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Dr. Mario (NES)

84
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3.9
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Pixelspeech (955)
Written on  :  Nov 02, 2011
Platform  :  NES
Rating  :  3.75 Stars3.75 Stars3.75 Stars3.75 Stars3.75 Stars

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Summary

Tetris leveled up!

The Good

I am a big fan of Tetris, it is one my most favorite time-sinks and back in the day you looked bad-ass playing it when in the bus. The game was very simple, you had to form lines using oddly shaped blocks, whenever a line was full it would disappear. I spent many hours playing this game on my old Gameboy and NES and beating the previous owner's highscore on my Nintendo Entertainment System is among one my most cherished moments in all my time as a video game enthusiast. Dr. Mario is on equal terms with the legendary game it is based on.

Instead of just mindlessly copying Tetris the goal has changed slightly, there is a number of colored viruses on the field that are removed when you stack similarly colored pills on them. The trick is that the pills have to sides with different colors and that the pills break in two if one side disappears. This can lead to difficult moments where completing one stack (4 colors) can lead to the wrong color falling on another block. It's a pretty nice variation on the original concept and it works very well.

The game gradually increases in difficulty as you finish levels, in this case by increasing the amount of viruses on the screen and locating them in challenging positions (such a pit created by a wall of other viruses. I must say that this is an improvement over the original's approach of just increasing the speed of the falling blocks because that made it nearly impossible to think about your moves in the later levels, but then again it didn't have the advantage of having blocks already placed in the game.

The Bad

The Mario license is not really apparent anywhere, to begin with there is no Princess Peach or Bowser anywhere in the game. They only character is Mario himself who apparently graduated with a PhD in Health sciences. It feels like a bit of a waste to stitch the name "Mario" to a game and then exclude everything that people recognize. Why couldn't the viruses be Goomba's or why couldn't there be patients in cut-scenes that resembled characters from the series (Peach, Toad, Luigi and etc.).

There is not a lot of settings you can change here, essentially you can tweak exactly the same as in Tetris, which makes it a bit of a waste of money. The problem is that if Tetris would have another game mode with blocks already placed in the levels, this game would be obsolete.

The Bottom Line

Tetris is fun and the only thing you need to do in order to make a good variation on the game is a good bit of creativity. Nintendo clearly had this and they managed to make an entertaining Tetris variant, that while needlessly possessing the Mario license, is a very entertaining and unique game. While the settings you can tweak are still the same, it's still clear that these are two different games that are both entertaining to play in their own way.

The game is a rather enjoyable puzzle game that both the kids and the older people will love, give it a try if you see a cheap copy somewhere. This is a purchase you won't regret.