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Dr. Mario

aka: Virus
Moby ID: 6116
Game Boy Specs

Description official descriptions

In this Tetris-style game, you play as Dr. Mario, who must drop differently coloured pills onto viruses to remove them from the bottle. Each pill is split into two, with each side being of one of three different colours, red, blue or yellow. Align three pills of the same colour to a virus of the corresponding colour (or any combination of pills and viruses totaling four or more) and it will be removed from the bottle, along with the aligned pills. The level is cleared when there are no viruses left, and the game is over when the pills reach the top and Dr. Mario can't drop any more pills.

Included in the game is the normal mode, a time trial, and a two player battle mode to see who can remove the most viruses.


  • ドクターマリオ - Japanese spelling
  • 닥터 마리오 - Korean spelling

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Credits (NES version)

Designer (uncredited)
Composer (uncredited)
Producer (uncredited)



Average score: 76% (based on 37 ratings)


Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 125 ratings with 5 reviews)

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.

NES · by Asinine (957) · 2011

Everybody (especially Tetris fans) will find themselves addicted to this game in minutes.

The Good
This game has all the wonderful puzzle-solving and level-clearing action that the original Tetris had, and this is a quick addiction, so whenever you find a brief moment you will want to play this game. And the gameplay is so complicated, yet so simplistic, because it's just dropping colors onto colors (rather shades of gray) and yet it will take many weeks to master the science of pulling off combinations.

The Bad
The later levels (starting with Level 13 and going through 20) are practically impossible to beat, and it would be wise to just not attempt them. Also, the music grates on you, and playing this game for extended periods will cause your dreams to be full of that psycho MIDI and dropping pills onto bacteria.

The Bottom Line
This game is a Tetris clone modified by Nintendo to cater to a younger audience and with a Mario theme thrown in. This game has absolutely nothing to do with Mario or his compadres, but is one of those simple chain-reaction puzzlers that will have you clearing blocks in your mind far after your Game Boy has been shut off.

Game Boy · by pocketgamer2000 (20) · 2003

A classic puzzle game which still remains enjoyable today

The Good
Dr. Mario is a game which is extremely easy to pick up and play. The gameplay and controls are simple enough that anyone can learn to play with minimal effort. As far as sound is concerned, the effects are nothing spectacular, but not obstructive to gameplay either. However, the music, in my opinion, is brilliant. There are two songs included, Fever and Chill, which are very catchy and fit the frantic puzzle action of the game well. Finally, the inclusion of a two-player vs. mode is very welcomed as well.

The Bad
Mario storylines are supposed to be...different, but the story line behind Dr. Mario seemed stranger than usual and rushed, as there is only half of a page addressing the story line in the manual. Granted it's a puzzle game and the story is not a huge part of the gameplay, but I still would have liked a little more depth to the story. Also, the graphics are nothing amazing, but, on the other hand, they really don't need to be. Finally, while part of the charm of this game stems from its simplistic gameplay, this leads to its drawback of quickly becoming somewhat repetitive.

The Bottom Line
Dr. Mario is a puzzle game in which your objective is to kill all of the viruses in a jar. The viruses come in three colors (red, blue, and yellow) as do the pills which are used to kill the viruses. The pills contain two "sections" which allows for either a pill with two of the same colors or two different colors. A horizontal or vertical line of 4 or more "sections" of the same color will cause the line to disappear. So, one must strategically place the falling pills in line with the like-colored virus in order to kill it. If the jar is filled with pills and there are still viruses present, then it is game over.

NES · by Jon Collins (24) · 2004

[ View all 5 player reviews ]


1001 Video Games

Dr. Mario appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.


  • Game Informer
    • August 2001 (Issue #100) - #76 in the "Top 100 Games of All Time" poll

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Kartanym.

Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, Arcade added by Michael Cassidy. Nintendo Switch added by Kam1Kaz3NL77. Game Boy Advance, SNES added by gamewarrior.

Additional contributors: PCGamer77, Guy Chapman, monkeyislandgirl, Игги Друге, Patrick Bregger, Michael Cassidy, Rik Hideto, FatherJack.

Game added April 3rd, 2002. Last modified September 18th, 2023.