He’s done it. Luigi got his Doctorate’s degree in medicine. I can’t say I saw this coming, but in the Year of Luigi, anything is possible. And so, the Dr. Mario series arrives on the Wii U system in its latest entry, Dr. Luigi. These games have always had a way of kicking my ass, forcing me to put the low settings just to save me the humiliation, but this game offers a couple new options to make the game more accessible and enjoyable than ever. It might not be enough of a difference for some, but if you haven’t played a Dr. game in years and are looking for the best outing, look no further than Dr. Luigi. However, people who have played 2008’s Dr. Mario Online Rx for the Wii may not find enough difference to warrant another purchase, but I say it’s still well worth it.
Right away, Dr. Luigi is bursting with charm. I mean both the game and the titular green-capped doctor himself as well. Like Barbie, Luigi is now a doctor just because he can. Actually, it’s really all part of Nintendo’s Year of Luigi campaign, so sticking him in there is just another way of giving the green man some more love. As such, aside from Luigi fronting the game, there’s not much of a difference from the last entry from 2008, aside from one new mode called Operation L, which features a small, but surprisingly significant change to the gameplay, L-shaped pieces. First, let it be known that everything else is completely in tact; Dr. Luigi is the same game you might have played before, with tight, frantic, and challenging puzzle action, with its own concept slightly akin to Tetris and Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo.
The game features four main modes, Retro Remedy (Basically Classic mode), Operation L, Virus Buster, and Online Battle. Retro Remedy is the mode that makes me feel like a little bitch, at least when I play on Normal. Luckily, you can change the settings in any mode according to how quickly the pieces drop, the level, the accompanying music, the virus designs, or even whether you’d like the ghost image to appear, which helps tremendously in a game like this. This all makes the game that much more accessible and less threatening than its previous incarnations. Although, if you’re already a pro, then you’re all set. The leaderboards are calling your name.
Now, one of the greatest things about this game coming to the Wii U is the GamePad, which makes everything just so much better in several big ways; one of which is for Virus Buster. This mode first debuted as a mini-game in Brain Age 2, but has since been included in the Dr. games, and the GamePad offers the definitive version of this mode, which is already a marvelously good time that can range from incredibly relaxing to elegantly challenging. By allowing you to playing horizontally or vertically, options open up, and so does your heart, probably. Also, the GamePad just feels like the best way to play, having Dr. Luigi in the palm of your hands to play wherever, laying down, on the toilet, however. One big reason I bought and then greatly ignored Dr. Mario Online Rx was because I’d have to turn on the TV and accommodate myself accordingly only to get my ass kicked. Now I can get my ass kicked in the comfort of my bed or in the bathroom. The future is now.
As for the other modes, Operation L adds that minute, but surprisingly great change to the gameplay. It makes the game somewhat easier to get into with these differently shaped pieces. Lastly, Online Mode allows you to play Operation L or Retro Remedy, in Classic or Flash mode, against other players from around the world. The lobby seems very simplistic, but it does its job. Online battles run like a dream, although it often takes a little while to find opponents. And when you do, prepare yourself. There are tons of people who are ready to crush your little medicinal dreams. Battles can get your blood pumping, so be sure to get more than acquainted with the game before jumping into the fray.
The soundtrack hasn’t changed much, aside from some very lovely tunes that might as well rock you to sleep while you play Virus Buster. After many years of practicing medicine, you’d think the Mario brothers would find some different music to work to. The few songs the game offers are great, but there should be many more by now. Maybe I’m just spoiled by games like Tetris Axis on the Nintendo 3DS that offers a library of songs, backgrounds, and styles to mix-and-match for a more customized gameplay experience, as well as to just switch things up after a while. Unfortunately, Dr. Luigi doesn’t offer that. It doesn’t take away from the gameplay, by any means, but it would have spruced things up exponentially.
In all, Dr. Luigi seems to be the definitive version of the Dr. games. Playing on the GamePad feels better than ever, with the option of tackling the puzzle action in a handheld format that feels very right for this game. Similarly, Virus Buster finally works perfectly on the GamePad. Operation L spices things up and adds a new, and more accessible, way to to play the game. Lastly, Retro Remedy remains just as challenging as always. Multiplayer battles, both online and offline, work splendidly and run smoothly. However, my biggest qualm with the package is the lack of more customization after years of offering many of the same songs and styles. It would have made the $15 price tag seem like much more of a steal. Instead, they played it pretty safe. Regardless, Dr. Luigi is a great title with marvelous, timeless puzzle action. Whether or not Luigi is actually a good physician remains to be seen, however. There are no patients anywhere in the game, so we can only assume the worst: they’re all dead.
[+Fantastic puzzle action as always][+Four modes that offer plenty of variety][+Remote play feels so right][+Virus Buster finally works perfectly with the GamePad][+Smooth and frantic online play][-May not have enough change for some][-Could have used more customization]