Remember when Mario started branching out into jobs other than his traditional plumber role? After cameo appearances in Punch-Out!! for NES, Tennis for Game Boy and some others, Nintendo decided to give Mario his first white collar job as the star of Dr. Mario. Released for the NES and Game Boy in Japan and the U.S. in 1990, and Europe in 1991, the game is a straightforward and addictive puzzler where the titular Dr. Mario tries to wipe out a viral outbreak and (spoiler alert) send them back to their home planet.
Puzzle games being what they are, Dr. Mario doesn’t come with much of a storyline. How did Mario become a doctor anyway? Where did the viruses come from? How did the outbreak occur and where is it happening? The game really gave no explanations on any of these points. But there are some answers, in a long forgotten manga book that was released alongside the game in Japan in 1990.
The second book in the Kodansha Media “KC Mario” series, the book - naturally called “Dr. Mario” - tries to give some background on the events that happen in the game. Its a weird, cute and quirky book; exactly what you’d expect from Japan.
In the story Bowser cultivates the viruses in an attempt, yet again, to conquer The Mushroom Kingdom. Once infected, the people of The Mushroom Kingdom laugh uncontrollably and cant’t stop. Mario studies potential cures and, with the help of Princess Peach and Daisy, uses the Sky Pop to rain down capsules over the kingdom to save the day. One virus escapes though and infects Luigi; Mario shrinks down in the Marine Pop to try and save him. Bowser somehow also gets into Luigi’s body and Mario battles the viruses to save Luigi’s life, as the viruses multiply and threaten to kill them both.
There is a lot of continuity from Super Mario Land that carries over in this book. It also delves into Luigi having jealousy issues over Mario being player one all the time. There is some explanation of how big the Mushroom Kingdom is as well as establishing that Mario and Luigi live permanently in that land. Overall it's an interesting and fun read that fills out some of the plot holes that you'd have come to expect from puzzle games.
This series ran from 1989-1998 and covered every Mario game released in that time, from Super Mario Land to Yoshi’s Story. It's a separate publication from Super Mario Adventures, which was released in English. Super Mario Kun, which was released in French but not English, is also a different line of books; Super Mario Bros. 2 was also covered here last year.
If you'd like to view this Dr. Mario book with a full English narration please check out the video below. It has an awesome soundtrack by game composer AC Menes and the Japanese commercials of Dr. Mario are also thrown in as well because, hey why not? It's guaranteed to be a fantastic voyage!
If you liked this video be sure to check out Gaijillionaire's Club for more things retro, Nintendo and Japan.