Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars, the latest installment in the Mario vs. Donkey Kong puzzle game series, is coming out on March 5. Let’s take a look at what we know about it so far.
Like Mario vs. Donkey Kong games of the past, Tipping Stars is a kid-friendly 2D puzzle-platformer. Players use their Wii U or 3DS styluses to move bridges and guide small wind-up dolls (called “Minis”) to their goal. This game is coming out simultaneously for both the Wii U and the 3DS, but you only need to buy it once—every 3DS copy comes with a free Wii U copy, and vice versa.
When you play on the Wii U, you will not be able to see the entire level on your GamePad. The smaller screen gives you only a zoomed-in portion of the puzzle. You use the GamePad to make immediate decisions about what to do next and use the TV to craft your larger strategy. It’s not totally clear how this will work on the 3DS’s split screen, but it will probably be pretty similar.
In addition to the puzzle mode, there will also be a creation mode that will allow players to build their own puzzles. They can then share their custom levels on the Nintendo Miiverse and play puzzles created by other players from around the world. The biggest new feature here is the ability to “tip” puzzle creators with stars, like you would tip at a restaurant. Get it? Tipping stars? Basically, if you really like a player-created level, you can rate it from one to five stars. The creator can then use those stars to buy building materials and make more great puzzles.
I’m not totally sure how I feel about this tipping feature. Part of what makes gaming so satisfying for me is the computer’s total objectivity: if I do well, I know I really earned it. Then again, this subjective feedback system might be a good way for kids to learn about handling criticism.
Overall, Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars looks like a pleasant, low-impact puzzle game. Plus, it’s just $19.99, which is about half the price of most new Wii U or 3DS games. If you like the other entries in the series, this one is sure to be a good time.