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Forget Call of Duty, Real Men Need the Retro Love: Dr. Mario

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chris-littlechild - December 3, 2014

There is nothing --effing nothing-- that Nintendo's mustachioed maestro can't do. Over his three decade career, he has taught us typing skills, competed in the olympics (both winter and regular-flavored), piloted spacecraft and submarines, done the whole ‘princess rescue' thing on umpteen occasions and travelled through time with his lanky dumbass brother.

There was even that time he shrunk down and journeyed into Bowser's colon. And if you've ever seen a Mushroom Kingdom public toilet after that huge bastard's used it, you'll know how ballsy that was.

But his crowning achievement? His contribution to medical research as his alter ego, Dr. Mario. Watch your ass, ebola. This guy's on the case.

The good doctor first appeared in 1990, in NES puzzler Dr. Mario. At this time, Tetris owned the world of puzzley gaming goodness, so he had to bring something different to the table of... puzzle games. Or whatever. That something was giant angry mutated viruses, which were in need of some capsules-to-the-face righteous justice.

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When the germs are the size of your freaking head, you've got problems.

It's a unique theme, at any rate. Differently colored germs lurk about on the playing field, and Mario throws his two-color pills down to meet them. Your job is to fandangle and maneuver said pills so as to match them with the appropriate virus. A chain of four reds, blues or yellows will eradicate germ and pill alike. It's your standard match-three (or, y'know, four) scenario, all in all, and one that fans of the puzzletacular will pick up immediately.

But hey, the play field is a medicine bottle, and you don't see that every day. Much of the time, your objective is different to the usual fare too. In Dr. Mario, the main gameplay is based around individual levels, with an increasingly difficult crew of viruses to murderize. As far as the usual endless modes go, that isn't the way of the doctor.

The core gameplay wasn't all that original (and by ‘all that,' I mean remotely), but this is one hell of a compulsive puzzler right here. Remember The Tetris Effect (it gets capitalized because it's an actual goddamn medical condition, recognised by sciencey science-dudes and everything)? That's the sign of a truly affecting game, one that haunts your nightmares and sees vengeful tetronimos chasing you across hillsides to stamp on your face.

Well, Dr. Mario has it too. How many sleepless nights did I have, watching dodgy-looking pills cascading down before my closed eyes? Too damn many is how many. Screw you, Mario.

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