Topic: One Year Later: Dr. Mario Online Rx and Family Table Tennis

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It's me, I'm back again! While I am searching for internships and the like, I will not look away from my promise to keep up this selection of essays (my obsession with WiiWare kind of prevents it). Anyways, this week was an epic week for WiiWare last year, considering the good and the bad that came out from it. Without further ado...

One Year Later 003: (5/26/08) Dr. Mario Online Rx and Family Table Tennis

9) Dr. Mario Online Rx (Arika [Nintendo], 1000pts)
It took nine releases, but Nintendo finally pushed one of its franchises onto WiiWare in America. Prior, the game had seen release in Europe and in Japan (one about a week and the other months before), and the number of complaints grew to a fervor. Once this game was released, however, the cries were wiped out, and many grabbed hold of this banquet without much considering other releases surrounding its release date (but I’ll get into that next week). One of three announced WiiWare titles by Nintendo before the launch of the service (the others being My Pokemon Ranch and Magnetica Twist), Dr. Mario Online Rx is lauded as one of the best titles in the service. The game is essentially two in one: an original Dr. Mario title and a newly designed game with the Wii in mind. The most robust part of the game is the original Dr. Mario section in which players assume the role as Dr. Mario himself or as a Mii character in order to defeat the pesky viruses that fill the large pill bottle on-screen. The modes range from single player games to mutli-player battles, and Arika made sure to allow for online battles between friends and strangers with little problem. The other main game mode, Germ Buster, is a single player or cooperative game in which players use the Wii Remotes’ pointers to bring down falling megavitamins to defeat the viruses. While not as full-fledged as the main modes, it still provides for a unique experience only the Wii could provide, so credit should be given to the attempt at innovation. The online Dr. Mario aspect was the main selling point, though.
Reception: At the time of its release, Dr. Mario Online Rx was seen as the best WiiWare release bar none, at least by a number of sources. IGN found that it was a robust title and deserving of everyone’s Wii points (8.5), but NintendoLife gave it a less-resounding 7, stating that the title had little to truly be worthy of 1000 Wii points if you could just spend 500 on a Virtual Console version of the game (though at the time, it was hard to consider how 1000 point WiiWare titles were to be, content-wise). Regardless of the semi-mixed impressions, the game is one of the best-selling WiiWare titles to date, and it has never dropped below the top 10 on WiiWare’s US Charts (not even 9). This game has set the bar for evergreen WiiWare titles, and it looks like it will never disappear from the public’s purchasing eye.
Outlook: Arika has put its effort on other Wii titles since then, mostly the upcoming Nintendo-published Endless Ocean 2. Nintendo has since launched a number of puzzle games including the three titles in the Wii’s Art Style series (and many more on DSiWare). No Dr. Mario sequel will come, obviously, but Nintendo do have other properties yet to come onto WiiWare…hmmm…
Random “Did you know?”: Arika is the developer of the Tetris: The Grand Master series in Japan. Makes sense for them to develop a Dr. Mario game, then.

10) Family Table Tennis (Aksys Games, 500pts)
By this time in WiiWare’s lifecycle, there was a question regarding the relationship between price and content. At launch, only one 500 Wii point game was released (Defend Your Castle), so when Family Table Tennis arrived, it was one of two games with the cheapest price tag. Released at the Japanese launch of WiiWare, some impressions were decent, citing that it showed promise as a small five dollar purchase, but the reception would change on the Western front. Family Table Tennis gives players the ability to play as four characters who happen to be a father, mother, and their two children, one a son and the other a daughter (so as to keep gender discrimination low, no doubt). As these characters, players play table tennis, and like in Wii Sports, all you have to do is swing the remote to hit the ball over. At times, a character may stumble, and if you swing right, the ball will fly past them with little problem. There is a tournament mode, a single game mode, and three mini-games (one of which is a long-term game, the second a target shooter, and the third a “sort the fruit” game). There are a number of environments in which to play, but otherwise, the game is just as stated above.
Reception: The game was not seen in the best of light from a critical stand point. NintendoLife felt that the game was made obsolete by Wii Sports and said it was “hard to recommend” even with the lowest price range. IGN was even harsher, providing an abysmally low score of 2.5 and saying to avoid it like the plague, in short. Despite the negative reviews, the game lasted until September before it vanished from the Top 20. I use this game to note that, when WiiWare was younger, 500 point games were the way to go. As January of this year shows, however, that has changed.
Outlook: The high sales of this title over the summer and then some prompted Aksys Games to push for many more cheap Family titles for WiiWare. Already released by now are Family Glide Hockey and Family Pirate Party. There are still: a mini-golf game, a slot car racer, a card game, and, get this, a tennis game. I have a feeling we will be seeing these games for another year or two before we are done with Family. Good thing Aksys Games publishes the Bit.Trip series, too, to try and balance it out.

One Year Later: May 2009 Releases Top 20 Positions Chart
Here is a line graph of rankings for the four non-launch titles for WiiWare in May 2008. Here you can sadly see the fall of Star Soldier R and the slow decline of Family Table Tennis into September. What this also shows is how static Dr. Mario is; I predict it'll be on the Top 20 for yet another year at the very least!

Just reminding you all to replay these two games if you got 'em to remind yourselves of the games you've perhaps long abandoned. I will post more charts at the end of each month, but you'll see me posting every week regardless.

Hope you enjoy reading these articles as much as I enjoy preparing and writing them!

Edited on by 0-Watt


They had better do well with the Tennis game. When I first reported it, I was all: As if Table Tennis wasn't enough, now they gotta do Tennis too. No online = No buy. The card game holds promise and I'll be giving it a try.

Anyway, nice charts. I did replay Table Tennis the other day just for kicks, actually. Couldn't last 10 minutes before I got sick of it.



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