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Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars Review

The Rivalry Returns To Its Roots
by Bryan Vore on Mar 04, 2015 at 05:00 PM

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Reviewed on 3DS
Also on Wii U
Publisher Nintendo
Developer Nintendo Software Technology
Rating Everyone

After 2013’s misguided Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move top-down 3D offshoot, Nintendo has decided to stop messing with the formula and return to the 2D puzzle gameplay that made this series a cult favorite. It’s been five years since players guided auto-moving toy versions of the Mario cast through levels filled with traps, and it feels good to be back.

Fans of the series will instantly recognize the look, sounds, and gadgets used in Tipping Stars. In many ways, it’s similar to Mini-Land Mayhem, with red girder platforms, purple conveyor belts, warp pipes, and jump springs. If you’ve just played the previous 2D entry, it might not feel as fresh, but the controls are tight, puzzles creative, and difficulty curve fair. I had fun getting back into the swing of things on new levels.

The most notable update is the new Cursed Mini Mario that appears at the end of every world. This dark toy is controlled by an evil robo monkey and roams around the map looking to smash your other toys. It’s interesting to figure out how to trap him and have another toy smash off the parasite with a classic DK mallet. This stage type replaces the uneven and sometimes jarring boss battles of previous entries, and fits more naturally into the puzzle flow of the game. The disposable minigames seen in past entries are also nowhere to be found.

The title of the game comes from the expanded online level creation system and social features. If you make a cool level and others enjoy it, they can “tip” you star currency, which you can spend on creation upgrades and cosmetic tweaks. Players earn Miiverse stamps for giving out tips to discourage hoarding. The “popular” filter helps you find quality levels to play, and Nintendo also includes an area for its official new levels. Naturally, it’s slim pickings on launch day, but I’m looking forward to seeing what the masses can do once they get the hang of it. 

While Tipping Stars could use a few more new elements to freshen things up overall, the levels remain enjoyable nonetheless. The lack of extraneous minigames and boss battles keeps the focus where it should be – right on the puzzles.

The Edge
The Wii U version has better visuals and sound, and the gamepad provides more real estate to work with on its larger touchscreen. In fact, most of the levels are slightly tweaked to accommodate the widescreen picture as opposed to the 3DS’s 4:3 touchscreen. The 3DS version has the advantage of portability. Fortunately, players won’t have to choose as they’ll get both versions of the game with their purchase.
Take the Mario vs. Donkey Kong series back to its classic 2D puzzle gameplay
The simple and colorful toys, traps, and gadgets haven’t changed much visually (or otherwise) from previous entries
Several songs and sound effects are familiar, but World 6’s piano theme stands out
Touchscreen controls are responsive, and scanning larger levels with the circle pad (or left analog stick on Wii U) works smoothly
By trimming the fat and focusing on solid puzzle gameplay, Nintendo turns in another good entry. Some fans, however, may be disappointed in the lack of new trinkets to play with
Moderately high

Products In This Article

Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Starscover

Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars

Wii U, 3DS
Release Date: