Dr. Mario has been one of my favorite puzzle games for years now, so making a new one for WiiWare just seemed to make sense. Now that Nintendo is finally taking advantage of online gaming, Wii games with online gameplay seem to be what the doctor ordered. After all, if you love Dr. Mario, wouldn’t you love it even more if it offered online competition? The answer is yes, and that’s the key to understanding the value of this game.
Dr. Mario is the classic game where colored capsules drop into a container that has other pills and viruses. By dropping the right color around the viruses, you’ll end up killing them. But, how is this done? Well, you just make a horizontal or vertical combo of three or more pills of the same color as the virus, and it will disappear. You can move the pills with the D-Pad and rotate them with the push of a button, just like if you were playing Tetris. Most levels have several viruses; the higher the difficulty setting you choose, the more of them you’ll have to take care of. Also, you can vary the speed at which the pills drop, which can make the game insanely more challenging. This puzzler is definitely not easy, but if you like it, you’ll get used to it eventually and do a good job.
Dr. Mario RX Online has two main game modes: Dr. Mario and Virus Buster. In Dr. Mario, you’ll be able to play the classic mode, where the main objective is to kill the viruses in each level and advance to the next one. There’s also a Vs. CPU mode, where you compete against the machine. If you or the CPU kill more than one virus with a single move (chain), you’ll send little colored blocks to the opponent’s game board. This is a pain in the neck when, for example, you’re about to do your next blue combo and a yellow piece falls right on top of it and kills your strategy. You’ll then have to make a yellow combo before you can get rid of the blue pieces below. Also, most capsules are split in two colors, so it’s tough to complete a combo without messing up the surrounding lines or rows.
Flash mode is not as painful as the Vs. mode. The goal is to kill the viruses in your container before the enemy does. No one sends extra blocks to the opponent here, so you have a better chance to do things right. Virus Buster mode is a bit more gimmicky. Here you can strategically place the falling capsules by pointing at them with the Wii Remote and holding the A or B button to drag them. Both the game layout and the pills are much bigger than in the other game modes; this makes it easier to see, but somehow more difficult to play. This one is also just single-player.
None of these game modes are especially appealing if you already own Dr. Mario for another system. Unfortunately, I have to admit I found more disappointment than joy after I downloaded and played this game. I remember the good old times when I was very addicted to Dr. Mario and played it on a handheld. Those times have come and gone though, and Dr. Mario is still the same. Like I said before, the key to this game is the brand new online gameplay.
You can connect to Nintendo WFC and battle against other people from around the world in the standard Classic or Flash modes. You’ll get points if you win or lose them if you are defeated. The ranking system lets you see where you’re at, and the amount of points and victories the top 10 players (and your friends) have. Overall, there’s not much to this game – no ranked matches, only two online game modes, typical friend code system, etc. Oftentimes, you’ll face very good players and won’t stand a chance against them. To tell you the truth, you’ll probably enjoy an online Super Smash Bros. battle or a Mario Kart Wii race much more. Even so, if you don’t know what time it is anymore and your eyes are red from playing Dr. Mario, you’re probably a great candidate to go online and battle it out against real-life adversaries.
Despite the slick overall presentation of the game, there isn’t much innovation to the actual gameplay, and the desire to play wears off quickly. The game visuals are attractive, but very minimalistic. You’ll know you’re playing an authentic Nintendo Wii game as soon as you see the white beveled buttons of the menu interface as well as the geometrical shapes, circles, stripes, and the blue theme. Everything looks very slick and colorful, and the addition of Miis is a great touch.
The simplicity of the presentation is fine with me, but I didn’t enjoy the scarcity in terms of gameplay and soundtrack. There are only four “songs” to choose from, and they’re not even real songs; they’re more like MIDI melodies you will end up loathing with a passion, unless you enjoy being tortured. The high pitch of the music themes gave me a headache and made my ears want to shrink. If you’re worried about missing the classic Dr. Mario theme, don’t worry though; it’s there too and sounds pretty cool. It’s perhaps the best choice out of the four, although it also hurt my ears.
Now that you’ve read everything about this game, the rest is up to you. If you REALLY love Dr. Mario and are interested in playing it online, this will be a purchase worthwhile. If you’re not so sure about how you feel towards the classic puzzler, you could easily be disappointed by this game download. The lack of innovation, strident music themes, and shortage in terms of gameplay could make the $10 difficult to swallow. Your money is probably better spent in other WiiWare games like LostWinds.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.5 Graphics
The visuals are slick but mostly unimpressive. The use of Miis makes a difference. 4.0 Control
Classic and simple controls work well. Wii Remote controls (Virus Buster mode) are easy to handle as well, though not as intuitive. 2.6 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Classic and simple controls work well. Wii Remote controls (Virus Buster mode) are easy to handle as well, though not as intuitive. 3.6
This game will be fun for those who enjoy challenging puzzles, but overall it doesn’t feel like a very generous remake. Online gameplay is the main reason to buy it again.
3.4 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.