Friday, June 27, 2008

Piffman2 Reviews Dr. Mario Online Rx

Dr. Mario Online Rx

Let me just start off with this, Dr. Mario Online Rx is a badass name. It’s got an X and the word Online which can make any game instantly sound ten times cooler. It’s certainly better than Dr. Mario and Germ Buster. With that said, it’s a pretty badass WiiWare game too. At least, half of it is.

Dr. Mario Online Rx is divided into two parts, classic Dr. Mario and the new
Wii-specific Virus Buster mode. Dr. Mario is Nintendo’s answer to falling block puzzle games like Tetris. You start off with a jar full of colorful viruses. Then, Dr. Mario starts throwing down pills with one of the corresponding colors on each side. Create a line of four with a combination of pills sand viruses and the virus gets destroyed. Continue until all of the viruses are cleared or the pills stack all the way to the top causing a game over and presumably killing the patient due to a drug overdose. It’s funny how much of a medical metaphor the gameplay of Dr. Mario is. Classic mode is basically the same game that came out for the NES in 1990. However, there are a few extras. You can play online against another person and the experience is very smooth. There’s also flash mode where you only need to kill the three flashing viruses to win. You can play this mode online too.

However, the extra features can’t make up for the core gameplay. Dr. Mario is not as good a puzzle game as Tetris, Meteos, or Bejeweled for that matter and here’s why. First, once all of the viruses are gone the game ends you go on to the next level. In most puzzle games you could theoretically play forever. Infinite replayability is a very important feature for puzzle games considering how simple they are. Also, when playing a puzzle game I and I’m sure many other people get into a state where you stop thinking and act on instinct and reflex. This does happen somewhat in Dr. Mario but to a very limited extent. Finally, it is frustratingly easy to screw yourself over in Dr. Mario. When one half of a pill disappears the other half falls to the bottom creating multicolored columns of pills and viruses that need to be cleared. This is why my favorite mode is flash ode. You only need to worry about certain viruses. Dr. Mario has the speed of Tetris but it requires much more forethought. For some people that might not be such a bad thing. However, if that doesn’t appeal to you don’t give up hope yet. Now it is time to talk about virus buster.

Virus buster is almost worth the whole ten dollars Dr. Mario Online Rx costs (which is a little over-priced considering the game is only 93 blocks). Virus Buster has similar gameplay to Classic Dr. Mario but it also has some key differences. Everything is slower and bigger. You point at blocks with the Wiimote, flip them with the B trigger and drag them into place. Once a pill half disappears the other half can still by manipulated even though gravity is still in play. Because of the speed the player has a higher level of control and more time to plan out the incredible chains and combos that are now possible due to the ability to control pill halves. It is much more strategic and satisfying than classic Dr. Mario and can be just as hard because with bigger pills there is less room in the jar from the start. There is also four-player co-op which can lead to even crazier combos. Surprisingly and unfortunately there is no online play though. Even still, after a thorough play session of Brawl, I always scroll over a few channels and play Virus Buster for a good hour. On the subject on Brawl, I find it funny that they cut Dr. Mario from Smash Bros. now, even though this game has made him more relevant that he has been in years.

Dr. Mario Online Rx is a good package…some parts are just stronger than others. Still, it’s a good deal all overall. The graphics are clean and colorful and there is some very nice Mii support. The original Dr. Mario songs are classics but the remixes here are not so great. Also, there are four songs available in classic Dr. Mario while there are only two in Virus Buster. Still, if Dr. Mario Online Rx is a sign of what Nintendo is personally planning for Wiiware, then gamers will have nothing to worry about. Then they had to go and release My Pokemon Ranch. Sigh.


1 comment:

TheAssailant6661 said...

Great review Piffman. I prefer Pokemon Ranch, but I'm biased :)