There is no doubt that Mario has had several occupations across his lifetime, and one of them started 25 years ago when he became a doctor with the NES game Dr. Mario.
Despite not being an anniversary title, Dr. Mario: Miracle Cure includes all the game modes from previous entries in one package, including a few new mechanics as a way to keep it fresh; however, not everything is miraculous as it seems.
For those new to the series, the core design of Dr. Mario is really simple: you move colored pills as they fall in the level, needing to flip them around in order to line up four or more segments or viruses of the same color. Your objective is to get rid of all the viruses on the screen, but if the wall of pills reaches the top of the screen, it is game over. The same goes for Dr. Luigi, but there is a difference: this time two pills will be falling at the same time in an L shape.
The third mode is called Virus Buster. This mode plays the same way, but with a twist: you can freely move the falling pills around the screen using the touch screen. Unlike both previous modes, you need to put your 3DS in a horizontal position.
The Miracle Cure is a new element introduced to this old formula: it is nothing new for puzzle games in general but rather a safe addition. In this new mode, a meter can be found on the screen that will be filled over time, and once it is filled a power-up will fall instead of a pill which can have different effects. This process can be sped up by destroying viruses or stringing together chains.
They are four types of ‘miracle cures’: Capsule Blasters, Virus Blasters, Zappers and Exploders. The Blasters (Capsule and Virus) will clear all the capsules or viruses of the same color when matched, the Zappers will clear everything in a row, column or both after being placed, and the Exploder works like a bomb that will clear everything in an indicated area.
You will find three additional cures that are exclusive when playing against the CPU or another player: the Reverser will invert the left and right controls, the Locker will disable the option to rotate capsules for a short time, and the Booster makes the capsules drop faster.
When you start the game you have three options: the Miracle Cure Laboratory, the Custom Clinic, and the online options. The former features a total of 50 puzzles, making use of the new mechanics and also a tutorial option if one needs an introduction to the game.
The Custom Clinic option allows the player to play the three modes including a few options: you can freely play Dr. Mario and Dr. Luigi endlessly, against the CPU, or choose Virus Blaster clearing stages and moving to the next one. The Miracle Mode is also available as an option, but only when you play both doctor modes.
After you choose what to play, you can freely change the difficulty or the speed when playing the Virus Buster mode or against the CPU, but this option is missing if you opt for the endless mode.
For those looking for an experience like the old NES game, you may consider purchasing this. Unfortunately, you can’t start with just one type of virus and advance stage by stage, so your only alternative is buying the Virtual Console title instead.
In the multiplayer, you can play either Dr. Mario or Dr. Luigi with the only option to enable the Miracle Cure mechanics. While you can play against anyone locally thanks to the integration of Download Play, the online mode is limited to just players across the globe, a step backwards from the last entry.
This is bad news for online enthusiasts: the mostly inactive community with some unstable connections can be a big letdown for the player. Despite my first failed attempt to find a match after waiting one hour, I was able to find a few players the next day. Although the experience was free of lag, I got disconnected a couple of time regardless of whether I was winning or losing.
In the visual department the game shares a similar interface with Dr. Luigi but with a less complex menu. While it looks nice, both brothers keep swinging their arms in a very exaggerated way. For some odd reason, the 3D effect is missing during the gameplay but works in the title screen.
For those interested in the music, the soundtrack is the same as in Dr. Luigi, but this time you are not able to choose the song like in previous entries. They are only chosen randomly.
In conclusion, Dr. Mario: Miracle Cure offers an entertaining experience for puzzle enthusiasts; however, if you already own Dr. Luigi or want to experience the old NES gameplay, you may want to skip this latest entry.