Game Review: Dr. Mario
Dr. Mario

Dr Mario Title Screen

  • Publisher Nintendo
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Released: October 1990
  • Game Type: Puzzle
  • Players: 1 or 2 [Sim]
  • Product Number: NES-VU-USA
  • Rarity: D (Common)
    Game Ratings:
    OVERALL: 9

    Box Scan
    Dr Mario Screen 1 Dr Mario Screen 2

    This is the first in a long line of puzzle games staring Mario and friends. After the success of Tetris on the NES and Game Boy as well as the continues success of the Mario Bros franchise, Nintendo apparenly decided place their famous mascot in a series of puzzle games that follows the Tetris pattern but sports its own features.

    In this title our pal Mario has apparently given up his plumbing practice and entered the field of medicene. Well Doctor Mario was working in the Mushroom Kingdom Hospital one day when he got a report that a group of viruses started running amok. Dr. Mario has invented some capsules containing medicene that can eradicate the viruses. Let's see if he indeed has the cure, as the TV commercials says.

    This game has two modes of play. In the one-player mode, you're presented with a bottle containing a certain amount of red, blue and yellow viruses that are randomly spread out in the bottle, and it's your job to clear them out. During the game Dr. Mario sits in the upper-right corner and constantly tosses capsules into the bottle that you must use to eliminate the viruses. The capsules each have two segments and come in various combinations of red, yellow and blue. As each capsule falls into the bottle, you must move and rotate them to line up the colors with the germs (i.e. line up a red segment with a red germ). A vertical column or hroizontal row of at least four same-colored capsules and/or germs will disappear. With luck, you can maneuver capsules to cause chain-reactions (clearing out multiple lines and viruses at once). Clear out all the bugs, and you can proceed to the next level. However with each passing level, the viruses will increase in number and if you take too long in each screen the level speeds up. However, keep making mismatches and the capsules will keep piling up. If bottle fills up to the top, it's game over and the viruses laugh at you. Before you begin each game you can select your starting level (up to Level 20) and pick from three gameplay speeds.

    The second mode is a 2-player versus mode, which works that same as the one-player mode with a few differences. The screen now shows two sets of bottles, each with viruses, and the object is to be the first player to clear your bottle before the other person does. The gameplay is the same; virus drop into your bottle and you still use them to wipe out the bugs. However this version features a way to attack your opponent: if one player makes a chain-reaction, random pieces will fall on the other player's bottle, oftentimes where they don't want it. A player wins by either clearing their bottle first or their opponent's bottle overfills. The player who wins three out of five contests is the champion. Also before each contest both players can choose different levels or speeds to set up handicaps.

    Graphics & Sounds:
    There really isn't much to say about the graphics. You just get the same layout over and over, with Mario, the bottle and the viruses in the corner. The viruses do have cute animation, especially when you make a match and they throw a fit. The game's audio is also simple but sufficient. You have a choice of two background themes, both of which are pretty catchy, and the sounds effects are decent as well, such as the thump of the capsules landing.

    Dr. Mario uses the same setup as Tetris; one button rotates the capusle one way, the other buttion flips it the other way, and holding Down on the D-pad makes the capsule fall faster. The controls are very easy to use and are pretty responsive, enabling you to pull off some quick moves.

    Challenge & Playability:
    Like most puzzle games, Dr. Mario excells in the gameplay department. The gameplay is simple but very easy to get into and very addictive. Even if you lose, somehow the game compels you to try again. Also since there's no pattern to the placement of the viruses and since the capsules speed up after a certain amount of time means you'll have to constantly adjust your strategy, giving you a different experience each time you fire up the cartridge. It also challenges you to come up with chain-reaction combs for big points. In addition, the ability to choose your starting level and speed makes it easy to customize the game for any challenge level, and the three speeds each provide a good experience; Low speed is great for beginners, Medium speed is great for more experienced gamers, and High speed will definitely give you a workout, especially in the later levels when the pills are really flying. The two-player mode is also very fun to play.

    All in all Dr. Mario proves to be another top-notch puzzler in the NES library. Nintendo did an excellent job building on the Tetris formula with its own added touches, and it has enough addicting action that will have you constantly coming back for more. This is one doctor that you should definetely make an appointment with.

    - Review posted on February 15, 2008