Video Game Rentals Delivered

Dr. Mario Online Rx (WiiWare)

David Yun David Yun: (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2009-04-30 07:51:39

Dr. Mario Online Rx (WiiWare) - Rank C

Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Date: 5/26/08

Dr. Mario is a beloved puzzle game that dates back to the NES. I may be committing heresy here, but I feel that it has always been overrated. It's a competent enough Tetris clone, but "competent" isn't sufficient to stand out in such an impacted field. I've always felt that the very similar Puyo Puyo offers crisper, more instinctive action. It's hard to put my finger on it, but Dr. Mario feels a touch random, with success and failure influenced by accidental whims of fortune. It's just missing that focused tightness that Tetris and its superior progeny possess.

If you're a newcomer to this genre, Dr. Mario plays simply enough. Dual-colored pills drift downward, and you need to align like colors together by sliding or rotating the pills around. This causes the rows or columns of like-colored pills and viruses to vanish, and the level is completed once all of the viruses have been eliminated.

This Wii version has a few interesting new features. Firstly, you can play as your Mii instead of Mario. More Wii games ought to utilize this function. Online multiplayer has been added, along with the ability to send friends a demo of the game to play together. For some reason, multiplayer is limited in this version to just two competitors.

A new "Virus Buster" mode also makes its debut. Up to four players use the Wiimote motion controls to cooperatively tackle infections. Multiple pills fall simultaneously, and some amount of teamwork is necessary to avoid fighting over the same puzzle blocks. Aside from the slightly clumsy pointer device, this tacked on mode is potentially more enjoyable than the classic mode. Sadly, Virus Buster cannot be played online, although the Wii's lack of voice chat might have sapped the fun out of it anyway.

If you're a resolute Dr. Mario fanatic, go ahead and raise my grade. It's the same game you've loved since 1990. I do have to admit that it's a video game that you can get almost anyone to play and enjoy, and that counts for something. On the other hand, if you trust my critical assessments, put the $10 asking price for Dr. Mario Online RX toward one of the Puyo Puyo alternatives.

BONUS INFO on those alternatives, because that's how I love you:

For $8, you can snag Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine or Kirby's Avalanche for the Virtual Console. Aside from the lack of online capability, I'd recommend either over Dr. Mario Online RX. I personally prefer the style and presentation of Kirby's Avalanche (Nintendo > Sega), but it can ONLY be played with a Classic or GameCube controller. Go with Mean Bean Machine if this is a hassle for you.

For $9 you can grab Puyo Puyo 2. It offers even more refined gameplay than Mean Bean Machine or Kirby's Avalanche, but has the very minor drawback of being entirely in Japanese. This really isn't much of a problem, as it doesn't affect gameplay at all.

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