Review: Dr. Mario World

UPDATE: Below, I incorrectly stated that there are no ways to get other characters other than paying for them. This is wrong. You are rewarded tickets every so often that you can use to unlock a random character/ability. You can buy extra tickets, but the game does give you them for playing.

Where do I start? Okay. Got it. HOLY CRAP, WHY IS THIS GAME SO MUCH FUN?

That pretty much sums up my entire thought process while playing through 150 levels of Dr. Mario World, one of the handful of mobile games that Nintendo has released in the last couple of years. Unlike their other forays into the mobile space, Dr. Mario World seems to have hit that sweet spot that has alluded Nintendo. D.M.W is completely free, unlike Super Mario Run, which made you pay 10 dollars for the full game. It also helps that D.M.W. is a forever game, so you don’t have to worry about running out of game to play. D.M.W. is also chock-full of microtransactions, but unlike Animal Crossing Pocket Camp, Fire Emblem Heroes, or Mario Kart Tour, you don’t feel forced or pushed to use them. I’ve made it to over 150 levels, and have yet to spend a single cent on the game.

D.M.W. is a Dr. Mario game, but with a twist. It’s still a match 3 game, with only a limited amount of “pills” to use in order to eliminate viruses, but unlike the original games, pills come from the bottom, and not the top. You can either place the pills yourself, or let them slowly float to the top. There are red, blue, green, yellow, and a omni colored gem that matches with everything. All of the colors can be mixed with each other, since a pill has two sections. This means that you have to think about what you match, being careful that you don’t waste valuable colors.

If D.M.W. was just a simple match 3 game, then it would be good enough, but it’s constantly changing up how levels can be completed. Sometimes, it’s simply remove all the viruses, other times it’s get a certain amount of coins, with viruses blocking them. There are also many obstacles that game throws at you. Blocks, ice, bubbles, clouds that hide color, cages. and many others. Each obstacle has a different way of being overcome. Bubbles, for instance, take 2 matches to clear. If a virus is in a bubble, then it will rise to the top, unless it is blocked by something. This means that if you destroy what’s on top of it, it will float to a new home, which can either be great, or completely ruin your game.

There’s just so much going on, and because of this, the game never gets old. If it wasn’t for the limited lives, then I may never stop playing it. You have a limit of 5 free hearts, but you can buy more. Each time you play a level, it costs a heart, but if you beat the level, then you get the heart back. This makes it to where you can’t get more hearts than what you have, unless you buy more. Every 30 minutes, you are given a heart, until you reach 5. If you waste all of your lives on one level, then you either have wait 30 minutes for another heart, or buy more in order to keep playing. Some might have problem with this, but I find the limit to be good for the game. The main reason I can’t complete a level is due to frustration. When I waste my lives, I am forced to take a break. I could buy more, but I’m poor as hell, so I take the break instead. Whenever I come back to the game, I am no longer frustrated, and I usually complete the level. This feels incredibly rewarding, and it keeps me coming back time after time.

If there is a major complaint towards the game, it would have to be with the characters, or rather the fact that characters are locked behind microtransactions. The game gives you one character, and you are locked to it. If you want another one, then you have to pony up some cash. So far, there is no way to unlock more characters in game, which sucks. If I’m wrong, please let me know, but the only way I know to get other characters is by paying for them. The reason this is so frustrating is because each character has their own special ability. I have no idea who’s abilities are the best, because I’ve been locked to just one. Everything else in the game can be unlocked by either waiting or playing. You can buy power ups and “helpers”, which are buffs to your character that can trigger special blocks, pills, etc., buy getting coins. You get coins by completing levels, and by picking up stray ones that are just laying on the overworld map. You can buy other power ups, but I’ve never found them useful enough to pay for them, plus you are given them pretty frequently by playing the game.

D.M.W. should be a game that I dislike, but Nintendo seemed to have corrected all of the problems that they made in the past, though they seemed to forget all of that when it came to Mario Kart Tour, but that’s for another time. All in all, I love Dr. Mario World, and I highly recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a mobile game to pass the time. It’s free. What do you have to lose?

3.5 out of 5