FAQ by Ryan Harrison

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    FAQ by Ryan Harrison

    Version: 1.00 | Updated: 07/01/13 | Search Guide | Bookmark Guide

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    Dr. Mario (Game Boy) FAQ
    • Version: 1.00
    • Last Updated: 1 July 2013
    • Author: Ryan Harrison
    • Email: rjhgamefaqs[at]gmail.com

    This document is Copyright ©2013-2015 Ryan Harrison. All rights reserved.

    Version History

    Version 1.00 | 1 July 2013
    • The first, complete posted version of this FAQ.


    Hello and welcome to my FAQ for Dr. Mario on the Game Boy. This FAQ is designed to basically cover all you need to know and understand how to play and beat Dr. Mario. This popular puzzler is one of the many 'dropping block' style games that was released in the wake of the mega-hit Tetris. Also available on the NES back in the day, this 1990 title sees you take control of Dr. Mario, and the objective is to throw coloured medicine pills into the area and line up 4 colours in a vertical or horizontal row in order to wipe out viruses of the same colour. By wiping out all the viruses, you beat an area before moving onto the next one, in which more viruses appear for you to deal with. With adjustable speeds and virus levels, this makes for a frantic and addictive puzzle game to take on the go!


    My name is Dr. Mario

    Hi everybody! I'm Mario. How's it going? Over the last few years, I've been involved in some pretty wild adventures. Now, believe it or not, I work in the virus research lab at the Mushroom Kingdom Hospital. Today I'm about to begin my research as usual.

    "Dr. Mario, something terrible has happened!"

    "What's wrong, nurse Toadstool?"

    "One of the experiments has gone out of control. The viruses are spreading quickly!"

    "Oh No! We've got to do something! I have just developed a new vitamin that should be able to take care of it. I sure hope this stuff works!"


    D-Pad - DownHold to drag pills down to the bottom of the screen faster
    D-Pad - Left/RightMove pills over in those directions
    SelectChoose between game modes on the Title Screen
    StartBegin the game from the Title Screen
    Pause the game during play; resume game when paused
    ARotate pill 90 degrees clockwise
    BRotate pill 90 degrees anti-clockwise

    Title Screen

    First off, starting up a new game will take you to the Title Screen, from which you can choose to play either a 1 PLAYER GAME or a 2 PLAYER GAME. Both these modes should be pretty explanatory enough: in a 1 PLAYER GAME, you make your selections and then play Dr. Mario. In a 2 PLAYER GAME, this will require both players to have a Game Boy, copy of Dr. Mario, and a Link Cable to connect the two systems together. Both players can adjust their settings to their own preferences. In a 2 Player Game, the first player to wipe out all the viruses in their medicine bottle wins, and a crown appears at the side of the screen as a result of their victory. The first player to earn three crowns wins the game outright.


    This is what appears on-screen once you select a 1 PLAYER GAME from the Title Screen. From here you can make your settings as you wish; beneath the diagram I will give a quick rundown of all the options available:

                              | .---------------------. |
                              | |    1 PLAYER GAME    | |
                              | |                     | |
                              | |  ,-----------.      | |
                              | | ( VIRUS LEVEL )     | |
                              | |  `-----------'      | |
                              | | YOU V            00 | |
                              | |     |++|++|++|++|   | |
                              | |                     | |
                              | |  ,-----.            | |
                              | | ( SPEED )           | |
                              | |  `-----' ___        | |
                              | | YOU      `.'        | |
                              | |     LOW  MED  HI    | |
                              | |                     | |
                              | |  ,-----.            | |
                              | | ( MUSIC )           | |
                              | |  `-----'            | |
                              | | FEVER   CHILL   OFF | |
                              | '---------------------' |
    VIRUS LEVEL (00 - 20)The VIRUS LEVEL is generally the amount of viruses that will start out on the screen when you begin the game. While you have this option highlighted, you can hold Left or Right on the D-Pad to slide the marker along the scale, and change the number that appears on the right-hand side. On the lowest level, 00, 4 viruses start off on the screen; while on the highest, 20, you start out with a whopping 84 viruses to deal with. For a table of the amount of viruses that start out on each level, see the Basics section of this FAQ.
    SPEED (LOW/MED/HI)Basically, this is how slowly/quickly the pills will start to drop down once Dr. Mario has thrown them into the medicine bottle:
    LOWThey drop down at the slowest pace, giving you more time to work out where to position them, thus making it easier, and therefore an ideal choice for beginner players.
    MEDThis is the medium pace at which the pills fall, as well as the default SPEED setting. In general, this is the 'Normal' or 'Average' difficulty for the average player.
    HIFor the more experienced Dr. Mario player - in this setting the pills drop at a quick rate, so you'll need to think and plan your moves in advance!
    MUSIC (FEVER/CHILL/OFF)By highlighing this and pressing Left or Right, you can choose what music you would like to play in the background while you play the main game itself. FEVER is a fast-paced, high-adrenaline and motivational BGM, while CHILL is a more mellow and relaxed beat. Or, you can choose to have the music switched OFF.

