Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Lets Play Doctor... The Dr. Mario Online Rx Review

Nintendo's first entry to their own WiiWare service is a classic updated for the current generation, which is Dr. Mario. As for their first game for the service, it is a good start revitalizing an established puzzle game with new modes and online play as seen in some games on Xbox Live Arcade. There are enough modes to satisfy its 1000 Wii Points (1o bucks) price while it looks and sounds good enough being a puzzle game. The online multiplayer is perhaps the only reason to buy this game if you're played the previous iterations to death to compete against players worldwide while running smoothly at the same time. Dr. Mario Online Rx is a good game to recommend for Dr. Mario fans and fans of the genre that can be played in short or long bursts.

Dr. Mario Online Rx's gameplay is classic Dr. Mario with the classic mode faithful to the original game of eliminating viruses by stacking four capsules horizontally or vertically. The controls are simple using the Wiimote sideways for movement of the capsules. A quick drop button is also added similar to the recent Tetris games to speed up the action. The goal is still the same of clearing all the viruses (the weird looking pieces) to proceed to the next level and produce the highest score possible. The later levels have more viruses to eliminate which makes the action more intense especially when the speed of the dropping capsules ramp up if the game gets long. The other classic modes are taking on a computer opponent on a race of eliminating viruses the fastest and a flash mode where is the same mode, but you only need to take out the flashing viruses only to win. Other than the classic mode, the Virus Buster mode is a new take on Dr. Mario using the Wiimote pointer to move capsules around. This offers a new challenge for veterans of the series of playing the game a totally different way of using the Wiimote rather than using a d-pad for movement. It is still the same goal of eliminating viruses, but the twist in this mode is more capsules come when the game gets longer, meaning two capsules will drop down as the game progresses and so on with three. The addition of more capsules make the action make hectic and will test your reflexes because not paying attention to the dropping capsules will result in a game over screen. The Virus Buster mode is surprisingly fun and addictive just like the classic mode being a new way to play Dr. Mario which makes me wonder if a WiiWare Tetris game will have a similar mode to this.

The multiplayer in Dr. Mario Online Rx is the main attraction with online play up to two players. The game uses Mii support for game saves and your avatar when facing people online. Other than playing it locally against another player with the classic modes, the online is where is at and it is a simple system. Rankings and leaderboards are similar to Tetris DS of a single ranking of wins and losses where winning obviously increases your rank and the opposite for losing. Performance-wise, the online runs smoothly by Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection with no lag at all from what I played against other players worldwide. Other than playing worldwide, online can be played with friends by having the infamous friend codes to play. Unfortunately, Virus Buster cannot be played online (can be locally up to four players) at all, which would have been cool to play this mode against other players worldwide. Another cool thing is that can send a demo of the game to a friend that does not have it if they are not sure of buying it. The online play is pretty good being it is in the title of the game compared to some games on other services.

Graphically, Dr. Mario Online Rx looks good enough being a puzzle game. The game screen for the classic mode might be too small for some people, but it is tolerable while Virus Buster mode has a bigger screen because of using the Wiimote pointer. The viruses now feel like actual characters as seen from when you boot up the game and so on. The sound is also tolerable for puzzle game standards with the background music the same as the what was in previous games. The limited selection of music however makes me want to listen to something else on iTunes or something like that since the music in Dr. Mario does get tiresome if you're playing it on long bursts.

As a WiiWare game, Dr. Mario Online Rx is another great example of revitalizing a classic game for the current generation with the smooth online play and the new Virus Buster mode. The classic gameplay still remains as fun and addictive it was since the original. Virus Buster offers a new take for the franchise, but still keeps that addiction the classic mode had even though it is not playable online. The online multiplayer is as simple as it gets with an easy ranking system to understand and quick to get in games, but playing it slow and steady online will likely not lead to victory as reflexes matter if you want to win. It looks and sounds good enough being a puzzle game for the Wii. This whole game makes you wish that Nintendo should have done a DS version like Tetris DS because of the on-the-go aspect and it can be played on short bursts along with the simple online system. Dr. Mario Online Rx is worth the 1000 Wii Points for fans of the genre and those who are looking for a competitive online puzzle game on the Wii.

Score - 8/10

  • Addictive single-player and multiplayer gameplay
  • Virus Buster is a great new take on the classic game
  • Online runs smoothly along with the ability to send demos of this game to friends.
  • Virus Buster can't be played online.
  • Even though the sound is tolerable, might as well blast something else on iTunes or something familiar.
After playing it
  • A DS version of this should happen and hopefully can be played against Wii players too (if this happens, the Wii version has to be patched).
  • A WiiWare Tetris game should implement a similar mode to Virus Buster.

Note: If you clicked the text, they are the screenshots that are in this post since I haven't figured out what to do to get rid of it and I totally screwed up my site font-wise (I don't know what happened).

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