(GB / Game Boy)

Dr. Mario (GB / Game Boy)

Game Review

Dr. Mario Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

The doctor’s out

If there’s one thing the 3DS eShop has plenty of, it’s puzzle games. It’s a genre that's always been commonplace on Nintendo handhelds, with Tetris probably the best known example. It’s hardly surprising that Nintendo’s mascot extraordinaire, Mario, invaded Game Boy with his own puzzle title, Dr. Mario. Does it make us feel better, or give out a bad prescription?

Dr. Mario is a simple puzzle game, taking the basic idea of matching blocks and applying a subtle tweak to proceedings. Rather than just matching blocks in groups you have to use ‘vitamin capsules’, which come in blocks of two, and line them up with ‘virus’ tiles of the same colour: match a virus tile with three or more vitamins of the same colour and it’s cleared. While you can merrily match and clear vitamins all day long, you don't pass the level until you've taken out all of the virus blocks. Capsules are moved with the D-Pad and rotated with the A or B button as expected, so anyone should be able to pick up and play.

Unlike the structure of Tetris, where the player is ultimately in control, each progressing level in Dr. Mario adds more virus blocks to clear, while placing them in increasingly inconvenient areas. It’s important to plan ahead and look at the preview of the next vitamin capsules, otherwise it’s possible to get into difficulties and block off viruses with the wrong colours. It’s an interesting enough twist to a typical falling-block title.

The only real issue with this release is that it has, ultimately, aged quite badly. The lack of colour means that you’re distinguishing between white, grey and black blocks, which seems primitive and unappealing against the glut of puzzle alternatives available on the eShop, not to mention the DSiWare entry in this series, Dr. Mario Express. Lack of variety is also an issue, with the menu allowing you to choose which difficulty level to start from, the speed of the blocks and which of the two music tracks to play: when you lose a level you go back to the menu and start again. The two-player mode from the original is disabled in this 3DS release, so it’s a truly bare-boned package.

Fans of the Game Boy’s monochromatic graphic style can revel in some cute touches, such as animated virus bugs on the screen and Mario handing out vitamin capsules at the top of the screen, but the overall presentation is very simple. The two music tracks are called Fever and Chill, both perfectly decent old-school chip tunes if you’re in the mood. Fever is frantic and may get a bit too much on a longer play session, while Chill is easier going without necessarily being quite as relaxed as the name suggests.


Dr. Mario is a decent puzzle game for retro Game Boy enthusiasts, but probably isn't top of the must-have list for other gamers. There are plenty of creative, attractive and modern falling block puzzle games on the eShop, as well as a more fully-featured and contemporary entry in this series, so in that context this title isn’t as sweet a pill as it once was.

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User Comments (40)



Whopper744 said:

I would just get the DSi Shop version again instead of this one if I wanted.
Not like they gave us the Gameboy one in NA anyway. They don't like giving us Gamebody games on the eshop.



DiggerandIndy said:

I have a second opinion; I disagree strongly on the rating. 5/10? More like 8/10 IMO. My biggest complaint is the later levels, making pill-stacking more precarious, but other than that, this game's equally as fun to play as the NES version.



ThomasBW84 said:

@DiggerandIndy I'm reviewing Dr. Mario as a 3DS Virtual Console release, so naturally I'm considering it from the perspective of the content it offers, which is very limited, and how that sits on the platform.

That said, opinions are always very welcome



bofis said:

That or if you're an Ambassador, just play WarioWare Inc. long enough to unlock Dr. Wario from within that game



FonistofCruxis said:

Even though, there isn't much point in getting it due to the superior DSiware version available on the eshop, I still think 5/10 is a harsh score as I see 5 and below as bad scores and this isn't a bad game so I think it should have a 6 or 7/10.



