Mario vs. Donkey Kong Review (Nintendo Switch)

Published on June 17th, 2024 by Natan C.

Mario vs. Donkey Kong Review (Nintendo Switch)

The Nintendo Switch has been released for over 7 years and the platform is obviously winding down. Ever since Super Mario Bros. Wonder dropped, there has not been many first-party games aside from Princess Peach Showtime. What we did get is a handful of older Mario remakes, like Super Mario RPG and Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. However, one remake that was often forgotten was not an RPG, but the puzzle-platformer game Mario vs Donkey Kong. Let’s check out if this game is worth a look.


Donkey Kong has taken off with a bag of Mini Mario toys, and it’s up to the real Mario to stop him! To do so, you’ll traverse 8 different worlds to grab all the scattered Mini Marios, gather them up, and confront Donkey Kong to drive him away.

Clearing enemies in Mario vs. Donkey Kong
Clear the obstacles in your way to reclaim the Mario toys!

Every world has 6 levels, each made up of two halves. During the first half, you need to find a key in the level and get it to the door. In the second half, you need to track down and grab the Mini Mario, all while navigating obstacles and dodging enemies along the way. After clearing all 6 levels in a world, you unlock the Mini Mario Level, which involves guiding your little guys to collect 3 letters spelling out “TOY’, and then getting them back into their box. After that, it’s time for a showdown with DK.


Mario controls as well as you’d expect. Jumping around feels as great as ever, and his movement fits perfectly with the boxed-in levels. Just running and jumping will get you through most puzzles, but some require extra attention. You can stand on your hands to block projectiles raining from above and execute a stronger jump if you need a bit of extra height.

Climbing ropes in Mario vs. Donkey Kong
Use your surroundings to your advantage.

You’ll need to use your surroundings to your advantage in order to succeed. Mario can also hang on poles and use them to swing himself even further. You can climb on ropes and jump between them. Some enemies’ tails can even be used this way. Combined with other stage elements, they help each level stand out. Every problem requires a different solution.

Level Design

Levels in Mario vs. Donkey Kong are all puzzle boxes with a set solution. You will need to carefully engage the stage elements to retrieve the Mini Mario. Almost every level use colored switches to activate or deactivate stage elements of a set color, like blocks. You’ll also have to face enemies often, and they’re not always just a roadblock. As I mentioned earlier, there are monkey enemies whose tails you can hold onto. You can also use Bob-ombs to blow up some blocks or throw enemies on spiky surfaces to traverse them safely. Additionally, there are 3 presents per level up for grabs, rewarding you for going out of your way to face an extra challenge.

Sliding on ice in Mario vs. Donkey Kong
Every world has its gimmicks to keep the game fresh.

Every level has a clear end goal with a set solution, but that solution isn’t always obvious. Since every level is on a timer, you don’t have much time to ponder. Some levels also require accurate jumps or timing, which might get annoying if you’re as bad at video games as I am, but it rarely feels unfair.

If you want a less stressful experience, you can enable an assist mode, that gives you a checkpoint to bubble to when you are hit, as well as the removal of the time limit. It’s perfect for more inexperienced players or those who want a more relaxed playthrough.


Your chase of Donkey Kong will span 8 worlds, and as mentioned earlier, they each have 6 regular levels and 2 finale levels. Even after clearing those 64 stages and the final confrontation against DK (which is around 5 hours of content), he isn’t giving up so easily. There is a series of “Plus” levels that act as a New Game+ of sorts with slightly altered gameplay, and some extra bonus levels and time-attacks. Apart from that, there isn’t really a lot of meat on this bone. It’s basically always the same style of levels.

Choosing a level in Mario vs. Donkey Kong
You can clear all levels in a world after the first one in any order you want.

Every world does offer one distinct level. You might encounter a special level has you chase a key to unlock a chest which gives you tons of one-ups. However, there are also extra one-ups scattered across the stage, giving the level some risk and reward. One detail I appreciate is that you can clear all levels in a world in any order you want after you clear the first one. I just ended up tackling them in order, but I do like you’re given a choice.


When you open the game, you are immediately greeted by a great-looking CGI cutscene showing the game’s premise. Apart from that, this game is the epitome of Mario. The presentation throughout resembles many of the earlier standard Mario games on the Switch. It doesn’t really stand out, but it doesn’t need to. The game looks bright and colorful, and the tunes are cheery, without any performance issues whatsoever on my end.

The opening cutscene in Mario vs. Donkey Kong
The cutscenes, though sparce, are a visual delight!


Mario vs. Donkey Kong is a Mario game through and through. It has everything you ever want out of a platformer: fluid movement, solid level design, catchy background tunes, and colorful visuals. Combine all this with some decently challenging puzzles with good variety, this is a solid game you can’t go wrong with. However, as a remake of a Game Boy Advance game, it isn’t much more than that. Combined with a relatively steep price, Mario vs. Donkey Kong struggles to stand out amidst the many other Mario games on the Switch. But if you do pick this game up, you won’t regret it.

Mario vs. Donkey Kong gets an 8/10.

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About Natan C.

A professional at being bad at games and discovering new obsessions, Natan has played all types of games ever since he started gaming by playing Skylanders on the Wii. He's currently studying linguistics and aspires to one day write for a video game.