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Mario vs.
Donkey Kong

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Play OverviewPlay Overview

Mario vs. Donkey Kong (2004) is a series of puzzle games where you guide miniature Nintendo characters to the end of the level. The twist is that you must manipulate the level by adding and removing platforms to reach the goal. The exact interactions vary from game to game, but each one is an unusual departure from the Mario formula that's more reliant on finding clever solutions to each challenge than platforming skill.

The latest game, on Nintendo Switch, is a remake of the original game that adds extra levels but keeps the gameplay and minimal story, which follows Mario as he reclaims toys from Donkey Kong, the same. In each level, you play Mario and run and jump around small 2D environments, and try and get the key to unlock the door to the next section, then collect a toy to complete the level. This is complicated by blocks you introduce and remove from the level by jumping on buttons to create your path, and toy enemies you must avoid.

There are also special levels where you guide small toy version of Mario through the stage to collect letters in a Lemmings-style mechanic, and must figure out a way to move them around as they follow you. As you progress, the levels get harder, and there are also things to collect that give you a better score. There's also a two-player mode, where you work together to complete the stages.

The result is a game that offers a more thoughtful and methodical game than the typical fact-paced running and jumping Mario affair, with levels that offer small yet still worthwhile challenges that make for a satisfying puzzle adventure.

There have been eight games in the series thus far, each with its own twist on the puzzle platformer formula:
  • Donkey Kong (1994) Game Boy - Platform game that inspired the series.
  • Mario vs. Donkey Kong (2004) Game Boy Advance - Platforming and Lemmings style play
  • Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis! (2006) DS - Lemmings style play
  • Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again! (2009) DS - Lemmings style play and level designer
  • Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem! (2010) DS - Lemmings style play and level designer
  • Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move (2013) 3DS - Pipe Mania style play
  • Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars (2015) Wii U and 3DS - Lemmings style play and level designer
  • Mini Mario & Friends: amiibo Challenge (2016) Wii U and 3DS - Lemmings style play and level designer
  • Mario vs. Donkey Kong (2024) Switch - A remake of the Game Boy Advance original with extra levels

Our examiner, Andy Robertson, first checked Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2 years ago. It was re-examined by Ben Kendall and updated 4 months ago.
There are lots of games similar to Mario vs. Donkey Kong (Series). Here are some we picked for you:

Play StylePlay Style

This is a Brain Game and Platform game with Puzzle elements. You can play with 1 to 2 players in the same room, but you can’t play it online. You can play cooperatively with a friend in the Switch game, working together to figure out the solutions to each level. This can be useful for allowing younger players to be helped along by parents or older siblings If you do play with another person, you have to get an extra key to clear a stage, and you also can't disable the time limit, which you can do in single player, although the time limit is fairly generous.

You can play this game in the following styles:


Play Time: This game will take between 5 hours and 7 hours to complete. The time to beat each game varies from one or two hours up to six or seven for the latest game.

Age RatingsAge Ratings

Content Rating

Rated PEGI 3.

In the US, ESRB state: As players traverse whimsical environments, they can defeat enemies by jumping on their heads or throwing objects (e.g., trash cans, barrels) at them. In a boss battle sequence, players must dodge falling objects while using barrels to hit Donkey Kong; damage is indicated by depleting hit points, smoke, and cracked glass.

Skill Level

5+ year-olds usually have the required skill to enjoy this game. Younger players need good planning skills and be prepared to try again in their plans don't work. The simple premise and indirect control make this a good first platform or traversal game for youngsters, and the cooperative play can further reduce the skill barrier.


You can only play this on older systems (Nintendo 2DS|3DS, Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii U) but can usually find it second hand on eBay. There are no additional in-game purchases, loot boxes, adverts or subscription costs.
While the most recent game, Mini Mario & Friends: amiibo challenge, is free, to beat certain levels, you need to have certain amiibo (Mario, Peach etc.) and to beat all levels you need 11 specific amiibo.

While 12 levels can be beaten with any amiibo, you play as Mini Spek, who has no abilities other than the basic jump. 

DetailsGame Details

Release Date: 24/05/2004, updated in 2024

Out Now: 3DS and 2DS, DS and Wii U

Skill Rating: 5+ year-olds

Players: 1-2

Genres: Brain Game, Platform and Puzzle

Accessibility: 24 features

Components: 2D Side-On and Pixels

Developer: Nintendo (@Nintendo)

Taming Gaming Book Written by parents for parents, the database complements the in-depth discussion about video game addiction, violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. We are an editorially independent, free resource without adverts that is supported by partnerships.

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