    Game Screen

    This is what the main screen, which you play on, looks like and a rundown of what you see on here:

                    |         ________         .--------------.   |
                    |  ________)____(________  |  S C O R E   |   |
                    | |                      | |            0 |   |
                    | |                      | '--------------'   |
                    | |                      | .----------. .-.   |
                    | |                      | |       O  | |M|   |
                    | |                      | |(#|@) -+- | |E|   |
                    | |                      | |      / \ | |D|   |
                    | |                      | '----------' '-'   |
                    | |                      |.-----[=====]-----. |
                    | |                      ||+----'-----'----+| |
                    | |                      |||   L E V E L   || |
                    | |                      |||           0 0 || |
                    | |                      |||   V I R U S   || |
                    | |                      |||           0 4 || |
                    | |                      ||+---------------+| |
                    | |                      |'-----------------' |
                    | |                      | .---------------.  |
                    | |                      | |(O_O)(*_*)(>_<)|  |
                    | |______________________| '---------------'  |

    Bottle: Takes up most of the space on the left-hand side of the screen. A certain amount of viruses of up to three different colours start in various locations in here, and Dr. Mario throws medicine pills into this area, where you control the direction of their movement and line them up against viruses of the same colour to eliminate them.

    Current Score: Shown in the top-right corner of the screen, this is the score that has been reached so far in your current sitting of Dr. Mario. This increases as you eliminate viruses and get combos, and for winning levels.

    Dr. Mario: Seen on the right-hand side of the screen, Dr. Mario is holding the next two-sided coloured pill that he will throw into the medicine bottle once the one that is currently in there has settled.

    Speed: Shown to the right of Dr. Mario, this is the current game speed setting: LOW, MED, or HI.

    Virus Level (LEVEL ##): Pretty self-explanatory; the level of the game you are currently playing. This can be selected from 00 - 20 at the Options Screen, and the amount of Viruses that start in the bottle goes up by 4 for every Virus Level you beat.

    # of Viruses in the Bottle (VIRUS ##): How many viruses currently remain in the bottle that must be eliminated to clear the level.

    Virus Level Table

    The 'Virus Level' that you pick at the beginning of the game will have a certain number of viruses. Every tieme you beat a Virus Level in the game, it goes up by one (e.g. from Virus Level 04 to 05), and the number of viruses that start out in the bottle also goes up by 4. Here, in this table, is the amount of viruses that start out in the bottle for each Virus Level respectively:

    Virus LevelNumber of Viruses

    General Gameplay/Hints & Tips

    Dr. Mario tosses double-ended medicine capsules into the medicine bottle, one at a time. A level is won when all viruses are eliminated, but if pills are stacked up to the very top of the bottle and all viruses have not been defeated, you lose and will have to restart the level again.

    The capsules that Dr. Mario tosses into the medicine bottle have two ends. There are three colours of pills that will wipe out viruses of the same colour if 4 colours are lined up in a row, vertically or horizontally. You can get pills that have the same colour on either end, or pills with two different colours. Here are the possible colour combinations you can get:

                            .-----.     .-----.     .-----.
                           ( BP|BP )   ( BP|GP )   ( BP|WP )
                            '-----'     '-----'     '-----'
                            .-----.     .-----.     .-----.
                           ( GP|GP )   ( GP|BP )   ( GP|WP )
                            '-----'     '-----'     '-----'
                            .-----.     .-----.     .-----.
                           ( WP|WP )   ( WP|BP )   ( WP|GP )
                            '-----'     '-----'     '-----'
    BP = Black Pill
    GP = Grey Pill
    WP = White Pill

    When Dr. Mario has flipped a pill into the bottle, you can rotate it clockwise or anti-clockwise.