Burning_Spear said:

Releasing the GameBoy version of this makes no sense, given that Dr. Mario Express is available on the same download service. I still have my original GameBoy and GameBoy Color, as well as the original GB Dr. Mario cartridge, but I feel no nostalgia for this release. Couldn't the effort have been devoted to a GameBoy title that was never re-released?




I have the wiiware version on the wii, the dsiware version on the dsi, so downloaded this for my 3DS. Huge fans of this puzzle game. Its one of my favourites and i've devoured loads in the 'genre'



ThomasBW84 said:

@Koops3 For one thing, Tetris has two modes to Dr. Mario's one

It's all about opinion after all, but with the loss of the multiplayer (which also affected Tetris) and the basic options available, I thought 'average' (the description for 5/10) was about right. For big fans of the series who want to go retro, rather than the DSiWare release, it's worth considering.



Bass_X0 said:

Would you have given a different score if you had been reviewing the cartridge as a retro review? If it were me, I'd give a game the same score whether I was reviewing it for a VC release or as a retro release. Not saying I disagree with the score of 5/10 for Dr. Mario though, thats about right to me too even though it does has it fans still. Never did like Dr. Mario except for the music which remains classic to this day.

@Burning_Spear: They do release other games too. We'll likely see a large amount of each company's games on the GB eventually regardless of whether the game is good or bad, wanted or not wanted.



Tinky said:

Nice review, and I agree to the rating though I think it´s really at the top limit - any higher rating than this looks like it would be too high for this little game.
The original GB Tetris is much better, seems like Nintendo wanted to make a little more cash when everyone was captivated by Tetris back then.



blackknight77 said:

I understand the complaints about releasing the old monochrome version when there are so many other versions of Dr. Mario availble. I get that and I understand. But there is something so appealing about the look of old Gameboy games that I would download this in a heartbeat even though I have Dr. Mario on WW and DSiware



ecco6t9 said:

Dr.Mario GB is a choice and it's something that will happen sooner or later with the 3DS having both a NES and GB Virtual Console.

Do you want to spend $3-$5 on the GB version most people never played or $5 for the NES editions?




I'll agree. A score of 5 for Dr. Mario is a bit harsh. I would probably give it a 6 or 7 myself. While I do agree that the DSiWare & WiiWare versions are better to own. Take Dr. Mario 64 on the N64 back when that was released also. It had the classic Dr. Mario gameplay everyone enjoyed, plus a nice size story line featuring both Mario and Wario, each with their own seperate storylines. No matter how you look at all the versions of Dr. Mario that came out, no matter what system it was released on, nothing beats having a CLASSIC like this GAME BOY version of Dr. Mario. Regardless of the fact even if it's missing it's 2 PLAYER feature or if some may consider it inferior to the ones out nowadays. But then again, that's my opinion. OVERALL, it's good to own as a collector's game. Besides remember, it was considered a gem to some. Even if it did come out a year and some months later.



LittleIrves said:

I feel the same way about Tetris GB as many of you feel about Dr. Mario... even though there's a superior product on DSiWare (Tetris Party something), I'd be more inclined to get the original. Doesn't make a lot of sense, but there's something to be said for nostalgia and charm, I guess.



ThomasBW84 said:

@Bass_X0 That would depend on the multiplayer, probably. My overall feeling when reviewing this game was that it was extremely light on content, and while gameplay was decent it didn't really grab my attention. The lack of two player modes in 3DS VC games is pretty irksome, in truth, as it restricts already simple games even further.



DarkEdi said:

Ambassador Warioware has Dr. Wario and it is the same game with different characters but is exactly this same game (options, modes, music, etc) but is in color!



Undead_terror said:

wish they never bothered with this,they could of either not have a extra dr mario since theres express,but what they could of done was either put dr mario and tetris(snes),dr mario and puzzle league(gba) or dr mario 64(since it shouldnt hold alot of memory like other n64 titles)





I can see why people have an issue with not wanting to play a so called inferior version of Dr. Mario from the GAME BOY , but you got to remember. Like I said earlier, OVERALL, it's good to own as a collector's game. Besides, if it was to disappear and never return and you felt like going back to play it again one day down the road but didn't have it, then you would have missed out on it for years to come. That's why I see it as a collector's game, nothing else. I mean, sure it's fun to play every now and then for the heck of it. But then again, that's about all there is to all of it.



