Sometimes rivalries just won’t go away.
It may have been some time since Mario and Donkey Kong really faced off against each other, but the war still goes on, at least in clockwork toy form. Mario Vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars is the latest entry in the puzzle game series that pits the player trying to guide the little clockwork toy Nintendo characters towards a goal while collecting coins along the way. Tipping Stars may be the latest in a reasonably long running series, but it also happens to have a couple of firsts, not least of which is the first appearance of this title on the Wii U.
The player uses the stylus on the touchscreen to manipulate objects to aid their little clockwork toys along their way, and this obviously works for both the 3DS and the Wii U’s GamePad. But, in another first for the game, players will actually get to enjoy both as Tipping Stars is the first game in Nintendo’s version of Cross-Buy. By buying wither the Wii U or 3DS version of Tipping Stars, players will also get a code for the other version. Two for the price of one. It’s not all roses though, as cross-save doesn’t seem to have made its way to Nintendo yet, so any progress in one version cannot be continued in the other. Still, little steps are better than none, Nintendo.
Playing the game, players are presented with a 2D level which will have to be manipulated in order to allow a little mascot to reach the goal. Girders, conveyor belts, springboards and other objects must be placed in the appropriate positions so that once the toy is activated, it can reach the goal. This all starts quite easily, possibly revealing an aim at a younger audience, but the introduction of additional tools and concepts, along with more toys to guide to the goal, ensures that the difficulty ramps up quite quickly.
Across some eight worlds, each with numerous levels, players will place their objects and hope that the toys can reach the goal without any problems. But things are further complicated by the inclusion of time limits, and the constant drive to master each level. Achieving a full complement of stars in a level will involve not only beating the time limit, but also collecting all of the coins available. This is where the game really gets difficult, as some of the coins will be placed so as to induce some epic head scratching. Achieving a full complement of stars will result in the unlocking of bonus levels, which are substantially more difficult than the usual levels, and the warm glow of accomplishment.
In all, Tipping Stars is a great little, quick hit puzzle game that is perhaps more suited to the mobile nature of the 3DS than the Wii U. Whilst not really reaching the level of polish found in other, more triple A Nintendo games, it is bright, colourful and charming to look at. However, beyond this core game experience is another first for the series, something which could potentially provide infinite replayability – the Workshop and shared online levels.
The level designer allows players to create their own puzzle levels and share them with the world. The creating player must complete their level before submitting it to the masses, at least proving that no impossible levels will appear. The stars that the player earns through the core game can be used to unlock additional content in the Workshop, or they can be used to “tip” creators of levels that you particularly enjoy, which is a nice incentive to keep playing the game and creating levels. Sharing the levels with the community is as straight forward as it can be, and finding new levels to play is equally as simple, with various options for bringing up the most popular levels or levels created by friends narrowing down the choice somewhat. It may not be quite there yet, but Nintendo seem to be embracing the online community functions, and players can leave comments, or ask for help, on particular levels through Miiverse.
Mario Vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars is a lovely little puzzle game with the potential for a lot of content. Designing levels is best on the Wii U GamePad, whilst playing the game is most enjoyable on the 3DS. Fortunately, players get both games for the one purchase, so everyone’s a winner.