Review By: Andrew Joy
|# Of Players:||1-2|
|Accessories:||Game Boy Advance Game Link Cable|
Everybody likes a good deal, there’s no denying it (so don’t even try it), and the Dr. Mario & Puzzle League compilation is just that. As the name implies, you get Dr. Mario and Puzzle League, and you get the set for a decent price all on one Game Boy Advance cartridge. But, perhaps the best part is that, whether you are a puzzle fan or not, you're likely to find something you enjoy in one of the two titles and it is far from one of those only-hard-core-puzzle-fans-need-apply type of games, though you might need a sense of nostalgia.
For instance, my mother is certainly what you would call a diehard puzzle fan with a dedicated library of Tetris (various), Meteos (DS), Polarium (DS) and she’s dying to try Lumines (PSP) after a certain glowing review. In fact, some of my earliest memories about gaming come not from actually playing, but from watching her play! And what do you think that game was? Why, Dr. Mario, of course! So naturally, when I got this game it was all I could do to pry it from the back of her DS’ GBA slot. However, when I finally did get my hands on it, I unfortunately found myself to be far less enthralled with Dr. Mario then I was in my youth. But, on the other hand, I found a new favorite with Puzzle League, though we’ll go into the reasoning for that later. The important thing you should know here is that I, for lack of a better word, hate puzzle games, and yet I found myself pouring over my GBA for hours upon hours, caught up in the quirky little game.
Dr. Mario, as I’ve said, is a game from my past, though even back then it wasn’t received that well. Today, it should probably be received even worse. The graphics are simple, the gameplay is only mildly amusing and the sound is enough to make you want to swallow all those pills yourself. However, if you want to be nostalgic just for the sake of it, it is still the same game it was all those years ago, and it even has all those campy features you’ve come to expect from a Game Boy Advance game. You can also adjust almost every feature, so you can spin and drop those dual-colored vitamins over the little dancing viruses in a variety of modes, speeds and even music (including, thankfully, in complete silence). The setup for Dr. Mario is simple enough, with the D-pad moving the vitamins, A and B spinning them, the shoulder buttons turn on/off the ghost vitamin (which shows you a small silhouette of where your descending pill will land) and, of course, the start button brings up your menu.
The screen is roughly divided into three areas (with only minor changes in a multiplayer challenge). To the right you have an old school HUD, showing your level, speed and remaining viruses, all topped off with the titular Dr. Mario who tosses pills and does a little victory dance when you line up four or more lines of vitamins and viruses to make them disappear. In the middle is the vial where the viruses sit, your vitamins are tossed and where the start/pause menu will appear. And, finally, on the left you have second HUD-like clipboard that gives you the top score, your score and time and, below all that, a little magnifying glass giving you a close-up look at the viruses, which are almost always in a constant state of, um, well I suppose you could call it dancing. Those guys, of course, still look as cool as ever and, come to think of it, may have been the only reason I was as eager to replay Dr. Mario as I was.
Posted: 2006-02-28 19:02:56 PST