The Dr. Mario franchise has been around since the beginning of man, and even though it can't lay claim to many instalments, it has a justifiably rabid following. The man behind the white coat can be considered quite the fellow - he's a jack of all trades. But is he a master of none?
So he's played tennis, golf, baseball, basketball, has refereed (is that a sport?) and much more. He's been found in outer space, underwater, the jungle, the stars, castles, deserts and even Beijing. So to see him settle at a doctor's surgery is, initially, a little underwhelming. Strip away the characters, the well-known theme music, the Mii compatibility and the obligatory pointing-mode, however, and you still have a very solid puzzler. For all the doubters out there - think Tetris with a little more strategy. The basic premise is that you've got a bunch of viruses (coloured red, blue or yellow) sitting in an ambiguous receptacle and they need to be exterminated. You take them out with capsules also differentiated by their colours - a combination of red, blue or yellow. Making four same-coloured blocks touch will cause them to disappear, and if you've got a virus in that chain somewhere, it'll also disappear. Once all the nasties are gone, you've completed a level.
Of course, you can tweak your settings to control the speed at which the capsules fall, the number of viruses that appear in the aforementioned receptacle and even the music. Slap on some cheery, colourful menus and you've got a decent package. There's a multiplayer component to the game, however, and this is where you might find a bit more entertainment. Sit in front of your TV with a friend and you can go head-to-head, trying to clear the viruses before one another. There's also a mode called 'Flash' that rewards the targeting of specific flashing viruses. Arika, the developers, decided to add Wi-Fi support, allowing players to compete against anyone globally and friends alike. The much loved Friend Code system makes a return (yippee!) and they've even plonked up some online leaderboards. Playing online works as well as it could do, although without the necessary banter from the person sitting next to you, it can feel a little sparse. Pre-set communication allows you to sort out your game before a match and 'chat' about it afterwards, but it really reminds you how much you want to actually say words to your friend.
A pretty nifty feature of the Dr. Mario on Wii is the ability to send a demo of the game to a friend. They will then be able to play a match with you and decide for themselves whether or not to take the plunge. Of course, this means more friend code entering, but if your buddy chooses to buy the full game, their information remains the same - a nice touch within an otherwise clumsy system. The demo version is completely limited to playing with a friend, however - there is no option to play anything in single player mode nor is there an option to play online with a random opponent. We can understand the limitation, as frankly there'd not be much else to keep unrevealed if the single player option was available, but it makes you wonder how many people will decide against buying it because none of their friends have the full game.
Arika just keep giving, however, and have included a brand new mode in the game called 'Germ Buster,' a Wiimote driven version of the classic formula that gives you complete rule over the positioning of the falling capsules. You latch onto one with your pointer and manoeuvre it around the viruses to create chains in the same way as the classic version. This mode feels a little tacked on, and although it does a good job of freshening up the Dr. Mario experience, not much would be lost if it were not included. Well, maybe 6 or 7 blocks less of your dwindling download space, but that's all.
It's classic Dr. Mario, and not much more. It works like it should and doesn't do anything to shock you. The panic element, no matter how overused it has become, still works like a charm, however.
To expect a mind blowing graphical feast would be complete ignorance. There's no realism involved, and everything is bright and colourful. The graphics are nothing special, but that's not the point.
Difficult to score properly - there are some retro-tastic tunes to be found within the game, and yes, it is downloadable, but with only a small pool of music to listen to, the plinky plonky sound effects fail to compensate.
It's highly accessible in short bursts and provides a nice diversion from some of the heavier, life-draining titles on the market today. For 1,000 points, more substance, in any form, would have been nice though.
It's got all the components you could ever ask for in a Dr. Mario game, and the inclusion of Wi-Fi and Wiimote modes gives players a few decent options when approaching it. Nothing about the game immediately screams originality, and chances are you've played something similar to this on an older platform anyway, but for those who want a game that they can just chomp away at for 20 minutes, it certainly does its job. Don't expect tons of unlockables or side-quests and it's unlikely that you'll be disappointed.
Excellent review Ben.
I managed to get the demo from a friend and have played a couple of games with him. I've never played a Dr Mario game before and I'm not big on puzzle games, but I really enjoyed this. I feel it's a bit too expensive, in my opinion though.
The music is also great, I love the Fever Theme.
Nice one Ben, sounds better than I hoped! Have to find someone to try the demo out with. Fever theme rocks!
I didn't like the game n thought it was a bit tiresome but I guess for puzzle fans its okay. Cool lil review.
Does it have the \'Fever\' music? If so, nothing else matters; I\'m buying it. XD( Edited 31.05.2008 00:12 by Ikana )
Great, I'm buying it then. XD