Review: Mario vs Donkey Kong explained to parents

Switch 16x9 MarioVsDonkeyKong KeyArt

What parents need to know

In Mario vs. Donkey Kong, you play as the famous plumber as he has to retrieve the toys in his likeness that were stolen by a Donkey Kong angry to see the toys out of stock at the store.

Mario vs. Donkey Kong is a remake of the game of the same name released in 2004 for the Game Boy Advance. It’s also a spiritual sequel to the arcade-released Donkey Kong in 1981, which introduced Mario to the world for the first time.

It is therefore a puzzle platformer, i.e. a game that mixes the usual athletic prowess of Mario with levels requiring you to solve puzzles to complete them.

Generally, you’ll need to find the key to the level and then find a way to get it to the padlocked door to complete the level. But since Mario’s movements are more limited when he’s carrying the key (he can’t use ladders, for example), you’ll have to use some ingenuity to get there. For example, you will have to press the right combination of switches that make coloured blocks appear or disappear, transport a trampoline to the right place or reverse the direction of treadmills.

The penultimate level of each world asks players to guide the mini-marios to collect the letters TOY and then head to the toy box. These toys automatically follow you, but they have more limited capabilities, so you’ll need to think about how best to get them to their destination.

Finally, the final level of each world is a confrontation against Donkey Kong, which is reminiscent of the original arcade game. You often have to avoid the barrels he throws at you (but this time, you can throw it back in his face).


Release date: 16 February 2024
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Available on: Nintendo Switch
Available format: Physical and digital
Version tested: Nintendo Switch

Game genre: Puzzle platformer
Themes covered: Mario, Donkey Kong
Duration of a game: 1h
Duration of the main game/story: 5 to 10 a.m.
Total time to complete everything: 10h

Text languages: German, English, Simplified chinese, Traditional chinese, Korean, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese,
Voice languages: German, English, Simplified chinese, Traditional chinese, Korean, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese,

Number of local players: 2
Number of online players: -1

Level of experience required

Age 3+ 7+ 12+ 16+ 18+


We’re in the cartoonish world of Mario. The most violence you’ll see is when Donkey Kong gets hit in the head with a barrel (and again, the shock is more fun than anything else).


It can be useful to read to understand some of the instructions, but again, the explanations are also given visually for players who are not reading at a low reading level.

It’s a classic cartoon story, but this time, instead of rescuing the damsel in distress, Mario retrieves her toys.

It may take a bit of practice to fully master the controls, including more complex Mario maneuvers like the backflip, but otherwise, Mario vs. Donkey Kong really doesn’t shine with its difficulty.

The business model itself is not problematic. With purchase, you receive the full game, and no additional expenses are necessary.

However, the base price seems high to us given the limited amount of content offered in this title. That might have been acceptable for a handheld game 20 years ago, but for a home console game in 2024, you can’t help but find Nintendo a little shabby.

Local game modes

You can complete the levels of the game, solo or with two players.

Online Game Modes


Expansions/Add-ons (DLC)

None at this time.

Our opinion

The big flaw of Mario vs. Donkey Kong is its lifespan. Nintendo have added levels to the original game for this remake, but it’s still a very short game. It’s entirely possible to get it done in an evening or two if you decide to get into it.

Even if the game is a bit cheaper than a regular game ($64.99 CAD/€49.99 instead of $79.99/€59.99), it’s still a pretty high price for a game with a rather limited lifespan.

The puzzles are also very, very simple to solve for a long time. In our case, we had to wait until the 7th world before we didn’t instantly find the one-level solution. This can make the game more appealing to young players who aren’t as used to puzzle games, but for the more experienced, having to wait half of an already very short game before starting to tackle challenges can be disappointing.

However, Mario vs. Donkey Kong is not without its qualities. The title is visually successful, and the experience is made more enjoyable by the ability to complete the game with two players.

In terms of handling, it’s important to mention that you shouldn’t expect a traditional Mario game. Yes, Mario can perform some stunts, but he’s not as fluid in his movements when in a title like Super Mario Bros. Wonder. It’s all about solving the level puzzle, and we don’t want players to get around obstacles by performing spectacular stunts. Mario also can’t take out enemies by jumping on their heads. This is not a flaw in itself; It’s just a different style of play that you have to be aware of.

In summary, Mario vs. Donkey Kong didn’t charm us, as the content was quite thin for its price, and the puzzles didn’t fully satisfy us. Despite this personal opinion, the title still has the quality that we usually know from Nintendo, and should appeal to young players for whom it would be a first experience of the genre.

Note: a code has been provided to us by the publisher for critical purposes. This does not affect our rating.

Our rating : 15 / 20


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