Mario vs Donkey Kong Tipping Stars for the Wii U and 3DS is one of Nintendo’s first attempts at a game that is cross-platform.  No, this doesn’t mean cross-platform like releasing their games on a Sony or Microsoft system, this is just cross-platform between one of their consoles and handhelds.  It’s a step in the right direction and I hope Nintendo plans to incorporate this into their strategy moving forward.

Right off the bat, Tipping Stars goes back to basics with its gameplay.  For those who played 2013’s Minis on the Move, Tipping Stars will be quite different.  Minis on the Move used more of a 3D viewpoint for its levels while Tipping Stars goes back to the 2D platforming levels of past titles.  For me, this is a very welcome change.  Not only has Tipping Stars returned to the core gameplay of Mario vs. Donkey Kong games, but it excels at mixing up the formula.  One of the newest gameplay mechanics is the tipping system which is where the name ‘Tipping Stars’ comes from.  Players can create their own levels and share them online with players around the world on both the 3DS and the Wii U.  If a player likes a particular level, they can ‘tip’ the creator a certain amount of stars.  It’s a fun way of rating levels and those stars can be used by the creator to purchase lots of new items and building materials.  These new items are provided in the in-game shop and range from conveyor belts to Kong cannons and even different backgrounds/environments.  There are a lot of customization options to create some pretty wild levels.  Some players may be intimidated by creating levels from the ground up but Nintendo has provided various templates to get you started. 

Tipping Stars has 8 levels spread across 10 different worlds and there are Bonus levels that can be unlocked as well.  If you add those 80+ levels with the player-generated levels, there will be plenty to keep players interested in Tipping Stars for years to come.  For veterans of the series, there are plenty of new items, pitfalls, and strategies to warrant a purchase.  Add to the fact that if you purchase either version (Wii U or 3DS), you’ll get the other version for free!  It’s a great incentive but there is one caveat.  The games do not share saved data between them.  For instance, if you finish half of the levels on the Wii U and want to pick up where you left off on the 3DS, you’ll have to start from the beginning.  Nintendo doesn’t really have a cloud-based save system in place yet so the benefits of cross-buy fall a little flat in my eyes.

Visually, the game has beautiful animations on both the 3DS and Wii U versions.  One fault I had with the 3DS version is the lack of stereoscopic 3D support.  The game has a 2D perspective, but some 3D depth could have easily been added to the levels.  As it stands now, I’ve spent a lot more time with the Wii U version since it has the beautiful HD visuals and the larger Wii U GamePad screen size is a plus over the 3DS’ touch screen.

The sharing and customization options in Tipping Stars are where the game shines brightest.  There are unlockable Miiverse stamps and being able to share and download new levels is a huge plus for replayability.  If you’re in the market for a new puzzle game that’s very reminiscent of the old Lemmings series, you’ll have a blast with Tipping Stars.  While the cross-buy is a nice bonus, the inability to share save files between versions is less than ideal.