Dr. Mario 64 – N64
Platform: Nintendo 64
Release Date (NA): 2001
Nerd Rating: 9 out of 10
Following the great success of the NES’s Dr. Mario, Nintendo saw a way to bring the pill-pushing Italian plumber-turned-doctor to the new powerful 64 bit processing home console known as… THE NINTENDO 64! What could make Dr. Mario 64 better than the original installment? Sure, you can improve colors, improve graphics, add some cutesy pointless backgrounds and borders, but how in the world can you change the gameplay and improve on it? If you don’t improve, then it needs to be called “Classic Dr. Mario” or something to that matter. I just can’t wrap my head around how the original Dr. Mario could ever get better… because the classic Dr. Mario for the NES is by far one of the best puzzle games ever created. Let’s see if we can’t figure out what makes Dr. Mario 64 a unique and enthralling remake of Dr. Mario.
There are a variety of game modes in Dr. Mario 64. But each game mode is really just exactly the same game as Dr. Mario on the NES. It plays exactly the same, but the process of how you get to where you are, the story mode, a 4-person multiplayer mode, and the inclusion of characters other than just Mario… “excuse me, sorry. DOCTOR Mario. Yes, Dr. Mario, I know you didn’t go to plumbing school for 10 years to not be called a doctor.”
One of my favorite inclusions in this enhanced and revitalized game is the story mode. It’s a fresh take on the great puzzler we came to love. I don’t know about you guys, but I own 2 copies of the original Dr. Mario and I own 4 NES systems… But I still struggle occasionally to get my NES to work well. And it can often get all jacked up in the middle of a heated bout with your friend (who is inevitably always worse than me and I’ll start him/her off at level 8 while I’ll conquer levels 18 and up… and still win) and freeze (or become completely unplayable and start showing coded numbers and stuff), causing uncontrollable nerdrage. But the folks at Nintendo wanted to revisit this classic and introduce it to a new generation but throw a bone to those of us who loved the original by not making it the exact same game (even though it really is) that we already own.
The story mode is all about Dr. Mario going from house to house curing everyone of their flu (the entire town must have been chiefing on the same L because EVERYONE is sick!). Somehow Wario has discovered Dr. Mario’s megavitamins and the wonderful powers it has on viruses! So he concocts a plan to steal the Megavitamins and become richer than he could have ever imagined! With the help of his bad-buddies from Wario Land 3, the fearsome Wario challenges Dr. Mario head-to-head in a battle of wit, speed, composure, and problem solving. You are tasked with killing viruses faster than your opponent or you will surely die (no not really, but you won’t win. That’s for sure). After you beat Wario for the first time, Dr. Mario is now onto him but when you least expect it, Dr. Scientstein jacks your pill stash and you have to chase him down! Wario’s friends get in your way and challenge you to duels repeatedly until you can finally defeat the entire crew and save the town from imminent Nyquill overdose!
This whole thing is pretty cool, but it’s a little weird. In the scenes between the matches, all of the characters are actually just cut outs on a piece of [paper?] moving around on a full 3D screen. Are they trying to make me buy Paper Mario?? It doesn’t really make sense, but it doesn’t really affect anything either way, especially since you don’t really move these guys at all. They’re just cut-scenes basically. Anyway, the story is okay, but it’s nothing that will get you a raging nerd-on. It is enough, however, to actually hold your attention and keep you involved and interested, which is more than I can say for most stories in games where I know the story doesn’t matter.
As the single-player story-mode progresses, the enemies RAPIDLY become more intelligent in their strategies to destroy the viruses. By the time you reach the caterpillar dude, he’s tearing through those viruses like a fat girl tearing through a box of Hostess Ding-Dongs. For the novice, you’ve met you’re maker instantly. For the expert, you’ve finally met your match. Whatever strategy you had before this level, forget it. Change it. Dr. Mario 64 forces you to adapt. No longer did my strategy of constantly setting up for double, triple, and quadruple counter-attacks work. I found myself falling behind tremendously. When your adversary is smart enough to set up doubles against you, you’d better just move fast and destroy all the viruses before he does. Jellybob don’t fool around, kids.
I consider myself to be pretty damn good at Dr. Mario and I found Jellybob’s bitchass beating me down like Mel Gibson hacking up that guy with the hatchet about 30 minutes into The Patriot. It was brutal. I lost by 13, then I lost by 9, then I lost by 3, and then I lost by 1! I feel like I’m getting better and making smarter faster moves, but I’m also worried that Dr. Mario 64 is doing “that Nintendo thing” where they realize you suck and start to ease off a little. Regardless, I keep getting beat hard, but I want to win and I know I can do better. So I’ve been at it for the last 33 minutes with Jellybob. Never back down. NEVER SURRENDER!
Dr. Mario 64 takes NES’s Dr. Mario and improves upon it with many more colors, some fun game modes, smooth textures, a good storyline, decent backgrounds, and lots of frustratingly fun times. It’s tough to re-do a classic game, but Dr. Mario 64 did what so many sequels purposefully avoided… they didn’t change too much! Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke, and Dr. Mario was never broken. It wasn’t really a flawed game either. The enhanced graphics and wonderfully smooth textured pills and viruses actually improve upon the original in a way that’s akin to upgrading your NES Tetris game to SNES. But instead of just porting the original onto the N64, Nintendo wanted to give you a new experience. While I can’t say it’s entirely new, it’s certainly welcomed.
Dr. Mario 64 will keep your attention and will be the cause of fun nights with your friends. Seriously, most of your friends have never played it, but I can bet that you’ll be able to talk them into it, and they’ll love it. But DO NOT be that friend who invites others to play and just destroys the piss out of them because then they’ll never want to play again. Be sure to check out the classic mode too if you’re trying to touch up on your roots.
It’s a near perfect game and the flaws are all but unnoticeable. The biggest downfall of Dr. Mario 64 is that I can’t fully call it a NEW game because the game mechanics and concept is exactly the same as Dr. Mario original. But like I’ve been saying all-along… that’s not always a bad thing, is it?
Reviewed by NerdBerry
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