July 24, 2008

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Dr. Mario Online Rx (Wii)
Arika, May 26, Rated E
By Glenn "I gotta fever! And the only cure, is invasive surgery!" Given production@hippopress.com

I might not have been to med school but I donít think that you should put this many pills into a man.

Back in 1990, when Nintendo was busy shoveling money into their slush funds by way of 8-bit cartridge sales, someone hit upon the genius idea of knocking out a Tetris clone and slapping the big Nís flagship license all over it. Thus Dr. Mario, wherein a triumvirate of viruses (which have apparently infected a milk bottle) can only be stopped by the kind of pill-pushing doctory that Iím sure whets the bottom lines over at 3M. Matching colored drugs to twitching virus nodules in combination explodes them and helps clear the board. Of course, the speed of pill-popping and the viral load is customizable to a degree that is enviable to the speed freaks and depressing to the festeringly afflicted in real life.

Point being, nothing much has changed since the original NES squoze out a gratingly soundtracked speed puzzler. Yes, yes youíve got some multiplayer and the motion control of the Wii remote comes into play in Virus Buster mode (this, like nearly all features, is merely a holdover from previous iterations). There is a skosh of Mii integration, with everybodyís poorly cartooned Gandalfs, Iron Mans and Hitlers dispensing the meds and waving their arms and such and the shaky lag-tastic online play limps ashore to ruin your afternoon. Seriously, Nintendo, I can understand online flaws in Smash Brothers, it was your first attempt, but youíve shown (with Mario Kart Wii) that you can organize online play just fine, so why this step backward?

Dr. Mario Online Rx is an awkward puzzler at best. Online Rx, like its prequels, fails to meet the high bar of presentation and responsive control set by Tetris. The bargain WiiWare pricing and eerily addictive soundtrack push this up to a B- ó Glenn Given