Like with my two other “Timeless?” posts, I’m going to talk briefly about a memorable game from my childhood, Dr. Mario. I had the opportunity to play this classic over the weekend along with a few other NES games.
Dr. Mario released in 1990 and is a falling block game akin to Tetris. In similar fashion, capsules, which can be rotated, must be matched by color to eliminate nasty viruses. Players can change the game’s difficulty by manipulating the falling speed of the capsules and the number of viruses at the start of each level.
It’s a simple puzzle concept (and one that obviously isn’t original), but one that’s relatively addictive twenty-seven years after the game’s initial release.
When I revisit older games, one of my complaints usually concerns how those games look. I played Dr. Mario this weekend on a giant TV, which really showed the age of the graphics. Despite this, it wasn’t so bad that it kept me from playing multiple versus matches against my friend. In fact, I was surprised at how fun Dr. Mario was after all these years.
Playing versus a friend added to the game’s appeal. Triggering combos to mess with my friend’s efforts was satisfying and made the game more intense. And it was fun adjusting the difficulty levels to see just how fast we could play, which usually ended in immediate chaos.
Another thing that surprised me about the game was the music. The soundtrack is exactly what you’d expect from classic Nintendo: fun and infectious. “Fever” and “Chill,” composed by Hirokazu Tanaka, perfectly fit the humorous conflict between viruses and capsules. That was an odd sentence to write, but it’s accurate.
So with that, my conclusion is that Dr. Mario is timeless. Considering how far games and technology have come, Dr. Mario serves as a reminder that solid game mechanics can persist despite age. Having said that, I wouldn’t mind seeing a remaster of Dr. Mario on the Switch. With some updating, it could be equally as fun against friends and in handheld mode.