[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/drmario/cover.jpg[/floatleft]I am going to go out on a limb to say that [i]Dr. Mario[/i] is one of my favorite games of all time. I would also be correct in stating that it is one of Dots’s favorite games of all time. We currently have a nice little collection of [i]Dr. Mario[/i] games, and you would stand a better chance of robbing Fort Knox than you would stealing those games from Dots. With the recent release of the [i]Classic NES Series 2[/i] for GBA comes this wonderful NES classic in portable form. [i]Dr. Mario[/i] was in fact released for the original Game Boy in 1990, but a full-color port will always outdo the one-color games from the original Game Boy.
[i]Tetris[/i]-style games are by far the best-selling games ever. Ever since the success of the original [i]Tetris[/i], the dropping block-style gameplay has been applied and utilized in some form or fashion with almost every major franchise character from the NES days. [i]Dr. Mario[/i] infused this [i]Tetris[/i]-style gameplay with a theme of battling viruses and some of the catchiest tunes ever. The simple gameplay made it good for quick games, and the challenge of higher levels kept you coming back for more.
[floatright]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/drmario/ss02_thumb.jpg[/floatright]The GBA release of this game is a simple port from the NES version, so there is nothing really new about it. If you have played it on NES, then you are familiar with the GBA version. For those of you who haven’t, the game obviously takes on a medical-related theme. Your puzzle area is inside a medicine bottle that is full of dancing viruses that are blue, red, and yellow. Instead of [i]Tetris[/i]-shaped blocks, you get colored pills. The pills are divided in half with each half taking on one of the three colors. The pills run the full combination of colors, including pills that are a single color on both sides. To get rid of each virus, you need to stack three pill halves of the same color either vertically or horizontally (double pills stacked inline count as two). The level is complete when you remove all of the viruses or when you fill up your medicine bottle and lose. The higher levels begin with an almost completely full medicine bottle, which makes winning a big challenge.
[i]Dr. Mario[/i] does support two player head-to-head gameplay via a link cable or wireless adapters. In this mode, the screen is split with each player occupying one side of the screen. The matches play to the best of five, so three games are needed to defeat your opponent. Completing a chain of combos will drop a few pill halves onto your opponent’s side. Setting up large combos can highly disrupt your opponent and ensure victory.
[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/drmario/ss01_thumb.jpg[/floatleft]The game shows its age graphically, but I was pleasantly surprised that the graphics looked much more crisp while playing on the DS versus our GBA SP. The dual speakers of the DS also let me jam out to Fever and Chill with just a tad more clarity.
Being a rabid fanboy of [i]Dr. Mario[/i] gives me a slight bias, but having a portable version of this fantastic game is well worth the $20. [i]Tetris[/i] and [i]Dr. Mario[/i] fans will undoubtedly enjoy this one for a long time.