Everything You Need to Know About Mario vs. Donkey Kong

Mini-Mario is missing.

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screenshot from Mario vs. Donkey Kong

The September 2023 Nintendo Direct was packed with first-party surprises, and Mario vs. Donkey Kong was one of the most unexpected. A remake of a 2004 Game Boy Advance game, Mario vs. Donkey Kong puts a thoughtful twist on familiar Mario platforming and revives the age-old feud between plumber and giant tie-wearing ape.

Here’s everything we know about Mario vs. Donkey Kong ahead of its debut on Switch.

Is There a Mario vs. Donkey Kong Release Date?

Yes, and it’s not far off. Along with the game’s reveal, Nintendo announced that Mario vs. Donkey Kong is coming to Switch on February 16, 2024. That puts it ahead of Princess Peach: Showtime! which was revealed with a March 2024 release date at the Direct, and it will likely launch before Paper Mario and the Thousand-Year Door, which doesn’t have a release date yet.

Is There a Mario vs. Donkey Kong Trailer?

In typical Direct fashion, Nintendo showed off an informative first trailer for its upcoming game. The Mario vs. Donkey Kong trailer lays out how it will break from the Mario platformer formula and shows off a new multiplayer feature that wasn’t in the original.

What Is the Mario vs. Donkey Kong Story?

Story is never the main hook in a Mario game, but Mario vs. Donkey Kong has a pretty charming premise to get you into the action. As the Nintendo Direct trailer shows, the game starts with Donkey Kong getting infuriated that he can’t find a Mini-Mario toy and deciding to steal the entire lot from the factory. So at least the Mushroom Kingdom’s princesses get a break from being kidnapped this time. That sets the stage for each of Mario vs. Donkey Kong’s levels, in which Mario (who’s also a toy factory magnate for some reason) has to retrieve his stolen toys.

What Is Mario vs. Donkey Kong Gameplay Like?

At first glance, Mario vs. Donkey Kong’s levels look like what you’d find in a typical Mario game, but it actually plays much differently. Instead of navigating platforming challenges, you’ll need to use your brain to get by in the puzzle platformer Mario vs. Donkey Kong.

To progress through each level, you have to find a key that unlocks the door to the next stage. While there’s a fair deal of traditional platforming involved, puzzling out the way to get each key is the real test. Each level has multiple switches that turn on and off certain platforms, along with obstacles and enemies that you generally can’t avoid with good reflexes alone. Getting the key and exiting each stage means figuring out how to open up the correct route and snag your prize. Enemies that populate each level aren’t just there to stop you — you’ll sometimes need to stand on their heads to reach a higher platform or, as the trailer shows, hitch a ride on their tail to pass over a spike pit.

Mario vs. Donkey Kong tests your puzzle-solving skills more than your reflexes.


Like any other Mario game, Mario vs. Donkey Kong also includes boss battles that pit the two titular stars against each other directly. Even in these boss stages, puzzles take center stage, as you’ll need to find clever ways to damage Donkey Kong or stay safe from his attacks.

As revealed by the Nintendo Direct trailer, the Switch version of Mario vs. Donkey Kong also introduces local multiplayer. With that feature, a friend can join your game as Toad to provide support for puzzles.

Can I Preorder Mario vs. Donkey Kong?

Nintendo hasn’t announced any preorder bonuses or special editions for Mario vs. Donkey Kong, which isn’t too unusual given that it’s not one of the publisher’s biggest titles.

However, it is available to preorder now in a digital edition on the Nintendo eShop and a physical edition from retailers.

Mario vs. Donkey Kong comes to Nintendo Switch on February 16, 2024.

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