Dr. Mario Miracle Cure
3DS VideoGame Review Written By: Adolph Vega
Nintendo 3DS video games don’t require the usage of stereoscopic 3D visuals, and it’s totally an optional feature to add. That being said, Nintendo first party games should at least try to have decent 3D visuals considering it’s their own hardware, but if they don’t have a good idea for the 3D then why even bother? Two words can describe the stereoscopic 3D visuals for Dr. Mario Miracle Cure, and those two words are “pathetic” and “pointless”. 99% of the game’s graphics are not presented in stereoscopic 3D. The only 3D visual is the opening title visual where you manage the menus on the touch screen before you play the actual game. Since the game menus are on the touch screen you can totally ignore this 3D visual. This title visual showcases Dr. Mario and Dr. Luigi in what appears to be a doctor’s office with a virus sitting in a chair in the middle of the room. The 3D effect is very subtle as it only makes the picture slightly appear to go backward into the screen. I honestly think the 3D feature is so subtle that many people may not be able to clearly distinguish the stereoscopic 3D visuals from the standard 2D visuals because it’s so poorly implemented. I suspect most people who play the game will try out the 3D visuals and turn it off instantly because it’s so trivial and insignificant. The characters of Dr. Mario and Dr. Luigi do animate but it’s only minimal movement. Once you select your modes of play from the touch screen, the stereoscopic 3D visuals are not a factor in the actual game play and are turned off completely within the game. This raises the question, why even bother to have this game be in 3D at all when only one screen uses it, and that screen is barely noticeable and not at all interesting. To call the 3D in this game terrible is an insult to all the other 3DS games that I previously reviewed and gave a terrible score. Honestly this has to be one of the most meaningless uses of stereoscopic 3D that I have ever seen on a Nintendo 3DS videogame. Simply put, these 3D visuals are totally uninspired, and Nintendo should be ashamed of themselves for even bothering adding 3D to this game at all.
Final Verdict: Terrible 3D
Every few years, Nintendo releases a new version of its popular puzzle game Dr. Mario. Each release of the game has some new or different features that distinguish it from previous versions.
The original Dr. Mario game was released in 1990 on the Nintendo Entertainment System. In the game, you play as Doctor Mario, and the goal is to kill all the viruses in the play field with pills. Dr. Mario is a falling block puzzle game that resembles the iconic Tetris. You play in a small area with the pills falling from the top and you must kill all the viruses to complete the area. To kill the viruses, you must align a specific colored pill and match four. Each virus is colored yellow, red or blue, and each pill also has the same color scheme. The pills come in two pieces and many times they are different colors, so you must rotate the pills and move them on screen so you can stack them above or to the side of the corresponding colored virus. You can eradicate the virus in either horizontal or vertical lines of four. If the pill you use has a different color that remaining piece might be used to create chain reactions to eliminate other viruses or may cause the player a headache. The remaining pill pieces must be eradicated by other pill pieces of the same color and this can cause stress and anxiety, as the remaining junk pill parts grow and may eventually cause the player to fail. Dr. Mario really makes you think about the consequences of your actions and forces you to plan ahead. Dr. Mario is a fun and challenging puzzle game that can be unforgiving at times. Unlike other puzzle games you cannot hold or skip pill pieces that the computer gives you.
The newest gameplay twist to the Dr. Mario franchise is the element of weapons. The weapons in this mode will generate in one of two ways. The first way is the level that will have them ready for the player. The second way is to earn a weapon by building up a meter from successful extermination of viruses. This meter is called the ‘miracle cure’ and it automatically fills as you play, and with every virus eliminated it will fill up the meter faster until you will earn the use of a weapon. You cannot select which weapon to use. This element is totally random. One weapon is a bomb, which destroys all the pills or viruses in a certain area. Another weapon eradicates everything in a horizontal or vertical line. Another weapon will eradicate a specific color of objects from the screen. These weapons really make the gameplay faster and easier, and are fun additions to the game. If the player does not like this weapon system they can toggle it off before they begin a specific match in the Dr. Mario and Dr. Luigi modes.
This game adds several modes that were present in the most recent releases of the Dr. Mario franchise. The game has the following modes: Miracle Cure Laboratory, Custom Clinic which houses Dr. Mario, Virus Buster, Dr. Luigi, and two multiplayer modes (online and local). Many of the modes have two options to either play endlessly or against a computer opponent.
The Dr. Mario mode is the standard mode, which I mentioned above. You have many options in this standard mode, including changing the difficulty (amount of viruses in the play field) and speed (speed that the pills drop down).
