So in 1989, Nintendo introduced the world to the Game Boy, and along with it, their new pride and joy: they had obtained the exclusive rights to release console versions of Tetris. Now, we all know that Tetris is an awesome game, and the fact that it came with the Game Boy meant that a whole lot of gamers would be playing it whether they particularly wanted to or not. Thus, it was a hit. Which left Nintendo with an interesting problem: how could they make a sequel to Tetris? They had the rights to publish Tetris, but not to make a new game and call it Tetris 2. Furthermore, puzzle games had already become the bread and butter of the Game Boy. They were everywhere. Nintendo had to make a new falling block puzzle which would have the appeal of Tetris, but did not carry the Tetris name, and yet could stand out from Qix and Quarth and Kwirk. Well, Nintendo has always had a very simple answer when they wanted to sell a game based on name alone: put Mario in it. And so, in 1990, the NES and Game Boy were both introduced to Dr. Mario, the first of four Mario-themed puzzle games.
The bottom of the playing field (bottle) is spotted with viruses of three colours: red, blue and yellow. The drugs come in the same three colours. Mario provides capsules with two halves, each half of which is a random colour. So some are monocoloured, while most will be half one colour, half another. The capsules fall into the bottle, and you can rotate them and move them left and right, and also drop them fast if you want. So if we consider each capsule-half or virus a "block," when you align four or more blocks horizontally or vertically, they vanish. In this way, the object of each level is to make all the viruses disappear. The drugs don't seem to work very well, though, because there are more viruses in each successive level. So Dr. Mario is unlike Tetris in that it is not a nonstop stream, but rather has levels with specific goals, each level starting with more viruses than the last. Furthermore, the speed at which the capsules fall is increased every ten capsules. It probably goes without saying that the game ends if the capsules reach the top of the bottle. When the game begins, you can choose which level to start on (from 1 to 20), the starting speed, and the music.
While viruses remain in place, capsules are at the mercy of gravity's pull, and they fall once not connected to anything or resting on top of anything, thus making it possible to set off chain reactions and make more than one row or column disappear at a time. That is important in the two-player mode.
In the two-player game, each player has a bottle of viruses to take care of. It's a best two out of three match, with a player winning by either eliminating all their viruses before the opponent, or by the opponent's capsules reaching the top of their bottle. When you eliminate more than one row or column at a time, two capsules that can't be controlled fall into the opponent's bottle, thus screwing them up in a way now very familiar to players of falling block puzzles with a versus component, as the idea of dumping garbage on the opponent with your own actions is the norm today. Indeed, while the versus mode of Tetris added lines for your opponent to remove at the bottom of their screen, Dr. Mario may well have introduced us to the hostile dumping concept.
And that's all.
TIPS & TRICKS
Thumbs up for Dr. Mario.