Title: Mini Mario and Friends: amiibo Challenge
System: Wii U/3DS (eShop)
Price: Varies on amiibo
Release date: 04/28/2016
The main game/story
There is no story in this game, unlike the other Mario Vs DK games. Whether that’s a good or bad thing though considering the quality of the cutscenes in prior games is up to you. Another thing that may or may not make you happy is that yes, this is yet another Mario Vs DK game that revolves around the Minis. Those hoping for a sequel that played like the superb GBA original will be disappointed.
Nearly all of the art assets are recycled from Tipping Stars or other entires in the series, which is rather disappointing since after four games with the same art style you’d expect some sort of change or improvement. That being said, the new mini characters at least fit the artstyle well, so it’s clear there was some effort at consistency.
Music and Sound
Yet again, more recycled assets from Tipping Stars and the previous games, from multiple music tracks to the irritating voice clips for some of the Minis. That being said, not all of them are bad, as some of the new characters sound OK, and they each have their own “theme music” as well which is a very nice tough.
If you’ve played any Mario Vs Donkey Kong game since March of the Minis, (save for Minis on the Move which was a spin-off of a spin-off) you pretty much know how the entire game functions, as the core game mechanics are exactly the same. While you do end up only having to guide one mini to the goal this time, it still shares the same object of creating a path for them to get to the exit while collecting all the items along the way, which nets you a trophy if you get them all and beat the level in a quick amount of time. What makes this game stand out from the other entries is the inclusion of amiibo functionality, which is pretty much just a method of accessing four special levels for each of the characters. Each Mario character has their own ability, such as Mario’s wall jump to Bowser’s jump stomp, and these abilities play a key role in that mini’s respective world, with the entire world focusing on using those abilities combined with a clever gimmick to progress. Of course, these worlds are required to get 100% completion in the game, so you’ll be spending quite a bit of money to get the entire cast. Thankfully there is a fair amount of content if you scan any non-Mario amiibo, (excluding amiibo cards which do not work) which lets you play as Mini-Spec, a generic wind-up robot with no abilities or special powers to speak of.
The normal levels are pretty much just basic puzzle levels that aren’t too difficult to complete and only a tad more difficult to get trophies on, especially if you use certain characters like Mario or Donkey Kong to plow your way through the game. Before long you’ll probably end up completing all of the normal levels just when things get interesting, which further proves the point that the game encourages you to use Mario series amiibo for added benefits and access to the more creative levels.
In conclusion, Mini Mario and Friends amiibo Challenge is a fairly basic puzzle game that isn’t too interesting or engaging. It’s the same game you’d come to expect from NST, who seems doomed to make these games for all eternity for some reason, but also serves as a fairly decent value since the game is free to start, and only one figure amiibo of any kind is required to play through the normal stages. Despite the minimal differences, I’d recommend playing the Wii U version due to the fact that bringing amiibo while out and about is not recommended, and since you need to use them to play the 3DS version its better to just stay at home and play the game. Still, there’s really no reason to buy the entire Mario series line just to get a 100% completion, nor is this game an incentive to buy your first amiibo. Like with amiibo Tap, it’s a fun game to check out whenever you buy an amiibo for miscellaneous purposes, but not a reason to go out and get an amiibo just for the game, especially since when you think about it you’re paying $13 MSRP just for a very small amount of levels, even more so if you beat the normal levels and want to pick up a Mario series amiibo.
I give Mini Mario and Friends amiibo Challenge a 4 out of 10, and really only recommend you check it out if you already have amiibo on hand. Still, if you’ve played one of the Mini games, you’ve played them all, so don’t expect anything too exciting from this small eShop title. Hopefully one day NST will get back to making things besides the Mini Mario series or will revisit the gameplay mechanics of the GBA Mario Vs. Donkey Kong. Now that would be a game I’d buy all the amiibo to unlock more levels in.