Lemmings DS -- that's all you need to know. Use the stylus to send mini Marios walking and hopping through a level, guiding them to the exit door. You don't have to save all the mini Mario robots, but if too many die you'll fail the level. Move blocks, manipulate conveyor belts, and control enemy robots in your attempts to guide all the mini Marios to the exit. The game features a level creation mode, and also appears to bring back Pauline. Given the fact that the game takes place in the Mushroom Kingdom, we're really not sure what the Princess will think of that, but...

-- David Dayton

At the beginning of the game, a colorful story unfolds, similar to the first Mario vs. Donkey Kong. In this iteration, the game begins with Mario and Pauline at the ribbon cutting ceremony of Super Mini Mario World, a theme park based around the mini Mario, DK, Toad, and Peach windup toys. Donkey Kong sees Pauline and falls in love with her. He tries to give her his Mini-Donkey Kong toy at the same time that Mario hands his Mini-Mario toy to her. She chooses the Mini-Mario and Donkey Kong is outraged. Donkey Kong kidnaps Pauline and Mario, unable to catch them, sends the Mini-Marios to do the job.

Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2 deviates significantly from its predecessor. Whereas the previous game was an action game with puzzle elements, this game is closer to a puzzle game with action elements. Perhaps most surprisingly, players do not control Mario in Mario vs. DK 2. In fact players don't exactly control any character directly, instead using a point-and-click interface to interact with the environment and Mini-Marios. The game is quite similar to Lemmings in that you must guide the mindless Mini-Marios to the goal. Unlike Lemmings, the Mini-Marios start from various locations on the screen, can be stopped, and aren't assigned different duties. There are several, but not a huge number on screen at once.

Gameplay takes place on the lower screen, while the upper screen holds information. View of the level can be shifted by touching yellow arrows near the border of the screen. Mini-Marios are directed by touching them with the stylus and dragging in the direction of desired movement. They can be directed to jump with an upward motion. Various objects on the screen can be touched, such as switches. Additionally, pink walls and floors can be "sucked" up by the stylus and redeposited in other locations denoted by dotted pink lines. Mini-Marios must avoid hazards like spikes and fire-spitting Piranha Plants. Enemies from other Mario games also make an appearance, such as Shy Guys. The Mini-Marios can wield a pair of hammers, which act like the hammer found in the original Donkey Kong. Other Mini characters, such as Mini-DK, can actually help the Mini-Marios on their journey by putting their toy functionality to use.

The E3 demo featured three worlds, with several levels in each world. At the end of each world, a battle is fought with Donkey Kong. These battles involve shooting Mini-Marios out of a cannon in order to attack Donkey Kong. Sometimes DK is attacked directly, and other times, the Mini-Marios must knock over other items, which then fall onto Donkey Kong and deal damage.

The art style of the game is significantly improved over its predecessor. Gone are the poorly rescaled prerendered images, and colorful outlined cel-shaded sprites make up most of the graphics. The backgrounds are somewhat reminiscent of Yoshi's Story, and the overall the game appears polished.

Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2 promises to be a fun little puzzle game, though those looking for a direct gameplay sequel to Mario vs. Donkey Kong will be disappointed. Since it is not an action game, the game's pace is not particularly fast, though managing several Mini-Marios on the screen at once is likely to become frantic in later levels. Though not available at the show, Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2 will come with a level editor. Levels can be shared with other players through Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, adding much replay value to the game.



Stylus directions

-- Luigison



Opening sequence. Filmed by Luigison.

Video provided by Luigison and encoded by Chupperson.