Undead_terror said:

@3DSLUIGI that maybe the case but couldnt the titles i said be more rarer,comon look at dr mario 64,the first dr mario with story line(and only),choose charaters,locked charaters,4 players,flash with more modes and then the other two titles have 2 games in one.
ps:none of these are on vc yet and probaubly wont be





I understand what you mean 100% and more bro. But in this kind of scenario. You have to take things like this the way how they are. Besides, I'm glad someone paid attention to my 1st post on this topic earlier today about what I said in reference to Dr. Mario 64. One of the best Dr. Mario games Nintendo HAS EVER made to this day imo. But ya, they may never see the light of day on Wii VC, but who knows, maybe on the Wii U's VC if that happens.



DivineDope said:

Looking at the pictures instills deep feelings in me. Anybody bias'd by DopeNostalgia like me can add a few more points to the score.



Rainman said:

For me Dr. Mario is the greatest game ever created! It has single handedly spurred my purchase of each Nintendo console/handheld I have owned.

I got the Gameboy because of Dr. Mario, the GBC because it would still play the GB cart, the GBA because of the Doctor (this is still my favorite version and I still play it daily!), the NES, SNES and N64 for their versions of the Doctor (skipped the Gamecube because there was no version of Dr. M for it), the DS because it would still play the GBA cart and the DSi and Wii for Dr. Mario Online (still dumbfounded as to how the DSi version doesn't have multiplayer, even locally).

I don't have a 3DS yet because there is no version of Dr. Mario for it... and this GB Virtual Console version doesn't count.



Geonjaha said:

I dont disagree with the score, but it's not really fair to complain about those downsides while mentioning the GB Tetris. There are better versions of Dr. Mario for the eShop, but the same applies to Tetris. 2-Player mode was cut out, but Tetris didnt even have it to begin with.



Morpheel said:

@Geonjaha: Last time I played Tetris, the colors of the blocks didn't matter at all. Dr Mario is all about matching colors.

But I actually agree that Tetris got a rather generous score.



grumblegrumble said:

Wow. So you give the original game that inspired all these new versions a lower score than the contemporary versions? Doesn't make any sense to me. I think we should show a little more respect to the originals. Without them, we would have nothing.



CowLaunch said:

Surely the limitations placed on this entry by the lack of colours compared to later versions would impact the gameplay and therefore the score more than such limitations would affect The score of the original Tetris.



Sam_Loser2 said:

@grumblegrumble The whole point of new versions is to give the same game we all know and love many new features and ideas. Of course the original isn't going to be as good as something way down the road that has fixed previous problems and figured out what works and what doesn't.



StarDust4Ever said:

I doubt seriously I could bear to play this game without the iconic colored Red, yellow, blue pills. Lack of color spoils this title. Ditto for Pacman.

Get Tetris instead.



SyFyTy said:

Why a game this direct and simple is not converted to 3d like Excitebike and made available on the 3ds for more us beyond my comprehension. IT seems as though Nintendo is selling thir worse games first (not this one necc.) and slowly building up to the worth while back stock. Just to make sure these have a chance at making a buck by offering them with no competition to speak of.



millarrp said:

I'll probably pass on this one since I've already got the Dr Mario Express. Although I might consider the NES version if they release in 3D



dronesplitter said:

I pulled out my cartridge for this and played it on my GBA to get color instead of monochrome and that really helps (Nintendo won't let you add color on 3DS VC for these, wow, what a missed opportunity). I did it because I just bought Dr. Mario Miracle Cure and wanted to see how the old GB title held up

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