Mario and Donkey Kong Mini’s on the Move (3DS eShop) Review

If you have ever played Pipe Dream back in the late 80’s/early 90’s on the Mac then you should already have the basic premise for what this game is all about. Also you are either approaching middle age or have a great grip on computer game history, either way you rock!

For those who are ignorant of the game play style, it is very simple. You have one of many different Minis which are basically wind-up toy versions of the Mario gang.  Starting with Mario, he will walk along a path that must be set with a variety of different tiles provided for you. The ultimate goal is to get him to the iconic Mario green pipe at the end while gathering as many stars along the way. It sounds simple enough but it isn’t.


Tiles are stacked on the right side of the screen and must be placed on the board to guide your Mini. If more than 5 are left on the side, your stack of tiles falls over and you fail the level. The amount of tiles you have is usually very limited and many have various different quirks but don’t worry you won’t be thrown in without a little help to begin with. This is a game that will introduce you to the various aspects in a fairly direct and quick manner, you won’t be stuck in the tutorial stages for very long and one should be thankful for this design choice.

It’s a simple concept executed to near perfection. Guide your Mini using the tiles available. You are given some very basic ones at first; straight lines, corners, intersections but steadily the complexity increases. The choice of sacrificing tiles into a compactor to make one super tile that will pick the best fit between any other existing tiles is one that can become a tough decision.

How about using tiles that you can rotate as you please, it sounds handy until the problem of blocking existing paths comes into play because of this choice. Make a figure-8 in the level with your Mini in the middle and you can spawn an end point in a new location. These are the dilemmas you will face your entire time playing this title. What looks simple at first can take multiple times to actually solve the puzzle that is the best path to victory. That’s the magic of this title, everything is a trade-off between ease and reward and that’s the gaming sweet spot we all want. To make matters even more interesting is that there are four play modes on this part of the game alone, each linked to a certain character.


Mario’s levels has a set time limit for how long it takes to get Mario to the goal, take too long to setup and he will just start on his suicidal path without a second thought. Poor crazy Mario.

Peach has no time limit but you will be timed for the sake of there being a metric to measure your success.

Toad adds to the chaos as you have to direct multiple Toad’s to their goals simultaneously. This is the one that gives me headaches in terms of complexity but on the plus side all the tiles are already laid down, you just have to direct them.

And finally you have Donkey Kong which simply consists of three levels, three very big overly complicated levels where you have to collect all 10 stars throughout before you get to the goal. Finish these and you get into Mensa.

The fact that there are these variations on the concept is very interesting to say the least. Even with these additions, the whole game would tumble down if the puzzle design was lacking in challenge or if they are too obscure to solve. Luckily, Nintendo have obviously put a lot of thought and testing into what is available as this game would go down as the finest example of this genre I can think of.


Even then if you play through the puzzles and think “I could do better than that” then there is good news for you, a level editor is available to give you the ultimate sandbox to torture anyone game enough to try your creations.

These creations can be shared online and between friends and comes complete with a top puzzles of the week and other such categorisation for the large wave of content continuously flooding in; to be perfectly frank, you will never be short of puzzles on this game.

If you have had enough of the mental drain from the main challenge then you are in luck because there are additional mini games to test your skills, mainly sling shot skills but that’s a skill nonetheless. These games are basically just scoreboard games with no end goal other than to better your previous efforts.


Mini Target Smash involves you shooting Mario at various floating targets. Fly Guy Grab is essentially the same thing but with moving targets in the form of Fly Guys. Cube Crash involves you smashing a cube made up of smaller cubes in an effort to completely destroy it in as short amount of time as possible. And finally Elevation Station in which you elevate your Mini on a platform to collect coins and dodge bullet bills for as long as you can. None of these games are the most amazing experience but they are a nice added bonus on an already great game that really helps you have a small mental break at the very least.

Visually, this is a very competent game as you would expect from any in house Nintendo production and that continues to the audio aspects as well. This is nothing but the usual A grade effort as well which is not unusual when it comes to a title brandishing the Mario name. I would say more here but you can’t really improve perfection.


This is a game that set out to execute a simple game concept well and it achieves it with flying colours. If you have any issue with this title, it would be more down to personal taste in relation to puzzle games rather than any erroneous execution on Nintendo’s part. Everything about this is top notch production and considering it is priced at $13.00 AUD at the time of writing it is an absolute bargain to say the least. This is the kind of pick up and play game that every 3DS needs, something that you can jump in, play 5 minutes and then jump out and get on with your day.

This is Nintendo charm at its best and in a very tight package. Short nature puzzles, fantastic value and tremendous production value as always makes this the perfect companion on the 3DS if you are interested short bursts of gaming… on the move… I’ll get my coat.

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About The Author
Michael Verrenkamp
I'm just a humble man from Melbourne that knows a little bit about games and not much else and that's just the way he likes it.

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