Dr. Mario Review

Developer: Nintendo Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: October 25, 2004 Also On: NES

When the NES Classics series originally came out I felt great disdain toward it. Who in their right mind would pay $20 each for ports of NES games? Obviously, quite a few people did so, as is evidenced by the fact that a second series was released. Somewhere among all of these NES ports sits the lone ported puzzle game, Dr. Mario. If you have read my review of the NES version of this game, you know that I preferred Tetris 2 over Dr. Mario, but Dr. Mario is certainly a good game in its own right, even fifteen years later.

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So you might be asking yourself why I would buy a game in the NES Classics series that I already had. The reason is threefold. First, it was on clearance for $7 at Target. Second, it provides me with a third puzzle game to play on my DS (the other two being Columns Crown for GBA and Meteos). Third, GBA games automatically are approved at the college I attend (which has restrictions on which games are and are not approved and how many can be checked) and Dr. Mario isn’t on that list of approved games otherwise. The moral of the story is basically that I bought the game out of convenience. But how does it stack up today?

Dr. Mario’s graphics were very good in 1990. However, what was good in 1990 on the NES was not good in 2004 on the GBA because the GBA is a more powerful system. You might contend this by saying that they were going for an exact port, which would be an acceptable argument if not for the fact that the graphics seem to be more faded and less vibrant than the graphics in the NES original. So, regardless of whether you’re judging by quality of port or by quality against current standards, the game falls short either way. Still, the graphics are good enough to get the job done, and are close enough to the NES version’s in many ways to bring back nostalgia.

The sound, however, seems to have been emulated well. Both musical selections sound like they did back in 1990, and they are both just as addictive as they were back then. Typical puzzle game sound effects haven’t changed drastically since 1990, especially on handhelds, so the sound effects don’t sound that bad either. Overall, the sound still sounds good and will bring back good memories of the NES version for those who have played it.

One thing that definitely hasn’t changed is the gameplay. It still involves Mario trying to eliminate viruses from a bottle by throwing pills into it. Three colors of virus correspond to three colors of possible pill piece, and, like real-life capsules, each pill has two halves which can each contain a different drug color. There are only nine pill possibilities, and the game still has the annoying tendency of sometimes sending you the same pill that you don’t need four or five times in a row once in a while, but overall, the game is still just as fun as it ever was and maintains a lot of its addictiveness.

I haven’t tried it, but my understanding is that this game can be played multiplayer using only one cartridge, which is a plus if you have anybody that you want to play against. I can’t imagine that the multiplayer in this game is any different than the multiplayer in the original NES version, but I can’t verify that, so if you want a good idea of how the multiplayer works in this game, read my review of the NES version.

Now for the really important question: is this game worth getting? If you’ve never played Dr. Mario before, you should definitely give it a try and there are many versions of this game that have been released over the years. If you’ve played the game before and want a portable version, this game is probably better than the Game Boy version and has the distinction from the original Game Boy version of being playable on a DS if you have one. If, however, you are not interested in playing the game on the go and you already have another version of it, you can probably safely skip this version as it contains nothing new to speak of.

Graphics: 5
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 2
Replay Value/Game Length: 8
Final: 6
Written by Martin Review Guide

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