The puzzle-based gameplay in Mini-Land Mayhem is built upon that of earlier Mario vs. Donkey Kong titles, in which the objective of each level is to lead a number of mechanical Mini-Mario toys to the exit.
In the game's opening sequence, Mario and Pauline are sponsoring the grand opening of an amusement park named "Mini-Land". Donkey Kong is the 101st visitor to arrive to the amusement park, and is denied the gift given to the first hundred visitors: a "Mini-Pauline" toy. Infuriated, Donkey Kong kidnaps the real Pauline, prompting Mario, accompanied by toys called Mini-Marios, to give chase aboard a train. Mario and the toys then battle with Donkey Kong at various locations throughout the amusement park. After Donkey Kong has been defeated and Pauline rescued, Mario presents him with a Mini-Pauline toy, which satisfies the ape.
Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem! has received generally positive reviews and holds a rating of 79 on Metacritic, based on 51 reviews. The New York Post gave it an A grade saying: “This the most awesome, challenging, and addictive game that has ever graced my DSiXL's screen". New York Daily News says that you can't go wrong with Mini-Land Mayhem.The Guardian says the game is a "creamy, comforting slice of puzzle-platforming bliss," and gives high praise to the level design.