Review by Mariner

"Otherwise known as Tetris Lite, but it’s all good anyways"

Genre - Puzzle (Tetris Style)

Unless I’m mistaken (a definite possibility), this was the last Nintendo published game on the N64. It came out of nowhere too. But who could complain? It’s Dr. Mario, right? The most well known of all the Tetris clones? Yes, it’s Dr. Mario. Yes, it is exactly like you expected. Yes, there are lots of new modes and stuff. Great? I suppose some might think so.

I’m sure you know of Dr. Mario’s gameplay by now, right? Mario throws out a pill, separated into two halves, each half one of three colors. Your goal is to line up four of the same color in a row (horizontally or vertically) and wipe out the viruses that are on the screen. Thus, placing three red pieces on top of a red virus will kill it, making all of those halves of the pill disappear. In multiplayer, if you set up a combo, junk will fall on the other player’s screen. Controls are the same as Tetris, move, rotate, and press down to speed things up. Simple, eh?

It is. This game is nothing more than a unique but simplified Tetris clone. There are very few, if any, advanced tactics other than setting up combos, remembering horizontal, or sneaking pills underneath viruses. It won’t take too long to fully master all of these tricks. After that, it’s only a matter of speed. Unlike Tetris, where you have to worry about somewhat strategic placement of pieces, there’s usually fairly obvious places to put the pills. There’s very little need to worry about covering up viruses (much like creating “holes” in Tetris). It’ll happen, but it’s quite simple to get out of it. For the most part, this game does not offer much in the way of a challenge unless on the very hardest of difficulties.

On the other hand, it is pleasantly addicting. It’s fairly relaxing to play, and it’s nice to watch you progress towards victory. Tetris may be harrowing at times, but this really isn’t. Which can be a good thing if that’s what you want. It’s a nice simpler alternative to Tetris with plenty of replay value, which is probably the best thing you can say about this game.

That pretty much covers Dr Mario in general. So what does this game specifically give you? Plenty, actually. By far the best addition is four player support. If you have many friends who like this game, this version is undoubtedly the best for you. Apparently it can be quite fun in multiplayer, and is actually quite popular around here. There are also tons of new modes. There’s a story mode, where you must fight against progressively harder opponents. Another interesting mode is the flash mode, where you must only kill the flashing viruses. Or perhaps you like the Marathon, where new viruses always appear and you play until you lose? There’s also options like saving your data, choosing which character you want to be in multiplayer (doesn’t effect gameplay at all), and so forth. In the end, though, most of these modes are just extras. They don’t radically change the gameplay and, except for four player support, don’t seem to add a ton to the game. Then again, there’s not much you can add to these types of games. But still, it’s not like this offers a radically new experience. You’re still playing Dr. Mario, which may or may not be a good thing for you.

So, what’s the final verdict? It’s a tough call. If you’re a puzzle freak, you’ll probably want it and probably knew that without reading this review. If you liked Tetris and never played Dr. Mario, you may want to try it out before buying to see if it’s right for you. If you like Dr. Mario and own no other version, than this is the one to get (unless price turns you off, but it shouldn’t be too expensive. It debuted at $30, after all.) If you already own a version of Dr. Mario, I’d pass unless A) you’re a Dr. Mario fanatic, B) you like spending money, or C) you could really put that four player support to good use. It’s a good game, and a good upgrade, but not great. Oh well. It does what it does, and it does it well.


Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 03/06/02, Updated 03/06/02

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