Mario vs Donkey Kong Stats and Records

Stats time!

Stars:12/48

World Stats
World 1 8/8
World 2 2/8
World 3 1/8
World 4 0/8
World 5 1/8
World 6 0/8

Level High Scores (Only applicable to Stared levels)

1-1 32200
1-2 31900
1-3 29100
1-4 32000
1-5 30100
1-6 28700
1-M 16000
1-B 27800
2-M 18000
2-B 27300
3-M 17600
5-5 34900

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Mario vs Donkey Kong Review

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After many years, I have finally been able to play the legendary Mario vs DK game. I actually always thought that it was in the same style as the original Donkey Kong and was surprised to see whole levels and puzzles in this one. The final boss is the only level that is just like the old game. It was cool to see such variety though and it’s a pretty fun game. There is also quite a bit of bonus content to be found here as well. I have one issue with how you obtain stars in this game, but beyond that it’s a solid experience.

The plot is that DK has decided to steal all of the toys for himself. Mario doesn’t take too kindly to this and calls DK a big monkey as an insult several times. Seeing as how this doesn’t work, Mario decides to beat DK down until the monkey finally gives in. Will DK let go of his toys or will Mario have to hit him with a clean uppercut? Only time will tell. Meanwhile, the Mario toys are fairly advanced and seem to have some rudimentary A.I. going for them.

There are 6 main worlds to the game and each one has 8 levels. This makes for a decently long campaign. It should take you a few hours to complete the game in total and add a few depending on how difficult the puzzles can get. There is an extensive amount of replay value to be found as well since beating the game unlocks 6 Plus worlds. After this you unlock the X levels. Once you complete those, then you can face the true final boss and unlock the ultimately true ending. I believe you need to get all of the Stars to make it this far so that should really take a while. The game has an unbelievable amount of bonus content in it so you’ll b getting your moneys worth.

Now, I originally thought that to get a star for a level you just had to complete it while holding onto the three bags in the level. It turns out that you actually have to beat the level’s high score to do it which is a little annoying. It’s hard to know how to do such a thing so repetition is your best bet. Just keep playing until you can really ace the level. It’s a little harder than I’d like and I still think grabbing the bags will be enough. It does help raise the difficulty once again though.

The graphics are pretty solid for the GBA. It’s certainly a AAA title as the competitors wouldn’t really be able to match this. It’s that golden era in Nintendo where all of the character models are right. There was only one boss level where I couldn’t even see the ladder so I died a few times. It was more of an optical illusion than an issue with the graphics though. As you’d expect from a Mario game, the soundtrack is quite solid. I particularly like the Fire Mountain themes, but the game has a good variety to it. Most of the level themes are quite good and it certainly amplifies the quality of the game. You’re able to play the level over and over again because you have good beats to listen too. It helps that the loading times here are great so you never have to wait for long.

Even the story felt like it had more effort to it than you’d expect. Mario talks quite a bit here, certainly more than I expected. He may be a bit meaner than usual as he calls DK a big monkey at times, but this is the plumber who calls you stinky in Mario Party. It’s easy to forget that Mario wasn’t always the very chipper guy that he is today. Even the Mini Marios rub the loss in DK’s face as they laugh at him quite a bit. You end up almost feeling bad for the monkey by the end. He certainly didn’t ask for this. Of course, DK is a robber so he ultimately did bring this upon himself. You gotta just live with the consequences. I only got the first ending, but at least it gives DK a fighting chance as he grabs more toys and runs. Mario’s going to need to hire more security even if it hurts the whole budget cuts angle.

The gameplay is sort of like a 2D Mario adventure, but you’re stuck in a limited space. There are two acts to each level. The first act has you hit a bunch of switches and get past obstacles to bring a key over to the door. In the second act you just need to get to the Mini Mario. The gameplay is actually quite spread out and diverse. You have an array of many different jumps to use. I personally liked spamming the dash dance jump as it would give you a lot of height and you could cheese many levels with this. I’m sure that the developers really thought the level designs through but with this many different options it makes sense that you would be able to cheese parts of it. They just can’t expect to cover for every contingency.

There are also the Mini Mario levels. There is one of them in every world and they’re a nice change of pace. The little guys get lost rather easily so you have to make sure not to go too fast or you’ll leave them behind. I enjoyed the levels in this format that I played and while the main ones were certainly more fun, it’s always satisfying to lead the little guys to the goal. The Mini Marios have heart.

