Review: Dr. Mario (Game Boy)

In this review, we go for another check-up with the puzzle game Dr. Mario. This time, we give the Game Boy version a play.

This game was released in 1990 and would be another port of the classic game. Already, we’ve reviewed the NES version and the Game Boy Advance version.

This port basically takes after the NES version that was released in the same year. What you see in the NES version is mostly what is found in this version.

You have three color viruses: black, white, and grey. The grey is a bit checkerboard in texture, but it is, nevertheless, grey. The idea is that Mario tosses pills into the bottle with the same colors. You rotate and move the pills so that you eventually line up the colors either vertically or horizontally. If you line up four or more, you clear those colors. If you get any number of viruses in that line, you clear those viruses. Clear all viruses to clear the stage.

You can start the game on any number of levels from 1 through to 20. If you complete level 20, you “win” the game, but you can keep playing past level 20.

You also have an option of pill speed: low, med, and hi. This is effectively your difficulty selection. From there, you can select your music and away you go.

One thing to note is the fact that this game does have one little caveat in the higher levels. In a number of other versions, viruses never go higher than four spaces from the top. This means you’ll always have a chance to get a vertical line in clearing those viruses. In this version, viruses can populate three spaces from the top. If a virus populates at that high level, then you have to either go for a horizontal line, or clear the viruses beneath it and get a few of the same color pills to line up vertically beneath the virus to clear it. The former is the most likely way you can accomplish this immediately while the latter is something you’ll likely be able to do towards the end of the game.

If you clog up the top with pills, it’s game over.

A strategy one can employ is constantly think about gravity combo’s. This basically means that left-over falling pieces of pills will fall after you clear one line. If you get the falling pieces to line up in a row of four or more, you’ll clear those as well and get a combo. Accomplishing this will yield a special chime and some points if viruses are cleared. If you get a particularly complex combo, you’ll even get a different chime along with those points. Either way, you’ll clear spaces quickly with this method which is the biggest thing you get by doing this.

While this game does successfully take a lot of what made the original Dr. Mario great and put it into a portable version, it does very little, if anything, else. There is only one mode of play in single player mode which makes gameplay somewhat limiting. If you have played the NES version, I don’t really see any point in playing the Game Boy version.

Graphically, this game is decent, but nothing too huge. I think the way the grey virus and pill color was executed was a bit odd. The vertical spacing takes a bit of getting used to in my opinion. The virus animation can be a bit odd. Still, there is a certain degree of simplicity that does work for this game. So, it was OK, but nothing spectacular.

There are two songs in the gameplay itself: Fever and Chill. The third option is silence. Whatever you choose, you are stuck with that choice until you die which makes the music a little repetitive – even though it wasn’t bad music. the intro music wasn’t bad. Some of the chimes was a bit lower quality then what I was expecting (namely the combo chimes). The other sound effects were OK though.

Generally speaking, if you’ve played the NES version, there’s really little point in playing this version. I think this version is a bit inferior to the NES version myself. The rising of virus population by one level does make things interesting, but gameplay is rather limited in the single player mode. The graphics are a bit hit and miss and the same could be said for the audio as well. So, while it does take after the NES version quite well in the Game Boy environment, you’d rather play the NES version if you can help it.


Furthest point in game: Level 22 (low) – 139,500 points.

General gameplay: 18/25
Replay value: 6/10
Graphics: 6/10
Audio: 3/5

Overall rating: 66%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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