    • With the A button, the pill flips clockwise 90 degrees every time you press the button. For example:
                                      .--.                 .--.
                          .-----.     |BP|     .-----.     |WP|
                         ( BP|WP ) -> |--| -> ( WP|BP ) -> |--|
                          '-----'     |WP|     '-----'     |BP|
                                      '--'                 '--'
    • Conversely, with the B button, pills rotate anticlockwise, like so:
                                      .--.                 .--.
                          .-----.     |WP|     .-----.     |BP|
                         ( BP|WP ) -> |--| -> ( WP|BP ) -> |--|
                          '-----'     |BP|     '-----'     |WP|
                                      '--'                 '--'

    The most basic way of eliminating a single virus at a time would be to have it as part of a vertical or horizontal line of four of the same colour.

                         Vertically...   ...or Horizontally.
                                             (   These four   )
                                             ( colours vanish )
                                              /              \
                          .-----.         .-----.  .-----. .--.
                       / ( BP|GP )       ( GP|BP )( BP|BP )|BV|
                      |   '-----'         '-----'  '-----' '--'
       (   These )    |   .--.
       (    four )    |   |BP|
       ( colours ) --<    |--|
       (  vanish )    |   |BP|
                      |   '--'
                      |   .--.
                       \  |BV|
    BP = Black Pill
    BV = Black Virus
    GP = Grey Pill

    Next, try to see if you can wipe out multiple viruses together at the same time. For more points and to clear the area quicker, you can pull off combos, which comes in handy especially if you have alternate-coloured pills. For example, if you drop in a Black/White Pill and drop the Black end onto three other Black colours to make four, all the Blacks disappear, and the White part will remain on-screen, and continue to fall (although it cannot be moved left or right). If you position the pills correctly, you could even make it land on top of three other Whites to wipe them out too! Here's a basic example:

                               / ( BP|WP )
                              |   '-----'           | ( The White Pill falls from )
               (   These )    |   .--.              | ( its original location and )
               (    four )    |   |BP|              | ( drops onto the stacked    )
               ( colours ) --<    |--|              | ( White Pills and White     )
               (  vanish )    |   |BP|              | ( Virus                     )
                              |   '--'              V
                              |   .--.            .--.
                               \  |BV|            |WP| \
                                  '--'       ->   '--'  |
                                     .--.         .--.  |    ( These   )
                                     |WP|         |WP|  |    ( four    )
                                     |--|         |--|   >-- ( colours )
                                     |WP|         |WP|  |    ( vanish  )
                                     '--'         '--'  |
                                     .--.         .--.  |
                                     |WV|         |WV| /
                                     '--'         '--'

    It's also possible to even move pills under viruses to squeeze them into tight gaps, and even flipping them to make one end squeeze into a narrow gap is possible! For example:

                .--.   |    As the White Pill drops          .--.
                |WV|   |    down between the two             |WV| \
                '--'   V    White Viruses, quickly           '--'  |
                     .--.   press Left on the D-Pad          .--.  |    ( These   )
                  <- |WP|   to make it slide into the        |WP|  |    ( four    )
                     |--|   gap between them and this   ->   |--|   >-- ( colours )
                  <- |WP|   makes a row of four              |WP|  |    ( vanish  )
                     '--'   colours, like so...              '--'  |
                .--.                                         .--.  |
                |WV|                                         |WV| /
                '--'                                         '--'

                      |    As the White/Grey pill
                      V    comes down, quickly
                .--..--.   press A to rotate the
                |WV||GP|   pill clockwise and press
                '--'|--|   Left to squeeze the
                    |WP|   White end of the pill
                    '--'   into the gap between the
                .--.       White Virus at the top,
                |WP|       and the White Pills and
                |--|       White Virus underneath...
                              .--.     ...and this makes a line
                           /  |WV|     of five colours. All five
                          |   '--'     are wiped out altogether.
                          |   .-----.
                          |  ( WP|GP )
           (   These )    |   '-----'
           (    five )    |   .--.
           ( colours ) --<    |WP|
           (  vanish )    |   |--|
                          |   |WP|
                          |   '--'
                          |   .--.
                           \  |WV|
    BP = Black Pill
    BV = Black Virus
    GP = Grey Pill
    WP = White Pill
    WV = White Virus

    A few other random little tips...