The Virus Buster mode has returned, and allows you to move the pills via touch screen and is generally a slower paced version of Dr. Mario. This mode is easier than other modes of the game and is played by holding the 3DS in a different fashion. You hold the 3DS in a fashion that resembles reading a book, and the screens are now vertical instead of horizontal. This mode was first introduced in Brain Age for the Nintendo DS and is a fun and different way to play the game. The pills and viruses are larger and overall the tempo is dramatically slower. You use the touch screen to move pills around and tap the screen to make them rotate. After you generate a combo, you can even move the floating pill before it lands. The music in this mode is similar to a lullaby and seems more relaxing than the regular versions of the game.
The next mode of the game is Dr. Luigi. In this game the pill shapes are shaped in an L configuration and are four pieces instead of a traditional two-piece horizontal line. Each pill is just two pills placed together and makes the player have a totally different strategy. This mode is an interesting twist on the traditional Dr. Mario formula but can be frustrating and fun at the same time. Sometimes the L shaped pills will give you what you need to easily eliminate a virus, and other times the L shapes make things dramatically more difficult, as you have more junk pill parts to deal with.
The next mode is the most unique and interesting, which is Miracle Cure Laboratory. This mode is the most exciting and fresh thing to happen to the franchise since its inception. You will have specific goals to complete in each level. These challenges can vary greatly between causing a chain reaction with a bomb to clear out an entire stage, or to complete the level and the viruses are shaped like objects or characters from the various super Mario Bros. games. Some of the challenges are uninspired and only ask the player to beat the level and has no twist. Other levels have time limits or only give you specific pills to complete the level. This mode can be a total crapshoot with some fun unique puzzles to solve followed up by a boring, bland level. Sadly, these challenges are limited, and once you complete them you cannot download or unlock more. I wish the challenges were better organized so you know what to expect.
The game also has multiplayer mode, which is for both online and local play. If you play locally, only one player needs to own the game. You can play Dr Luigi, Dr Mario, and Virus Buster in multiplayer modes but not the miracle cure lab. The gameplay in multiplayer is competitive, and each player has a game field and whoever eradicates the viruses first wins. Once a player eradicates a virus, it will send over junk pills to the other player and so forth. If a player has too many pills stack up and fails, the other player will win by default. The online multiplayer mode is limited to the player and one other, and you can play Dr Luigi, Dr Mario modes and decide if you want weapons on or off and select difficulty. Sadly, from my experience with the online matches, they seem to take several minutes to enter a match. A few instances the matches will start almost instantly but those incidents are rare. You have no idea, which modes have active players and which are empty of players so Dr. Mario without weapons has several players, but the Dr. Luigi online mode is totally devoid of active players. The player has no indication which online mode has the most active players. The online match making system is also totally broken, so you might play somebody who has a dramatically different skill level, and this makes matches annoying. When you do enter a match, the gameplay does run smoothly, but the wait to enter matches is just too long and can take between 5-10 minutes to find a person to play online and this is just not acceptable. I imagine many players will give up and not wait the extended amount of time for a match to begin. I have no idea whether this is an issue with Nintendo's servers or an issue with the lack of available online players. Regardless of the reason for these issues, the online mode is only good in theory but in practice it's a hit or miss feature. I do however give credit to Nintendo for having an option to play local multiplayer with somebody who doesn't own the game. Many games require both players to own the game for playing.
Another element of the game that I must discuss is the music. The original Dr. Mario had two songs (Fever and Chills) that were very catchy and memorable. This game has those songs as remixes and they are bad compositions. The songs are low quality and they sound childish and corny with animal sound effects, record skips, and chuckles mixed in. I always enjoyed the music of Dr. Mario, and these remixes are simply terrible and ruin the songs. The game doesn’t even allow you to listen to the original songs or change which song plays during gameplay, so you are forced to either turn off the volume or listen to the stupid remixes of good songs. The most disappointing aspect of this music is the fact that Super Smash Brothers’ soundtrack has a fully orchestrated version of the Dr. Mario song that is beautiful. Since Nintendo owns the rights to the Super Smash Brothers games, to not include this wonderful version of the song and include these idiotic remixes is a travesty. Why didn’t Nintendo include the original versions of the songs too? The game only has a few different songs that play, depending on which mode and they vary between bad and mediocre in quality.
Overall, Dr. Mario Miracle Cure is a mixed prescription of pain and pleasure that is afflicted with issues. I really enjoyed the clever puzzles in the Miracle Cure Laboratory and the new weapon element within the game. Unfortunately, the online multiplayer assumes too much patience of the player, but the local multiplayer works well. It breaks my heart that the music within this game is so subpar when the series is known for catchy and likable tunes. Dr. Mario Miracle Cure is a discounted e-shop only game, and it feels cheap in that way.
Final Verdict: 6/10
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