Nintendo has remade the 2004 Game Boy game Mario vs. Donkey Kong and brought it to the Switch. The game is fun, though it could be too simple for some. With a decently hefty price tag, you’ll want to make sure it’s the kind of game you want before you buy.

The story

As with a lot of Mario games, there isn’t a whole lot of story to speak of. The premise of Mario vs. Donkey Kong is a familiar one. Somebody takes something from Mario, Mario needs to get it back. In this case, we return to the franchise’s original antagonist, Donkey Kong, stealing Mario Mini toys from Mario’s factory. (Who knew Mario was a businessman too?) When Donkey Kong takes off with a sack full of the toys, Mario gives chase to get them back.


The gameplay in Mario vs. Donkey Kong will be familiar to Mario fans. As in previous Mario games, such as the Super Mario Brother series games, you’ll work across various colorful levels in several new worlds in a side scroll setup to solve puzzles and retrieve the Mario Minis.

To get them back, you’ll play as Mario, running, jumping, crouching, swinging, pushing buttons and dodging bad guys — the layout is somewhat similar to the original Donkey Kong game from 1981, just with more bells and whistles.

Each level is a two-part puzzle. In the first part you recover a key to open a door and in the second you retrieve the Mario Mini. There are six levels per world, across eight regular worlds, with an additional level where you guide the Minis, and a face-off with Donkey Kong at the end of each world.

Players can also play in single player or local multiplayer modes.


There are two difficulty settings in Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Classic and Casual. Casual features infinite time, checkpoint flags and extra hit points in the gameplay. Classic has a timer, only allows one hit per level and has no checkpoints.

Classic is easy. The combination of the extra hits, the checkpoints and all the time in the world make the game a breeze. But even Classic mode is not terribly difficult. The controls are easy to master. The learning curve is gentle. As you progress through the words, the levels do grow in difficulty, but they can get a bit repetitive. There are a few decent challenges spread here and there throughout, but nothing too hard.

In both modes, the controls are straightforward and easy to master.

Age rating

ESRB has the game rated E for Everyone. Casual mode is easy enough that fairly young children could handle it. Exactly what age would be up to parents’ discretion.

And I would say the average 8- to 10-year-old familiar with video games could figure out Classic mode.

Is Mario vs. Donkey Kong worth your time and money?

That depends. 

Mario vs. Donkey Kong is by no means a masterpiece. It’s not an instant classic like Super Mario 64 or game of the year runner-up like Super Mario Odyssey either. If it’s those kinds of games you are looking for, this probably isn’t the one for you. But that’s not what this game is trying to be.

Mario vs. Donkey Kong is a Game Boy remake, and it feels like an era-appropriate Game Boy game. It’s a side scrolling, puzzle solving challenge and it doesn’t feel like it is trying to be anything else. It’s got hours worth of classic Mario fare, hunting for goodies and bopping baddies, and there are some fun hidden surprises and bonus levels. But that’s about it.

If you are looking for an entertaining, if not completely challenging, couple of hours of gameplay then this will work for you. Or if you are looking for something your kids can handle and play for a while, this will work too.

But with a price tag of $49.99, you’ll want to make sure it’s the right fit and you really want it.

Mario vs. Donkey Kong trailer

You can watch the trailer for the game here: