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
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.
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.
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.