#188 Dr. Mario

Posted: 8th March 2015 by Jeroen in Games
Tags: , , ,

408th played so far

Dr._Mario_box_artGenre: Puzzle
Platform: Various
Year of Release: 1990
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo

Sure, Mario has had many jobs through the years, but I suppose his employment as a doctor is probably more known to people through Super Smash Bros appearances than anyone who have played the game.

Even when playing Warioware today, we realised we had barely played it (this is because there is a minigame involving Dr Mario in the retro minigames section). Enough reason to bring it in today.

Our Thoughts

Dr. Mario is, when you look at it, not a very complicated game. Viruses are spread around the screen and you use pills falling from the skies to cure them, using colour-coded piles. It’s one of the many Tetris variants, which we’ve seen plenty of and will see more of, and this is (as so many of them) a very addictive one.

Because the game has a clear end of level condition (kill all the viruses) that allows you to move on, the levels feel more manageable than an infinite approach, with the randomization allowing for more interesting starting conditions. It escalates fairly rapidly, both in speed and number of viruses to deal with. What becomes the most interesting though as you get in further is how to get out of the difficult situations you get in – dealing with the messes of medicine that are of the wrong colour in the wrong place, and all of the ones you don’t need.

Agility plays a far larger role, as a badly placed block doesn’t just form part of a line, but all colours need to match as well. The controls are appropriately tight for it, making sure that you’re really left blaming yourself, not aiming it at the game.

All of this makes it more frustrating that the Mario branding feels… well, unnecessary. Other than a few static images, the plumber-turned-doctor plays no role in the game and all those bits could be replaced with anything. It feels very obviously a way to sell the game, rather than adding to the charm like the aforementioned Warioware games give.

Final Thoughts

This game is an entertainig puzzle, a decent predecessor showing what could happen with the block falling puzzles and how to move away from the Tetris formula. We’ll certainly pick it up again every once in a while – in fact, I’ve noticed Peter playing it again a couple of times (it is so very addictive). It might be a forgotten classic, almost part of the trivia “did you know Mario was a doctor?” set of things, but it’s good enough to be looked at occasionally. Perhaps something for a future Mario easter egg?