Title: Dr. Mario World
Developer: LINE Corporation, NHN Entertainment Corporation
Genre: Match-3 Puzzle
Available On: iOS, Android
Official Site: https://drmario-world.com
Release Date: July 10th, 2019
Where to Buy it: Free to Download online at the Apple App Store or Google Play Store
It’s a me, Dr. Mario, on your iPhone!
Dr. Mario World, a smartphone game based on the legendary Nintendo Puzzle game, was released on July 9, 2019. I had “pre-ordered” the free app, which meant it automatically downloaded to my iPhone the Tuesday it was made available on the Apple Store.
And in that short time, I have already made it to Level 113, a nearly impossible puzzle that I fear will keep me, well, puzzled for a few days now. Though my progress has slowed, my enthusiasm for the casual phone game hasn’t lessened.
Nintendo has flipped the script on the “Match 3” style game that has become so popular in a Post-Candy Crush Saga planet Earth. It is a style they helped to pioneer in the eighties with cartridges like the original Dr. Mario similar games like Tetris and Yoshi’s Cookie. It only seems fitting that they would apply that same 8-bit ingenuity to the world of mobile gaming, providing customers with a unique game with unprecedented control over gameplay.
Nintendo has taken full advantage of the touch screen mechanics here, allowing the user to drag capsules around at their leisure instead of having the capsules already falling down the screen like the NES game it came from. Being able to move the game pieces when you want to make for a start and stop experience suited for a game meant to be played in between real-life events that distract us from playing fun games on our phones.
Another innovative gameplay technique is that after three capsules of the same color are matched, you can move the attached capsules of different colors wherever you want to, opening up multiple combinations every time you make a move. Additionally, you can move pieces through walls, provided that there’s an open space behind that wall to place the capsule.
Once you realize all of the maneuvers you can make in Dr. Mario World, the floodgates open and the usual humdrum of matching is replaced by an enjoyable full-contact matching bonanza, an all-out strategic brawl if you will.
But wait, there’s more...
This being a Mario game, there are more customizable options given to the players, like playing different doctors with different special moves that you can employ after they are charged up. For a mobile game, the attention to detail is stunning as Dr. Peach even has a light pink robe to make her stand out from the other doctors.
Dr. Bowser is my favorite doctor, as his power move gets rid of all the clutter in two rows of the game screen.
Each doctor can even have two “assistants” who give little boosts to the gameplay like increasing the score and so forth. These assistants (or additional doctors) can be purchased in the “Staffing” menu with coins, pink tickets you get after beating some of the castles, and diamonds.
Oh, the diamonds.
The diamonds are the typical hard-to-get secondary monetary system that every game developer puts in their app to get desperate gamers with deep pockets to spend their hard-earned money on. The diamonds are the reason why this game is pay-to-play instead of a one time fee like Super Mario Run, one of their earlier mobile releases.
Some pay-for-play games make these items (usually some type of gem as the first monetary system is probably coins or gold) easy enough to gain without spending real money that it isn’t that big of a deal, but so far I’ve only had 2-3 chances to get free diamonds during the game and that just isn’t enough. I’ll touch on those chances later in the review.
When pay-for-play games get stingy with the extra upgrade items, it leaves a sour taste in my mouth, like the recent Diner Dash Adventures game. Oh, and don’t get me started on the Lemmings mobile game, it is a relentless cash grab that is fun to play but will never get a dollar from me because of it.
Dr. Mario World walks the fine line between being shamelessly greedy and kind of greedy but decent, so I threw the game developers a couple of bucks to grab some diamonds and buy a character in the “Staffing” section. I’ll usually spend some money if the game isn’t that bad because everyone deserves to be compensated for their hard work on a quality product.
Just don’t be greedy like Lemmings, though.
Unbreak my heart…
Like many “Match 3” games, you start out with a certain amount of energy, or hearts, five of them, in this case. Every time you play a level, you lose a heart. If you beat the level, you get one heart back, essentially negating the transaction. This only works the first time you beat a level, though. If you come back to replay it, you lose a heart but don’t get one back if you win.
Gaining your heart back each time you beat a level the first time allows for more gameplay than you would expect, but only if you’re good. If you lose five times in a row, you’re done. It takes thirty minutes to get a new heart, too, so recharging takes some time.
In a smart move by Nintendo, you are given an infinite amount of hearts for the first twenty levels in Dr. Mario World, which gives the player time to learn the mechanics of the game while getting hooked on it as well. Enjoy those infinite hearts, use them to get in plenty of practice and get skilled enough to keep winning so you can keep those hearts when the levels start to get harder.
The only way you can get more hearts besides having patience is spending diamonds or getting friends to send you a heart. And since diamonds cost money that I already used to buy a character and this game is too new that none of my friends are playing it yet, I have to play the waiting game.
So at that point, I usually head on over to the Versus section that you unlock after beating level 20. It is rather convenient that this alternate form of gameplay opens up after your hearts are no longer infinite, isn’t it?
Versus Mode is hard to get used to at first, as you are playing against someone in real-time and need to place your capsules quickly before they defeat you. It’s a nice change of pace from the “drop capsules when you want to” feel of Stages Mode, especially once you start racking up all those tasty wins.
For every seven wins, you get a chance to pick three treasure chests, either filled with coins, extraneous cheat items that I never use or the ever-elusive second form of currency known as diamonds. Each time I pick three, I never get diamonds, usually just 50 coins or the aforementioned cheat items.
I wish diamonds were easier to get, usually, when they are I tend to buy a few since the developer was nice enough to hook me up in the first place.
Another thing I don’t like about the game is the lengthy start up time, which was also an issue with Super Mario Run. The game even has to reload if you switch to another app for a few seconds, and when you add that to the amount of time it takes to get back all your hearts it can get old after a minute.
The only reason I’m writing this review is that I have some free time in between rounds of gameplay to do it. I had no hearts before I started this article and now I’m two minutes away from having 2 hearts.
Verdict: Dr. Mario World has some time and loading issues that can be irksome, but the innovative style of gameplay that it introduces to the “Match 3” genre makes it worth a download, so check it out!
And NEVER download Lemmings for your smartphone.
- Great art style
- A wonderful twist on Match-3 Genre
- In-app purchases
- Slow loading times
Husband, parent, writer, emcee, cassette tape collector