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Dr. Mario – Game Boy

Dr. Mario – Game Boy

cover artPlatform: Game BoyVBA8 Emulator

Developer: Nintendo R&D1

Publisher: Nintendo

Release Date (NA): December 1st, 1990

Genre: Puzzle

Nerd Rating: 9.5 out of 10

Reviewed by Dovahkyle

In loving memory of Claudia Raymond 1926-2002 & Marguerite Anne 1937-2012

My grandparents were the first adults I knew that played video games. You wouldn’t know it by looking at them, but my grandpa was the only person I have ever known who could actually beat Tetris on the Game Boy. I used to sit on the arm of his light blue recliner and watch that high-score rocket blast off. My grandma on the other hand was an ace at Dr. Mario. She, unlike me, would never start out on the slow setting with a low virus count. As much as my brother and I loved video games, we were just as entertained watching her pop Dr. Mario into her Game Boy or her NES. She could flip and spin those bright colored little gel caps and kill those notorious viruses faster than my brain could register what was happening. Needless to say, my grandparents were my first influences into the world of gaming, and I can only hope that I will have grandchildren someday that will look up to me the same way we looked up to them.

Look at their devious little faces

Look at their devious little faces

Dr. Mario wasn’t a game that parents in general were initially excited about. As an after school activity, video games with drugs aren’t what most moms envision their kiddos playing. ACE (Advance Computer Entertainment) magazine gave the game a terrible review, saying it was worse than the original games it was modeled after. Regardless of what ACE said about the title, Dr. Mario has appeared on many “Best Nintendo games of all time” lists. While I have played this game extensively on the Game Boy and the Nintendo Entertainment System, this article is for the Game Boy version on the VBA8 emulator for my Windows Phone 8.


The prescription is fun

Why are we treating germs inside of a vile anyway?

Why are we treating germs inside of a vial anyway?

Dr. Mario is a falling block, puzzle game at its core. The game has a two player option (via link cable) as well as adjustable speed and virus controls. The game setting is a large glass vial that is filled with dangerous viruses. The object of the game is to control falling pills, one by one, that have colors that correspond to the viruses. Once the player has successfully placed 3 pills of the same color on the top, bottom, or side of a virus, it disappears. When the player has eradicated all the dastardly germs in the vial, the stage is then complete and the player is moved on to the next stage. The game provides a certain level of entertainment and satisfaction in the early levels. As the levels progress it becomes more of a stress fest than a game. Cartoony viruses continue to multiply and the vitamins’ dive speed increases until the player is near the point of hyperventilation. Like Tetris, a misplaced “block”, or pill in this matter, could mean a tragic fail. Strategically placing each multicolored dose in the right place, in a short period of time, is paramount to being a successful video game doctor. I am a huge fan of turn-based games, so fast paced, quick thinking titles are not my forte. Fans of quick puzzle games will enjoy it.


Germs that are fun to catch

Those are the exact settings my grandma would beat the game with

Those are the exact settings my grandma would beat the game with

Dr. Mario is fitted with two dynamic action buttons that control the direction that the pills flip. There is also a D-pad for side to side movement or if the player is so inclined, it can also increase the falling speed of the pills. Precise movements are critical, as there is not a lot of room, or time for that matter, to make mistakes. Having a quick response time is equally as important as having impeccable hand-eye coordination. I am not in the league of extraordinary Dr. Mario players like my grandma and my wife, but this game carries a certain level of nostalgia for me, so that alone always has me coming back.


He’s got the remedy

The Game Boy version is less impressive than the NES one, as the GB is black and white. Instead of colors for virus association, the pills have different patterns and shades of grey. I will admit that this version is much more difficult for that reason alone. As for the soundtrack, I will have it burned into my brain till the day I die; by then I imagine I’ll be playing these games in heaven with my grandparents anyways, so I have no illusions of forgetting it. Hirokazu Tanaka was the composer behind this two-song treasure. IGN rates the soundtrack as 7th in their top ten list of best 8-bit sound tracks.


I thought this guy was a plumber

I lose quickly when trying to be like her, too slow DK...much too slow

I lose quickly when trying to be like her, too slow DK…much too slow

I’ve personally been playing this game on and off for over twenty years. I don’t think I’m required to say it, but it has a perfect replayability score from me. As long as I have my NES or a way to emulate, I will continue to punish myself with this classic title. I’m not sure how the short Italian upgraded from a plumbing license to a degree in diagnostic medicine, but I’d sure love to take a page or two out of his book. Thank you Hirokazu for the MIDI tunes I’ll never forget and Gunpei Yokoi for the design of a game that brought my grandparents and I great memories that I will always have with me.

*Note: All screenshots were captured using Screen Capture for the Windows Phone 8

Gameplay: 10

Story: N/A

Controls: 10

Graphics/Sound: 8

Replayability: 10

Overall: 9.5

Written by Nerd Bacon

Nerd Bacon


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  1. Pingback: Go Sudoku - PSP - Nerd Bacon Reviews and News

  2. nerdberry
    nerdberry says:

    I have yet to play this version of the game but I’m a master at the NES version!


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