Mario And Donkey Kong: Minis On The Move is the most stressful game ever made*. I've always had a slight issue with any form of entertainment that introduces a time limit on how long you've got to perform a task, and Mario's latest takes that idea and stuffs it right into the core of the experience.
Based around the concept of placing falling tiles (think Tetris) to complete a maze before a robotic Nintendo mascot automatically strolls around the man-made path, the challenge, as you may have worked out, comes from a timer which counts down to your demise. It's not much of an issue at first – levels are fairly mundane and easy – but filter away the early light-heartedness and a beast is found lurking. Asking that you find a way to be concise yet speedy, trying to figure out where each piece should go – while also often having to change them halfway through an attempt – is far more tricky than you're no doubt currently imagining.
This is down, mostly, to 'Many Mini Mayhem', which unlocks as you progress. Your role in proceedings is now to move or rotate tiles while also taking care of two characters, and it's the ultimate tool in increasing the likelihood of a heart attack. Levels become so intrinsically insane that trying to keep an eye on both your minis – who through the panic have now become like your own children – and navigate to safety is almost not fun. In fact, it's borderline horrific.
Despite all this – or in fact probably because of it – Minis On The Move is incredibly addictive. Like most of the more celebrated puzzle games, it manages this success because of how simple the foundations are. It takes less than a few seconds to understand and appreciate what's being asked of you, and the challenging aspect – should you be of a similar frame of mind to me – merely riles you up. I may make it my life's work to complete this to perfection.
It manages to be varied too, a handful of different twists on the same idea providing depth to anyone who wants to pile in thousands of hours. The mechanics never change entirely – Mario's opening task of placing random tiles makes way for Princess Peach's test of laying predetermined ones, for example – but they shift enough to force your brain to adapt its thought process. To break it down as much as humanly possible, Mario And Donkey Kong is simply a very good puzzle game.
There are a few distractions too, namely the mini-games that come bundled in. While it's difficult to criticise something that is essentially nothing more than extra content, they're not particularly entertaining. Offshoots of the same blueprint for the most part, I'll be amazed if anyone sinks serious time into them, competition with a friend withstanding.
There was a time where this would have been whacked on shelves for a princely sum, and even then we would have sung its plaudits. To be able to download it for £8.99 through the eShop is knowledge that will make even your mum happy. She'll love that she can choose her favourite Nintendo character too.
Certainly one of the better puzzle games of recent times, I doubt Mario And Donkey Kong will rise to the sort of prominence which inspires expletive-fuelled internet arguments. It will, however, bestow a warm, funny feeling onto those who decide this may be worth a crack. That could be your heart, though...
Main game and mini-games played for 7 hours