Donkey Kong Wiki
Mario vs. Donkey Kong
North American boxart of the game Mario vs. Donkey Kong for GBA.
Developer(s) Nintendo Software Technology[1]
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Main Development Staff {{{devteam}}}
Platform(s) Game Boy Advance
Release Date(s) USA May 24, 2004
Japan June 1, 2004
Europe November 19, 2004
Genre(s) Platformer, Puzzle
Ratings ESRB: ESRB E Everyone
Mode(s) Single player
Media(s) GBA Game Pak
Input(s) GBA Buttons

Mario vs. Donkey Kong is a puzzle/platformer game developed by Nintendo and released on May 24, 2004 for the Game Boy Advance. It is a spiritual successor to Donkey Kong '94, using similar mechanics introduced in the said game. As the title suggests, the game stars Mario and Donkey Kong.

The game is the first one in the Mario vs. Donkey Kong series. It also possesses many sequels, including the games: Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis, Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again!, Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem!, Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move, Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars and Mini Mario & Friends: Amiibo Challenge.

A remake of this game for the Nintendo Switch was released on February 16, 2024.


The game's story starts with Donkey Kong watching TV. As he flicks through the channels, he sees an ad about the Mini Mario toys. He is disgusted with them but, still, Donkey Kong gets the urge to collect all of them. He goes to the Toy Store, but they are sold out. Donkey Kong turns around and sees the Mario Toy Company and decides to loot the store of all of the toys. Eventually, Donkey Kong checks his bag, only to see all the Mini Marios he stole have dropped, with Mario, the toys, and three Toad employees laughing at him. In anger, he grabs the Toads, climbs the building. Mario must rescue the Toad employees and fight Donkey Kong. However, he must make his way through the six worlds to get to the battle on the top of the building. After the fight, he falls off onto a truck full of Mini Marios, and steals five more. Mario gives chase once again, until a similar cutscene of the one before the defeat, but only Mario laughs, until six Mini Marios come out. In the final scene, Mario is scolding Donkey Kong for what he did. Donkey Kong is crying in pity and shame. The plumber cheers him up by letting him have a Mini Mario. The Mini Marios and Mario cheer with Mario's mission successfully done.


Each of the game's six worlds is divided into eight levels. For the first six levels within each world, Mario must find a key and open up a door to the second half of the level, which is a checkpoint. There, Mario will find the toy that Donkey Kong dropped. If Mario is defeated in the second half of the level, his points reset back to the way it was in the first half of the level. At the beginning of each level, there is short sequence showing what Mario needs to do or what he may face before playing the level. This short sequence also explains what moves Mario needs to use to complete the level, showing some button combinations.

Unlike other Super Mario games, when Mario takes a hit, he loses a life. He can also lose a life from getting squished and falling on from a great height and landing on his head. If the fall is not big enough, Mario may get stunned on his back instead. There is also a time limit, which is similar to the traditional Super Mario Bros. games; if the time limit is highlighted on 30 seconds, an alarm plays and Mario panics. If the time limit runs out, the screen will say "Time's Up!!" and Mario loses a life. When Mario grabs the key and opens a locked door, the remaining time in the first area will be added to the time limit in the second area.

Unlike the other Super Mario games, Mario has more moves besides jumping, such as handstands and backflips. To defeat enemies, Mario must pick up objects and throw them at enemies, reminiscent of Super Mario Bros. 2. Throughout the level, there are some collectibles that Mario can collect. Three are pivotal in earning a high score, which are different colored presents. Earning a high enough score, beating the default score, earns a star for that level. The stars later are used to unlock Expert levels.

Once Mario completes a level and collects enough presents, he can play a short minigame to earn extra lives. One present may have a 1-Up Mushroom, one may have a 2 UP, another may have a 3 UP, or a 5 UP, and one present may have a Donkey Kong head that gives zero lives; this is shown at the beginning of the minigame. One minigame is stopping a scrolling arrow on top of the desired present while the other has Mario swapping presents so Donkey Kong's fist squashes an undesired present.

The seventh level in each world is a Mini-Mario level. Mario leads the six Mini-Mario toys he collected back to their toy box; however, he must make sure they avoid obstacles along the way. This leads into a battle with Donkey Kong, with each Mini-Mario saved becoming a "hit point". For example, if Mario saves all six of the Mini-Mario toys, he'll be able to be hit six times by Donkey Kong before losing a life. If Mario runs out of time or loses all of his hit points, the player will lose a life and must restart the battle with Donkey Kong. If the player doesn't do the Mini-Mario level, Mario will start the fight with four hit points, and getting a Game Over will require Mario to replay the Mini-Mario level.

After Mario has beaten the six worlds and defeated Donkey Kong, six "Plus" Worlds are unlocked, numbered 1+, 2+, and so on. There are seven stages in each Plus Worlds, and there are no Mini-Mario levels. Mario must get to a Mini-Mario holding a key and lead it to the exit doorway. If either Mario or Mini-Mario is defeated, the player loses a life and must restart the level. There is only one part per level in the Plus Worlds, and they are designed to be more difficult than the main worlds. There are still Donkey Kong boss levels in the Plus Worlds. In those levels, the player always starts with six hit points and has 120 seconds to defeat Donkey Kong except in Donkey Kong Plus, where they have 300 seconds.

For the "Expert" levels, a certain number of stars collected by beating high scores are required to unlock levels. There are twelve Expert levels. Additionally, if the player leaves or restarts the level in any mode before they clear the level for the first time, they lose a life. If the level is already complete, the player will not lose a life when choosing to exit the level. However, the player will still lose a life if they retry the level, even if it is completed.

In the "Card-e+" levels, Mario starts off with infinite lives. There is no bonus game for collecting all the presents.




  • It is the first game to feature Donkey Kong as an antagonist to Mario, after replacing his grandfather, Cranky Kong, previously known as Donkey Kong Sr.

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