GET YOUR GAME ON: ‘Dr. Luigi’ fills prescription for fun

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First Posted: 2/3/2014

The Year of Luigi comes to an end with a twist on a classic NES game with “Dr. Luigi.” Who knew the Mario Brothers were so smart that they are now both doctors?

Release in 1990, the original “Dr. Mario” was so smart it found itself on the “Best Nintendo Games of All Time” list according to several magazines at the time. With its fun and addictive puzzle-solving gameplay, eye-popping colorful visuals, and catchy music, “Dr. Mario” became an instant classic.

If you have never played “Dr. Mario,” it is a puzzle game that seemed like Nintendo’s answer to “Tetris.” There was a rectangular vertical game board with red, yellow, and blue dancing virus guys crowding the screen. Mario stands in the corner dropping colored pills, and you have to match the pill colors to the viruses. Once you get four matching pellets and a virus lined up, it kills the nasty little bug. The concept is to destroy all of the viruses before the game board fills to the top with pills. With each virus destroyed, you rack up points, and the game continues to get harder and faster until you can’t keep up with it. You have to think fast and put the pills in the right place to earn the most amount of points. The original had some of the most difficult puzzles that I can remember; when you get to higher levels, the speed ramps up and it can become crushingly difficult to master.

Only 24 years later, Mario’s younger brother Luigi has finally finished med school and is ready to try his hand at virus busting, and his time at school has taught him some cool new tricks. First, the most noticeable thing is the new HD graphics; the colors are bright and everything looks sharp and has new level of detail. The original had some of the best music to ever be on the system, and the songs have been remastered with several new ones that are just as good. Technical innovation isn’t the only thing; there are also new moves and ways to play. Something Luigi can do that Mario couldn’t is toss L-shaped pills. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it can really change the dynamic of play. It makes filling in gaps easier and can add to the strategy of planning moves in advance. Along with the new pills, there is also new touchscreen controls thanks to the Wii U gamepad. It isn’t as simple as it sounds; it moves a bit slower, but it drops three pills at a time and you can place them by touching and tapping the screen. Managing three pills can get pretty intense and adds some interesting complexity.

Even though the classic gameplay is great, it isn’t the only way to play. There are several new head-to-head game modes that can be played locally or online. You can even play online with friends or with random people, and the Internet connections for all the matches I played were pretty good; I had no dropped games. Some of the load times were slow, but once I found an opponent, the gameplay was smooth. There are also some really fun new game modes, and most importantly, an online leaderboard where you can test your scores against your friends online to see who reins supreme.

If you were a fan of the original “Dr. Mario,” then you will love this downloadable game on the Wii U. “Dr. Luigi” is a great remake of a classic game with some added twists and beautiful updated graphics. If you have never played the original and you like casual puzzle games, then this game is just what the doctor ordered.

-Robbie Vanderveken is the digital operations specialist at The Times Leader. E-mail him at [email protected]