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Platform

N64

 

Genre

Puzzle

 

Publisher

Nintendo

 

Developer

Nintendo

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Q2 2001

 

 

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Dr. Mario 64

 

        

If Mario were a real person, he’d be one of the highest paid people on the planet. He’s a plumber and a doctor – I wonder what kind of school he went to?

The concept behind Dr. Mario 64 (DM) follows exactly the formula established by Dr. Mario for the SNES. "Dr." Mario tosses out little pills that need to be stacked on viruses to wipe out the little buggers. (Kind of like Tetris but with more bacterial agents.) To kill a blue virus, blue pills must be stacked on top of it. There are red, blue, and yellow viruses to squash and the pills come in a variety of colours – mixed and solid. It’s simplicity makes it very accessible to almost everyone. Obviously, people that enjoy hardcore shooters like Quake III and Unreal Tournament, won’t be as interested as people that enjoy puzzle games. DM is a different kind of action and requires a lot of concentration. One slip can spell "Game Over" faster than you can say, "Ascorbic acid."

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There are many, many options and game-types to pill-pop your way through. There are Marathon, Story, and Multiplayer modes of play, to name only three. The Story mode is pretty silly and is not different than the other modes. Marathon just keeps going – as you eliminate viruses the bottom line fills in and you’ll find you’re thumbs cramping up before long. While I found that tedium set in after a while (not to mention frustration with my inability to beat level two on Story mode), my wife got pulled in and played for hours at a time. Towards midnight on the third night of her 

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binge, she begged me to turn the console off so she could get some sleep. She’s still hooked. She just can’t get enough of those pills, dropping them into place, switching them around, setting up the big score, watching those pesky viruses explode. One of the options – 4-player multiplay – has a downside to it’s fun. Everything shrinks and if you’re playing on a smaller TV you’ll spend more time squinting and shouting, "CRAP!" than having much fun.

 

DM is fairly addictive especially if you manage to get on a roll. But since there’s no variation in the basic setup, not even some power-up pills (How about a laxative pill that wipes out one line of viruses?), you might lose interest pretty quick. There are various speed and difficulty levels to tweak. One the highest levels you must become One With The Force to have any chance of winning.

 

Graphics and sound are nothing special. Some of the tunes actually verge on mind squelching they’re so annoyingly cute and repetitive. The graphics get the job done, but don’t look for any special lighting effects. The animation for the characters are nothing to scream about either. My one gripe with the graphics is the "shadow pill." It’s suppose to act as a guide, showing up directly over whatever area the pill is coming down on. This should make lining them up easier, but more often than not it only served to screw me up. Thankfully, you can turn it off, but I don’t think it should even be there! All that being said, I still think the simplistic graphics work in its favor. Besides the shadow pill, there aren’t any distractions like big flashes and screen-shaking.

Verdict: Good addictive fun with friends or alone. Try before you buy.

- Omni

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