It’s relatively simple gameplay which is likely what makes it so fun. It’s only half brain teaser while the other half of the puzzle is having the ability to physically get through the obstacles. It’s a great blend and a lot of fun to play. The game does a good job of bringing in many different enemies and obstacles so that the levels don’t feel the same. It would have been nice to have seen classic characters like Luigi and Peach, but I suppose even Mario has to work alone sometimes. It’s probably nostalgic for him to be the lone hero like in the original Donkey Kong game.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend this title. It’s easy to see why it became so popular. The game’s just a lot of fun and it even has some cutscenes. It’s pretty impressive since the game is so old. The graphics and soundtrack are both on point as well as the level designs. There is a lot of replay value here and my only complaint is that getting the stars in the levels to unlock the final bonus ones is maybe a little too tedious. I’d like to have a clear metric so I know exactly what I have to do in order to clear the level. That seems a little more fair if you ask me. Maybe they’ll implement that in the sequel. I’ll certainly buy that one although it could be a little while until I do. In the mean time, buy this one and let me know what you thought of it.

Overall 8/10

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze Review

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It’s time to review the final DK Country game and possibly the final main DK game of them all. The Country series has been pretty solid for all of the installments so it’s nice to see what the Wii U can bring to the table. The game is a little shorter than Returns and noticeably easier as well, but it’s still a quality platformer. One nice mechanic that they added was the dash and now I can’t imagine playing a DK game without it. It makes the characters so much more versatile and deadly in the levels.I certainly had a blast spamming it and it’ll remind you of the 3D Sonic games.

The plot involves a group of ice creatures deciding to take over a mountain. This angers DK and his pals because they want more bananas and they don’t grow in frigid temperatures. Thus, DK and friends decide to beat people up along the way and eat what they can. Still, can they defeat this Bowser impostor or will the trials be too much for them? The story definitely pales in comparison to the last game though for one key reason…the first 4 worlds are filler. They have nothing to do with the plot and there aren’t even any ice levels in them. For a game that’s called Tropical Freeze, this was a little odd. Once you enter the final 2 worlds then the ice levels start to show up so that was neat. Either way, the level variety is always fun, but I wish the plot could have worked with that a little.

The gameplay is the 2D platforming that you would expect. That being said, as mentioned earlier we now have a dash mechanic. It is incredibly handy as you can cross large distances with the move. It’s also not too automatic or easy so it feels like a legitimate technique that you’ll want to master. If you learn it just right, you’ll find yourself blasting through the levels. The gameplay is very smooth and you can definitely know that this is a AAA game right off the bat. I was very happy to trade in the Wii remote controls for a more proper All Pro and Gamepad setup as well. It’s night and day comparing the two styles for this platformer.

While the levels are significantly easier than DK Country Returns, it’s not really fair to say that it’s too drastic. The main reason for this is that I just got done completing the former so it’s possible that I’m just more prepared for whatever the DK series throws at me right now. It’s like playing Dark Souls 1 and 2 back to back. 2 will probably feel a lot easier than 1 did initially. I do think that Tropical Freeze probably had the tougher bosses though. It’s a close one, but the last boss for example would certainly be rather difficult to defeat in one player mode. He has a lot of health and it’s hard to predict his horn attack. It almost feels purely random. I don’t think any of the bosses are inherently unfair though. They’re tough, but you just need to keep on going at them until you win.

The soundtrack isn’t bad. There are no super hype themes like the Returns villain jingle, but they’ll get you through the stages. The boss theme that plays when a boss first shows up is similar to Mighty No 9’s main boss theme which is pretty interesting. There’s a good guitar/drum solo that works well for that. I don’t really recall any of the stage themes, but they were pleasant enough. The graphics also look pretty sharp for the title. It brought back the Shadow levels and the elements all look really sharp. The characters also look good in the cutscenes. Nintendo never disappoints when it comes to the technical aspects and they rarely do with the gameplay either.

There’s a good amount of replay value here as you’d expect. Collecting all of the puzzle pieces in the levels will certainly take a good amount of time. There are quite a few of them in each level after all. Most of the levels require repetition to really get them down so it’s more about the time than the difficulty. I believe you unlock an extra world if you do that so that’s a nice incentive. It’ll certainly give hardcore DK players a few extra hours to have fun with. The main game will only take you a handful of hours as well. 6-8 I’d imagine, but that’s a pretty decent length for a platformer. Having 8 worlds helps a lot, but 6 will do.

Overall, Donkey Kong has brought us another pretty solid game. If you want to really experience the difficulty as the true DK experience, make sure you choose to play as DK. If you want to coast through the levels a little easier, make sure to pick Diddy Kong or Dixie. They can cheese you through just about any obstacle. I look forward to seeing another Donkey Kong country game rise to the surface. Hopefully the plot will be a little better even though I know that is rarely Nintendo’s goal. As long as the gameplay is good, I suppose the rest doesn’t matter quite as much and Nintendo certainly knows how to handle gameplay. I never got to play as Cranky, but that’s fine. I get the feeling that his special ability wouldn’t have been all that great.

