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Dr. Mario

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Reviewed by Ed Griffiths Way, way back when Dr. Mario first came out, I remember watching a TV report about how lots of parents were afraid that, in all seriousness, Dr. Mario would encourage children to go into the medicine cabinet and start eating pills at random. But times change, and now we're less worried about cute little harmless puzzle games and more worried about other things. So what is Dr. Mario? It's been called a Tetris clone, and it certainly *was* created in the time when Tetris was the hottest thing around. You've got a bottle full of viruses and Dr. Mario tosses two-colored pills inside. You flip and move the pills around as they fall, line up the viruses with the correct colored pills, and poof! The viruses vanish. Destroy all the viruses in the bottle, and the level is won. The levels are filled randomly each time, and the higher the level (you can select up to level 20 when you begin, but the game certainly continues higher), the more viruses there are to begin with. If the neck of the bottle gets blocked so no more pills fit in, it's Game Over. There's a two-player mode where doing many kills at once lets you rain garbage on your opponent. If you've played the NES version, you'll find this version to be almost perfectly faithful.

Graphics 3 out of 10

Even in its time, the graphics in this game were dull and flavorless. The viruses are little squirming specks, and the pills are unimaginative ovals and circles. Still, they did a good job of letting you tell the difference between the various colored viruses, which is important in a game based on color. But this isn't the kind of game that needs good looks to get by.

Music and Sound 8 out of 10

Fans of the NES original will be pleased to discover almost all of the music and sound effects from the original were ported to Game Boy intact. Like most puzzle games with selectable songs, it has a frantic tune (Fever) and a more mellow one (Chill) to help you set a mood. The sound effects let you know something happened without distracting you from the task at hand. This is good for puzzle games.

Game Challenge 8 out of 10

By selecting your level (1-20) and your speed (slow, normal, and fast), you can adjust the challenge to your liking. There's very easy levels for the beginners, big imposing levels for the pros, and lots in-between for people trying to pass some time rather than break some records. A very nice, wide range of challenges in this one.

Game Play-Fun 9 out of 10

Especially in the two-player mode, it's a blast to link together three or four "hits" in a row and hear the game reward you with little sound effects. It's like playing a pinball machine. And when you go head-to-head, the competition gets fierce as your opponent drops a black piece right on top of the spot where you were about to lay a white piece in order to drop pieces on *him*. It's crazy.

Frustration

The higher levels will be frustrating, but with such freedom to customize the game's difficulty, you should be able to have lots of fun without getting frustrated.

Replayability 10 out of 10

There's always that urge to play just one more game. It's like eating potato chips. You finish one level, and you can't wait until the next starts up. It's got that kind of addictive charm that just gets under your skin and takes you over.

Game Value 10 out of 10

This is simply one of the best Tetris-like games out there, and it's old, so you'll find it pretty cheap. It lacks any kind of real depth, but it's so addictive that you'll get a lot of use out of it anyway.

Overall A

While it never quite manages to get out of Tetris's shadow, Dr. Mario holds up pretty well to time. If it's cheap enough, get two so that you can play with someone else. The two-player mode simply cannot be forgotten.

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