Dr. Mario
Box Shot
Dr. Mario
Platform: NES
Publisher: Nintendo
Designer: Nintendo
Genre: Puzzle
Players: 2 (Simultaneous)
Published Date 1991
Reviewed by: Adam King

When Tetris was released, it became a big hit. I guess Nintendo decided to carry over that successful formula in a game featuring another successful character: Mario. This was the first of the Mario-puzle games, and it seems to have started the trend very well, having also been ported over to the Game Boy and a Super NES 2-in-1 pak.

There's a story in the manual about how three types of viruses are spreading out of control, and Dr. Mario has invented capsules to counteract the infention. This doesn't show up in the game, just the manual, so it can be easily forgotten.

The options screen lets you pick out your level (up to Level 20), three types of speeds, and two types of music).The screen layout in each level is the bottle with all the viruses in the center, as well as Dr. Mario and a close-up of the three viruses, which come in red, yellow, and blue. The capsules, which are two-segmented, come in combinations of red, yellow, and blue. The object of each level is to clear out the viruses from the bottle. Dr. Mario constantly tosses in capsules, and you must control them and line up the colors with the germs (i.e. line up a red segment with a red germ). You need to match up four of the same colored objects (capsules and/or viruses) in a horizontal or vertical formation for it to disappear. Wilh luck, you cac maneuver capsules to cause chain-reactions (clearing out multiple lines at once). Clear out all the bugs, and you can proceed to the next level. With each passing level, the viruses will increase in number. However, keep making mismatches and the capsules will keep piling up. If bottle fills up to the top, it's game over.

This game also marks the origin of the two-player versus mode. The screen shows two sets of bottles, each with viruses. The object is to be the first one to clear your bottle. If one player makes a chain-reaction, random pieces will fall on the other player's bottle, sometimes where they don't want it. A player also wins if the other bottle overfills. Three wins out of five is the object here.

The graphics, like Tetris, aren't too advanced. Dr. Mario and the viruses have great animations, you always see the same thing throughout the game, and it hardly changes. The sound is alright, with two types of music, but soon recycles too much. The controls are alright, the exact same layout at Tetris (one button rotates one way, the other the other way). This game also has good challenge. As I said, you get to choose your starting level, and the viruses multiply the farther you get in the game. Plus you get to choose your speed.

If you like Tetris, then you'll like Dr. Mario. This game may not have super graphics and sounds, but the main part is that it's just fun, wheter alone of with a friend, and it tries not to be too similar to Tetris (unlike other games) while taking it farther.