Overall 8/10

Donkey Kong Country Returns Review

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It’s time to finally go to one of Nintendo’s most classic franchises. DK even started before Mario which is pretty impressive. I got to play most of the old games so it’s cool to see the Country series return. I never really played the music games for the GC, but they are barely even referenced here so I’m confident that they won’t be missed. I ended up getting Tropical Freeze shortly after this one so it’ll be cool to see how it stacks up. I can safely say that Country Returns is a fun game and it’s easy to see that it’s another AAA title from Nintendo.

The plot is that a mysterious being made of wood has shown up to take over the world. It mind controls all of the nearby animals and forces them to start stealing all of the bananas in the area. That’s diabolical if you ask me! They try to control DK, but it apparently doesn’t work on him. This may be a subtle shot at DK’s intelligence since he really looks…not too smart the whole time. Ah well, whatever works right? DK must stop these guys since they are insulting the bananas with their cruel schemes!

There are 8 main worlds. There is also a 9th, but to get to that one you’ll need a lot of collectibles. That’s good for the replay value though. There are puzzle pieces and 4 Letters to grab in every level. Obtaining them all will require you to master all of the levels and show the world that you are a DK pro. Even without this, the main game should take you a reasonable amount of hours. If you beat every world in an hour, then that’s around 8 which is pretty good. Even if it’s a little less than that, it’s much better than Star Fox Zero’s <4 hour play time or Into The Nexus 3 hours.

The game is reasonably difficult as well. I don't think I would say that it is quite as tough as Super Mario World, but it's been ages since I played that game so it's possible that it would be a lot easier nowadays. The gameplay is divided into a few different segments. You have the traditional platforming levels where you jump and dodge obstacles to get to the end. Where DK differs from Mario and the others is that you can roll into opponents to deal damage and you can shatter objects by slapping the floor. You'll grab onto vines to swing around and there are just many more elements than a traditional Mario game. It's made to be more complex and you have to consider a lot of variables.

A great deal of the level is interactive as well with most bushes and other suspicious objects containing bananas and golden coins for you to grab. Some of them are just trolls, but you should check them all out. Gold coins in particular are very valuable in the game. Other parts of the level will see you head into a mining cart. One hit will destroy you so you have to jump with great precision. There's also a blue cart which only appears twice in the whole game. It's slightly different as when you jump, you actually leave the cart. Thus, you have to jump and keep moving to fall into the cart again since it will speed ahead of you afterwards. It's a little easier in co-op since you effectively have two chances to survive this way. There is even a whole boss battle modeled after this style. Surprisingly I don't think there were any under water levels. No worries, Tropical Freeze fixed that.

The soundtrack isn't very lively or memorable for the most part, but I really like the villain jingle. Whenever their theme plays, you know that things are about to get real. It's a little cheesy/corny, but it's catchy and that's what counts. It is even used as the final boss theme which is pretty surreal. I can certainly say that I wasn't really expecting it when it occurred. The graphics are pretty solid. They're not amazing, but the character designs look sharp. It's fun to see a modern DK and there is something novel about seeing any Nintendo character on the big screen. Mario, Link, Kirby, DK, the games never look outright spectacular in the cutscenes despite the gameplay being super crisp, but just seeing them is really cool. Maybe it's because their series don't tend to have a lot of cutscenes, but it is more satisfying than seeing another franchise appear fully animated.

When it comes to 2D side scrollers, Mario's still got the edge over everyone. He's just impossible to beat. I'd probably give Sonic 2nd place although I mainly like it for the boss battles. The actual platforming can be a little tricky at times. Kirby would probably be third because I love cheesing levels. If we just talk about pure gameplay, Kirby even beats Sonic. Then I'd put in DK. It feels like Mario, but the extra complexities do slow it down a bit. If you count one shot games that had side scrolling like Klonoa then the list can get quite long so lets stick to Nintendo for now. I'll merge Yoshi with Mario since they're so similar. DK may be the lowest on this chart, but that just goes to show how tough the competition is. Plus, Nintendo owns 90% of those series which is equally impressive.

Really one of the best things about the game is how much content it has and how fun the levels are. It's a very high quality title that you can play for hours without getting tired. The plot may not be amazing, but the gameplay is sharp and that's really what you're looking for in a title like this. I didn't get to play the Gold Pyramid world since you need to do a lot of bonus stuff for that, but perhaps someday. It's really good to have DK finally return to the home console and maybe we'll get a game for the Switch at some point.

