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One of the surprise announcements during the December 18th Nintendo Direct was that another Luigi game was hitting the Wii U before the year’s end, this time a new spin on Nintendo’s classic puzzle series, Dr. Mario. Appropriately named Dr. Luigi, this eShop title brings the series to Wii U, but unfortunately it does little else.
Dr. Luigi has three modes: Retro Remedy, Virus Buster and Operation L, and all these modes can be played on the TV or better yet right off the Gamepad without having to push a button. Retro Remedy is the standard Dr. Mario experience, with the same gameplay and all of the same customization. If you haven’t played Dr. Mario, it is much like Tetris but instead of clearing lines, you’re clearing viruses by lining them with four of the same color (red, yellow and blue) pills. Despite being no different than the game on the NES that’s now well over twenty years old, it is still as fun as ever.
Virus Buster returns from the last installment on WiiWare, Dr. Mario Online Rx, and it is mainly the gimmick mode. The player used the Wii remote to aim the pills to their destination in the WiiWare game, but this game uses the much more logical Gamepad touch screen. While the Gamepad is better than a Wii Remote in every way for this mode, it didn’t make it any less gimmicky or forgettable. It is not as fun as the Retro Remedy and it is best left alone.
Operation L is the only new content in Dr. Luigi, and though it was the mode I spent the most time with, I realized it was because it was pitifully easy. This new mode drops two pills at once, shaped like L’s, but the problem is that the long part of the L is the same color every time so you always have three in a row of something. This allows you to just clear anything you’d like just by touching one more of the same color, including viruses. On top of that, unlike Retro Remedy, these viruses don’t climb too high on the screen due to the length of these pills, so the screen can be cleared in no time.
Both Operation L and Retro Remedy have multiplayer modes, both online and off, and the online played flawlessly, at least for me. Rushing to clear your viruses, or better yet the “Flash” modes where you have to clear select flashing viruses, and they always add a sense of exhilarating rush to the standard puzzle formula. While all of this seems great, and it is, it’s again nothing we haven’t seen in Dr. Mario Online Rx.
Dr. Luigi is a solid version of the Dr. Mario series, it just seems Arika just copy/pasted its code from Dr. Mario Online Rx and added one new mode. If you don’t currently own a version of Dr. Mario, I do recommend this version can be played on the Gamepad’s nice big screen or nicely on a HDTV. The $15 price is a little much, especially compared to many of the cheap puzzlers you can get on any other platform, but gameplay in the Dr. Mario games is fun, pretty unique and was built for both single and multiplayer.