Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Day 87: Dr. Mario Online Rx

In the twenty or so years since Tetris first burst onto the scene, it seems like every puzzle game has either undergone a 3-D makeover or accepted a Pokemon takeover in order to stay alive. Not Dr. Mario. Dr. Mario Online Rx is the same pill-tossin', germ-killin' game the original Dr. Mario was back in 1990.

The new WiiWare Dr. Mario features the classic game as well as the flash mode from Dr. Mario 64 and Virus Buster mode, which uses the Wiimote as a pointer and allows up to four players. The major addition in the new version is the ability to play against others online.

As with Mario Kart, players are given a Vs. Ranking based on their performance and paired up with opponents of similar rank. The online battles themselves are a race to clear the level of the same 20 germs. Perhaps in response to complaints about the inability to communicate with other players in Smash Bros. and Mario Kart, Nintendo has included six preset phrases which may be used after a match. These include "good game," "you got me" and the always devastating "neener neener."

Nintendo did the right thing sticking with the classic gameplay. The online play doesn't add much to the experience though. There's very little interaction between the two halves of the screen. The Miis, cute as ever in their little lab coats, just strike poses. Causing extra objects to fall on the opponents screen happens rarely and I've never seen more that two blocks at a time fall. Most of the time I'm only vaguely aware there's even someone else over there.

The best thing about Dr. Mario Online Rx is that it's a ten dollar WiiWare download rather than a fifty dollar game.

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