I don't really have any negatives with the game either. The levels all have a check point or sometimes multiple ones. If you die, you can always respawn close by. You can buy extra lives with the medals that you collect and the medals keep replenishing so getting them isn't an issue. The levels are challenging, but not unfair the way that Mario and the Lost Levels was or Mighty No 9. The levels are made to be difficult, but balanced. You'll get the hang of them with practice since the levels themselves never actually change. It's just really good game design.

Overall, Donkey Kong Country Returns is definitely a fun game. I can see why DK fans were so thrilled when it finally came back. The title does a good job of bringing back all of the classic DK elements that fans were expecting. It may have had less barrel launching than I was expecting, but I don't mind since the actual platforming is really the fun part for the game. You can get the game for a pretty good price nowadays so I'd highly recommend it. There is a lot to do here after all and the level variety is excellent. You also won't be forgetting the main jingle of the game anytime soon either. It's simply too awesome and catchy. Now, it's time to check out Tropical Freeze! So far, I'd actually say that it's easier than Returns, but I've only conquered 2 worlds so far. There's still plenty of adventure left!

Overall 8/10

Pixels Review

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Hyped to be one of the greatest comedy films of the decade, I was looking forward to Pixels. In case you were curious, I was the one who was hyping it up. Donkey Kong and Pac Man were going to be in the same film. How could you not get excited when Super Smash Bros was finally coming to life? The first trailer was incredible and it was actually taken seriously for a while. The second half of the trailer hinted that the film would be a comedy, but for most of it, it looked like a serious action thriller. The film wasn’t anything like that, but it’s nice to think of how it could have been.

The film begins with Sam as a kid going to the arcade with his friend. Right from the start, we learn that he’s a pretty selfish/immoral kid who doesn’t mind stealing money from a little girl who was selling lemonade. That was just terrible and it was an early sign that this character would not be heroic. Sam lost a big tournament of video games and his life spiraled out of patrol. He became a part of a Nerds brigade and spends his time flirting. Luckily, Sam’s friend became the President so Sam still has connections. When Aliens attack the planet, Sam knows who he has to call!

Unfortunately, this film ended up being a bit of a train wreck. None of the characters were likable and the film made the big mistake that many comedy films end up falling into, many of the jokes are simply crude and inappropriate. For every good joke, there will be about 10 that are simply bad and a reason why comedy films don’t have a great rep anymore. It’s too bad because there are a lot of scenes that are actually funny. A good example of this is just about any moment with the President or some of Sam’s scenes like him reciting the nerds speech and getting called out for it. I also loved it when Sam walked into the White House in shorts and almost backed out of saving the world because the main heroine was “being mean.” The film had promise and I actually found it funnier than Ant Man or just about any comedy film that I’ve seen in a long time.

Once again, it’s held back by all of the bad jokes though. The characters are constantly flirting and joking about girls. Making really bad comments is something that each character does a lot and one character’s whole gimmick is that he’s very crude and always making a dirty remark. That would be Eddie, the worst character in the film. A close second is Ludlow. Most of his jokes rely on acting gay and being the stereotypical version of what some people believe gamers to be. He doesn’t know how to act in public and is in love with a video game character. He’s just terrible and his long speech in the army room is wince worthy. His singing is also terrible because he accompanies it with provocative dancing.

I’d like to say that Sam was a good character, but I’ve already explained that he isn’t. He allows his friends to steal money and he does not regret it at all. A character breaks up with someone so Sam immediately takes this as his clue to hit on her. He’s just not a sensitive guy and even though he gets most of the funny moments in the film, it can’t save his character. I’m in the minority in that I think Sandler played the part well and his character was easily one of the best humans, but he still doesn’t get a pass due to just how bad this film was. My favorite human in this film was the President, not that it is really saying much. His jokes were typically funny and he always rolled with the punches. It’s very intriguing to think of how America would be if he was the President. He’s still in charge though so he makes everyone respect him when the going gets tough. Violet is the main heroine and the film tries to make her look as bad as possible in the beginning. While she tries to be tough and insults Sam a lot, she ultimately realizes that he’s a good guy and the usual deal. She didn’t get a lot of character development except to be around for Sam’s character, but it’s not surprising that the film didn’t know how to develop her character.

When you really think about it, the writing is why this film is terrible. Take away the dozens of inappropriate and suggestive comments and you’ve actually got a good film going here. Of course, it’s so numerous and constant that Pixels would also be a completely different film. It’s like saying that Sucker Punch would be great if you took away the plot or that the Lord of the Rings would be epic if the characters were all robots. So, Pixels, as much as I like to think of how good it could be, it simply isn’t good.

