Dr. Mario

The NES box art for Dr. Mario (jeez, talk about butt-ugly enemies).

Dr. Mario is a 1990 action / puzzle game in the Mario series that was developed and published by Nintendo. The game's plot is quite simple; Mario is (for some reason) a doctor experimenting with antibiotic pills to treat harmful viruses. In order to kill the viruses, he administers different kinds of pills, all of which have two sides that can be random mixes of red, blue, and yellow. There are viruses of these three different colors throughout the beakers, and Mario has to align them with three pill halves of their identical color to kill them. The game is failed if too many pills overflow the beaker, and the round is won when all viruses are killed.

Now this is one unusual game, not even for the plot so much as the fact that you would never imagine Mario as a doctor. Why doesn't he just keep that profession? It's better, I'm sure than being a plumber, and less dangerous. Oh well, we all have our preferences...

Dr. Mario is one of those games that I always heard about but never got around to playing. I just thought the idea was dumb and way too complicated. But then, I kept running into it and eventually decided to try it. Then I played it again. And then I played it some more. I learned that the game, while silly in nature, is really fun, especially for those who want a mental challenge.

Basically, this game is a recharged version of Tetris. Whereas you brought down the blocks in Tetris by creating full lines, this game involves matching four blocks of the same color, and if you end up being blocked from the viruses, you can't win the level. That's why you have to have the smarts to take down each level quickly and quietly, no matter how difficult. This is what's so great about Dr. Mario: it takes the feeling of Tetris, but bends the rules around to alter the gameplay and make it more difficult than simply creating endless straight lines for points. You really have to be strategic and know what to take advantage of and when. Otherwise, you can end up tying yourself in knots.

Another thing I like about the game is that you don't notice drastic increases in difficulty; it's pretty much just more enemies you have to take care of. In any other game by any other company, the challenge would be increased with cheap shots like extra colors in the mix; but in Dr. Mario, it's the same basic idea with the levels getting more involved each time.

Dr. Mario is a masterpiece of a game in the way that it goes beyond the fun-yet-monotonous gameplay of Tetris, and the somewhat unreasonable measures of games like Hexic, to simply make the idea staying on your toes and finding the most efficient route to success. No matter how silly this game seems, it's one of those games that you should try and absolutely buy if you enjoy it; you can get it for the 3DS Virtual Console, or you can get Dr. Mario Online Rx on the Wii for 1000 Wii Points. If you enjoy the game, it would be a smart move to get at least one of its versions, because I can now see why it's so important in the world of gaming.