Retro: VC Weekly #198

Welcome to VC Weekly, N-Europe's guide to the wonderful world of Nintendo's download service. Written by Sam C Gittins.

If you have a penchant for puzzle games then you might be pleased with this latest virtual offering but otherwise there isn't a great deal to see. Anyway enough from me and on with the game!

Available for download this week we have...

  • Dr. Mario

Price: GB �2.70, EU �3
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo R&D1
Released: 1991
System: GameBoy

Back in the original heyday of the GameBoy a fair few puzzle games were available on the system but nothing like the amount of choice we have available today on the eShop which easily eclipses the 'choice' that we once had so it should come as little surprise that when it comes down to re-releasing these age-old titles in the modern age alongside more recent classics such as Pullblox some older titles will pale in comparison. Unlike the seemingly immortal Tetris which is still easily enjoyable despite more modern takes on it being available Dr. Mario has since been bettered many times over, this has never been more prominent than now as the sugar coating has all but disappeared making for a rather bitter pill to swallow.

For the uninitiated Dr. Mario is in essence rather simple, playing as the titular character who throws coloured pills into a disproportionately sized jar you must guide the coloured medication which comes with two colours on each side that you need to match three or more against the viruses of the same colour; once you've cleared all the viruses from the screen the game then moves onto the next stage. Controls speak for themselves as predictably you move the pills with the d-pad and rotate them with either of the action buttons so it's very easy indeed to initially pick up but just how long you'll actually decide to play is up to you.

As the stages progress you'll find that the viruses have been placed in increasingly intricate formations that are all the trickier to get to so the challenge comes from working out a 'route' in your head of which germs to get rid of first which is notably an interesting twist on conventional puzzle game logic. Unfortunately while it is still fun this version has undeniably aged badly as for a start the game is originally famous for having colour which makes it easier to distinguish between which germs you're trying to disperse of course this isn't really an issue with Tetris as you're going off the shape but here it's definitive a blow; the other main negative is the lack of content as this really is a bare-bones version of the game featuring even less content than the cut-down DSi version and substantially less then the Wii version not to mention the obvious omission of the two-player mode.

There are a few nice visual touches including the animation on Dr. Mario himself along with the erratic movement of the viruses at the bottom of the screen which is sure to amuse but aside from that there is little to report on as the standard of presentation is rather poor overall. Music is another story however as you at least get the fast-paced 'Fever' plus the decidedly more relaxed 'Chill' themes to play along to which are still perfectly 'hummable' after all these years and are a staple of any title in the series.

While it's still a decent puzzle game in essence I really can't recommend this version of Dr. Mario as there are entries that are far superior to this re-release that are available for only a few pounds more and make this version seem overpriced even though you're getting virtual change from a mere three pounds. I would advise that this only be picked up by die-hard fanatics of the series as there really isn't much to draw in newcomers so just save your hard-earned money for more worthy releases as this version is ridden with virtual diseases.

Verdict : Not even Dr. Mario can save this virtual release from relapse.

That's it for another installment of VC Weekly which will return again soon. So until then, enjoy the rest of the week and Game On!

Sam Gittins
[email protected]

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