At least we have the video game characters, which is the one bright point for the film. As you would expect, Pac Man looks downright incredible as he mows through buildings. He probably had the best acting in the film as he even changed expressions to show that he was upset after the characters started attacking him. There was a lot of plot hax in how the heroes overcame him since Pac Man was already faster than them when they were at top speed. There’s no way that Sandler could outrace Pac Man while driving backwards. There’s simply no way!

Donkey Kong also looks great and he even gets the cool “We Will Rock You” theme as the heroes mount their big offensive against him. The game was a lot of fun to play back in the day and the nostalgic music will certainly hit you right in the nostalgia. Stopping him is no easy feat and the action scene may have been the best one in the film as the heroes really had to stop the barrels from running them over.

Donkey Kong and Pac Man were really the only big hitters here. I think that it was a bit of a missed opportunity as we could have gotten more big names in the film. Mario makes a cameo, which is a lot of fun, but you have to be watching carefully or you may miss him. The Centipede also deals a lot of damage of course and we even get a delivery boy who destroys someone in the background, which was fairly shocking. That person may not have come back to life since she wasn’t a trophy so the film may have been a little grimmer than we thought. A certain Super Smash Bros player also makes a cameo.

As you can see, the film was great when it was in an action scene. It’s just when the characters would open their mouths to say something that everything would go downhill. I still did crack up many times in the film. Some were for the good jokes and other times I would laugh at how seriously the film was trying to take itself. For example, the first scene where the aliens attack the government base. It happened sooner than I thought it would and it was so grim and unrealistic that you can’t help but chuckle. Likewise when the characters dug out an old VHS that had the villain’s speech on it. If they hadn’t found the tape, the whole plot would never have become known to them. It felt like a Sci-Fy Channel plot twist!

Naturally with the writing as bad as it was, the film couldn’t really handle any of the plots that it had. Eddie’s was unbearably bad and Ludlow’s romance with the video game character was also horrendous. Watching a classic video game icon turn into the girl and immediately get together with Ludlow was terrible. There’s even a time skip where the plot gets even more messed up. Sam’s romance isn’t much better as he gets together with the heroine for no real reason and while she may have wanted a rebound guy, this was just too soon and too sudden. The scene of her crying in her closet was so bad that I could barely believe that it was real. She had been acting like the tough female protagonist that we have come to expect so this was so out of character that it was shocking.

At least the soundtrack was really good. As explained, we got the classic “We Will Rock You” song along with the Pac Man theme, Donkey Kong theme and some other retro tunes. Those were all a lot of fun and mixed in with the epic action scenes, they helped to tear you away from the rest of the film, which was just really wince worthy. Even the climax which is a long battle against the alien invasion of video games couldn’t save the film as it was too little too late.

The aliens never actually appear, but based off of the dialogue, we can make some connections. Q*bert talks about how his home used to be really happy until they got Earth’s declaration of war. Since he could not have his video game form until it was sent, I’m thinking that the aliens simply weren’t corporal. They can assume any shape, but their normal one is likely just intangible and something that exists, but can’t be seen. They obviously have tremendous abilities, but aren’t hostile by nature as they can enjoy a good laugh like the rest of us. If they attacked seriously, it would definitely be Game Over for Earth. A sequel where they adapt the 90’s of gaming would certainly be epic!

Overall, Pixels was a flop. Now, you may think that the film was still decent thanks to it actually being very funny at times, having good action scenes, and a good soundtrack, but I’m afraid that it is not the case. The writing is simply too bad with enough terrible scenes that I can’t give the film anything higher than a 1. It’s still a light film that you can breeze through so I would sooner see it than a lot of 2 star films and maybe even some 3’s, but I can’t give it more than the  1 due to how seriously bad it is. It’s easy to watch since most of the negatives are writing wise and just affect your hearing, but that’s still enough to doom it to a 1. It’s still not a 0 so at least it earned a point somewhere along the line. When you think of Pixels, just picture the scene where Sam walks into the White House and insults everyone while in shorts. That’s probably the best human scene except maybe for the President being humiliated on National Television. The video game scenes are mainly awesome and are the highlight with the fight scenes, but hopefully the sequel can be better. After all, it may be a verrrrry long time until I ever see a Sandler film again and they wouldn’t even need him for a Pixels film. Just call it Super Smash Bros and make it completely animated. Fire the current writer and get someone who knows how to make a script. Then we’re looking at a winner! I definitely don’t recommend watching this film and you’re better off just waiting for Mission Impossible 5 and seeing how good that one is.

Overall 1/10