|System: Wii U|
|Release: December 31, 2013|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Becky Cunningham
Dr. Mario may not be one of Nintendo's best-known franchises, but the addictive falling block matching game has a healthy fan base. The Wii U's version of the game has been twisted a bit, renamed Dr. Luigi and given a few new game modes, but at its heart it's the same old Dr. Mario that fans know and love.
We suspect that Luigi received his PhD from Wossamotta U, but he appears enthusiastic and ready to bust some viruses. His main menu boasts four options: Retro Remedy, Operation L, Virus Buster, and Online Battle.
Retro Remedy features classic Dr. Mario gameplay. The game field is shaped like a beaker, in which various colored viruses reside. Dual-colored pills drop in from the top, challenging the player to match four items (any combination of viruses and pill halves) of the same color either horizontally or vertically. Making matches clears viruses, and clearing a beaker of viruses completes the level. If the beaker fills to the top, the player loses. As is traditional, the game's speed and the number of viruses increases as the player completes levels. Just like Tetris, Dr. Luigi's classic mode combines the need for speed and strategy for fun and addictive gameplay.
Operation L is exactly the same as Retro Remedy, but the pills that drop are L shaped, containing three vertical pill segments and one horizontal one. The L shaped pills require more planning and strategy than the traditional ones, but it doesn't take long to get in the swing of this mode. I personally find that I prefer it to classic Dr. Mario because of the slight uptick in challenge level.
Retro Remedy and Operation L can both be played in versus mode locally, either against the CPU or another human player. A classic match requires one player to zap all viruses before the other. Making multi-match combos drops random pill bits into the other player's beaker, so an alternate method of winning involves making enough combos that the other can't keep up and loses with a full beaker. Flash mode works the same way, but is a frantic race to eliminate several specific flashing viruses.
Multiplayer is where Operation L really shines. Making a combo swaps around the colors of the next L piece that's about to drop in the opponent's beaker. This requires very quick thinking and strategy, making for exciting matches in which the tide can turn at any moment.
Thankfully, Nintendo included an anonymous online battle mode in Dr. Luigi as well, finally allowing players to battle it out with complete strangers and compete on global leaderboards. When I tried out this mode, I was quickly matched with another player and experienced smooth, lag-free gameplay.