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Mario vs. Donkey Kong offers more Mario making

The buzz surrounding Mario Maker appears to be well-earned — but it isn’t the only new Mario title on the E3 floor with robust creation tools. Mario vs. Donkey Kong features a suite of level design tools that feel just as intuitive — and deep — as what we've seen of Mario Makers'.

I was able to get hands-on time with Mario vs. Donkey Kong at Nintendo’s booth on the E3 show floor. It’s an action puzzle game much in the mold of the older Mario vs. Donkey Kong titles, with an emphasis on the new level editor and sharing features.

I played an early stage, which forced me to think creatively, guiding my Mario wind-up toys towards a goal. In the Mario and Donkey Kong games, you don’t control the characters directly, you manipulate the environment by connecting "girders" to make a path for your wind-ups. The design was clever, tricky enough to feel challenging and provide a quick hit of "a-ha."

But the real highlight of the demo was my time with the level editor. I popped into a template, and was immediately able to start designing a masterpiece. Within seconds, I was dragging pipes, girders, characters and obstacles onto the 2D grid, creating a massive gauntlet of a puzzle. Everything felt smooth and intuitive.

Nintendo is promising robust sharing features, so that players can easily play and rate creations from around the community. During my session, the demonstrator mentioned a star system for players to rate and share.

There’s no specific date for Mario vs. Donkey Kong (or a final title), but Nintendo has slated it for a 2015 release on Wii U.

The next level of puzzles.

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