By now, Nintendo is no stranger to the mobile gaming industry. From humble beginnings with Miitomo to putting a bevy of our favorite franchises on our phones, there’s no sign of stopping. Their most recent title, Dr. Mario World, brings one of my favorite puzzle classics to small screens everywhere, giving it a distinctly mobile game refresh.
Dr. Mario World has a simple story: viruses are taking over the Mushroom Kingdom, causing harm to Mario’s friends and enemies alike. Donning his white coat, Mario sets off to eliminate the pesky viruses, stage by stage. After playing through ten stages, you’re given the option to pick one of the three starting doctors: Mario, Peach, or Bowser, with the ability to unlock the others, and more, down the line. Playing a stage spends one heart, which will take half an hour to regenerate on its own, but successfully beating one for the first time will earn you a heart as well. On top of that, you’ll have infinite hearts up to stage 20, allowing you to get your feet under you before progressing to harder and harder stages, after stage 20 though, 5 hearts is your cap, and you’ll probably hit it pretty quickly. This is a decent system, meaning if you’re on a roll you can continue playing with nothing to stop you, but if you struggle on a single stage you’ll find yourself spending a heart for each attempt.
Completing stages also grants coins that can be used to bring new doctors and assistants into the fold. 4,000 coins gives you one summon chance, and so far I’ve only been able to get assistants each time I’ve summoned, which makes sense, considering the assistants do have a slightly higher chance of being summoned, in addition to being more plentiful than the doctors available on launch. You can also spend Diamonds, Dr. Mario World’s paid currency, to summon characters at 40 diamonds a piece.
This paid currency is the heart of what a lot of players’ gripes with Dr. Mario World are going to come from. Want more lives? Pay some Diamonds. Want some items to help you clear that difficult stage? Pay some Diamonds. The mobile game market is flooded with games that will try and squeeze money out of their players in order for them to keep playing, and unfortunately a lot of Dr. Mario World falls in line with this. It’s understandable; Nintendo wants their mobile games to make money, after all.
If you’re not a fan of Dr. Mario World’s stages feeling more like Candy Crush than Dr. Mario, Versus Mode will have you feeling right at home. Playing against another player costs nothing, and it can be plenty exciting when you get down to the wire, hoping you can clear your board just a little bit faster than your opponent. Clearing Viruses in Versus Mode will fill your attack meter, which causes your opponents board to shrink, giving them less room to work with. If a virus touches the bottom of either player’s board, the match is over and that player loses. The matchmaking of random opponents has seemed pretty fair so far, and the higher I climb the more difficult my opponents become — and the more exciting each match gets. Having the most exciting and Dr. Mario-feeling game mode be absolutely free is a huge plus for Dr. Mario World, and I’m happy to spend some time in Versus each time I’m waiting for my hearts to regenerate.
Overall, Dr. Mario World isn’t the game I know and love, but it’s plenty of fun. A lot of players will gripe about the Diamonds and about how the small heart cap make it feel like they’re trying to get you to spend money, and I can’t argue with that; but with the ability to head over and play the more exciting Versus mode at no cost, I can’t complain too much either. With plenty of familiar faces already available as doctors, and plenty more characters earning their MD soon, I’m already in love with the roster too. Time will tell if feedback will lead to any adjustments as far as real-world spending is concerned, but I don’t think it’s likely.
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