    • The medicine bottle itself is 8 blocks wide by 15 blocks high.
    • On the lower difficulty settings when there are one or two viruses left to wipe out, you may get a few pills with colours that will be of no use. It's best to just stash these away against the sides of the jar until you get the colour(s) you need to finish the last few viruses off. You only need to destroy the viruses left to beat a level, so you won't need to bother with making combinations of four colours with pills only - unless you need to create some space.
    • While four colours in a row is the standard to make pills and viruses vanish, it is possible to make longer lines. You can make up to a maximum of 8 of the same colour go at once - if, say, you squeezed a pill with the same colours on either end between two lots of three colours.
    • Once you start to reach the more advanced Virus Levels, it's time to be a little more strategic and look for potential combos or ways of wiping out two colours at once. Look at the next pill Dr. Mario is about to throw in, and look for potential viruses to wipe out or combos to attain.
    • Remember, to save time you can hold Down on the D-Pad to drag the pills down to the bottom faster. However, it might also be worth keeping in mind that if you've still got plenty of viruses to take out, you could move it over the area where you plan to drop it, and while it drops, you can use the extra few seconds to work out your next move.
    • The final Virus Level, 20, has a total of 84 viruses to defeat, and the viruses all start out packing the bottle as much as 4/5ths full! Practise, plan and work at it, and it can be done. It takes the very best skill, but it can be done. Upon beating Virus Level 20, you more or less will have "beaten" the game, although from there the final level will repeatedly loop over. Have fun!


    These are the points you score in the game, depending on the number of Viruses you wipe out at a time, and at which speed the game is playing:

    Number of VirusesSpeed

    Super Mario Bros. Invincibility Music

    If you can wipe out four viruses in one move, you will get to hear a brief sample of the SMB Starman music!

    Epilogue Animation

    Complete Level 20 on any difficulty to view the epilogue animation.

    Special Animations

    You will get to watch some special animations upon beating Virus Levels 05, 10, 15 and 20 respectively on the HI speed setting.


    • Whose FAQ on this game showed me a couple of neat tricks that are helpful to this game, and which I used in this FAQ. Also for being a pretty great guy and friend in general.
    GameFAQs | http://www.gamefaqs.com/
    • Where I obtained a couple of cheats used in this FAQ, and specifically to AWing Pilot and M. Newlin who contributed them.
    Gamesdbase | http://www.gamesdbase.com/
    • For their scanned copy of the Dr. Mario instruction manual, where I obtained the game's story extract used in this FAQ, and for the Scoring points values.

    Legal Disclaimer

    This document is Copyright ©2013-2015 Ryan Harrison. This document may not be reproduced under any circumstances except for personal, private use. It may not be placed on any web site or otherwise distributed publicly without advance written permission. Use of this guide on any other web site or as a part of any public display is strictly prohibited, and a violation of copyright.

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    All information contained within this file was written by myself, or for any information taken directly from other sources, whether reworded or kept intact, are also clearly acknowledged within this file. If you are writing any literature related to this game, such as an article, review, or even an FAQ or your own and would like to use any small pieces of information from this file, feel free to do so as long as you clearly credit me for what you used. Failing to do so is plagiarism, and again, a violation of copyright law.

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    This file is dedicated to the memory of four late GameFAQs users, each of whom passed away well before their time. Chris MacDonald (d. May 17, 2004), Elliot Long (d. August 27, 2004), Mitchell Lee Stuekerjuergen (d. January 4, 2006), and Steve McFadden (d. June 28, 2011). The latter was one of my closest and dearest friends whom I had met through GameFAQs, and was one of the most well-known and prolific contributors to the site. Steve was an inspiration to myself to take up video game writing and always took the time to speak to me online about gaming or other interests, as well as comment on my writing. Rest in Peace guys, you will all be dearly missed.


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