen chasing Donkey Kong and Pauline in a locomotive, the Super Mini Mario Express, where he is accompanied by a few Minis. After dropping at a station, Mario demonstrates the elements of the new attraction with the Minis. Meanwhile, Pauline cries for help in Donkey Kong's arms. Aside from cutscenes, Donkey Kong also appears in boss levels, where he is fought. Pauline is always kept beside him, where she watches the actions of the Minis as they unravel. Toads appear as visitors of Mario's newly opened theme park, but they are only figurant characters.
Only the Minis are directly used in gameplay, the help of which Mario uses to rescue Pauline. Although they are miniature versions of various characters from the Mario series, Minis do not act differently from each other. Being automated clockwork toys, they simply walk from side to side and are likewise able to jump over blocks to continue their march. However, they turn around when encountering a wall of two or more blocks, a tight entrance, or a conveyor belt going in the opposite direction. They are destroyed on contact with obstacles such as Spikes, Shy Guys, Pokeys, and Thwomps, but can fight back with a pair of Hammers or a Slope Slide.
Critical reception of Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem! was positive, and the game was repeatedly stated to offer an entertaining experience delivered with an appealing presentation. It currently has a score of 79% based on 51 reviews on Metacritic, as well as an 80.08% score on GameRankings.
Daemon Hatfield of IGN "[could not] stress enough that [the game] is pure joy to play", stating that the variety of collectables brings a significant contribution to the game's replay value. He also described the game as "absolutely adorable," and the puzzles as "satisfying to work out" despite not being particularly difficult. However, he added that a speed-up option would have been beneficial for gameplay, as he found the movement of the Minis to be rather sluggish, especially in earlier levels.
Philip J. Reed of Nintendo Life debuted his review by describing the game as "stellar" and "an excellent place to start" for those unfamiliar with the Mario vs. Donkey Kong series. He noted that part of the fun stems from the game's spirit of discovery, which properly defines the levels from a design standpoint. He made mention of the game's level editor, describing it as simple to grasp, and further noted the ability to share and download custom levels, which he praised for greatly extending the game's replayability. The graphics were said to compose a "sweet, sunny atmosphere," and the cutscenes as well as soundtrack were also complimented.
Nathan Meunier of GameSpot referred to the game's story as "bare-bones" and "esentially the same plot" as in the past games, but favored the gameplay of Mini-Land Mayhem! over other titles in the series. In this regard, he appreciated the game's concept of building the environment for the Minis, instead of simply toggling blocks and other features to form their way as in the past games.
- Hatfield, Daemon (November 12, 2010). Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-land Mayhem Review. IGN. Retrieved April 13, 2018.
- Reed, Philip J (December 19, 2010). Review: Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem! (DS). Nintendo Life. Retrieved April 13, 2018.
- Meunier, Nathan (November 12, 2010). Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem Review. GameSpot. Retrieved April 13, 2018.
- Official North American Website
- Official North American Gamepage
- Official Japanese Website
- Official Australian Website
- Official European Website
- PDF instruction booklet on Nintendo's website