Tetris and Dr. Mario
  • Genre:
    • Puzzle
  • Platform:
    • SNES
  • Developer:
    • TOSE
  • Publisher:
    • Nintendo
  • Released:
    • US December 1994
    • UK 07/25/1995
Score: 75%

This review was published on 12/10/2015.

Tetris and Dr. Mario is a puzzle video game developed by TOSE and published by Nintendo for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. It was released in North America in December 1994 and Europe on July 25, 1995. As its title implies, this is a compilation of two different puzzle games, Tetris and Dr. Mario. Two games are better than one, son. Several years prior, these games were released separately for the Nintendo Entertainment System and Game Boy, both of which were 8-bit platforms. Because the Super Nintendo hardware is substantially more powerful than those platforms, this particular compilation also remakes all the graphics and sound in 16-bit. There are a couple of other extra tidbits added to the proceedings, but that's about the gist of it. This is a convenient package for those who enjoy either Tetris or Dr. Mario, or both, though it doesn't do anything terribly remarkable.

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Tetris is the first classic game included in this puzzling compilation. In the highly unlikely event that you don't already know what Tetris is, I'll give a brief rundown. Essentially, blocks of different shapes and sizes leisurely fall from the top of the screen, and you're able to move and rotate them as they fall. The goal is to manipulate the blocks so as to form solid horizontal lines; each time a line is formed, the blocks within that line are cleared from the play area, awarding you, the player, points. If you form several solid lines at the same time, you get bonus points. In the A-Type mode, this continues on forever, but B-Type tasks you with clearing a certain amount of lines. Failure occurs if the screen is filled with too many blocks, because too much of anything is bad for you. Besides the visuals and sound effects, there are no differences between this and most of the other earlier versions of Tetris, which is what's to be expected of a good remake.

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Dr. Mario is the second game in this compilation, and it doesn't require a prescription from your doctor. This game also involves manipulating falling objects, but this time, you're moving and rotating colored pills as they are tossed into a bottle filled with viruses. Every pill is divided into two segments, which may or may not be the same color, and it's your job to line these up with the viruses to clear them. Specifically, a mixture of four pill segments and viruses of the same color must be lined up either horizontally or vertically to extinguish everything. Clearing one half of a pill will cause the other half to break off and fall below, possibly leading to chain clears. Once all viruses have been eliminated from the bottle, you progress onto the next stage to do the same thing again; rinse and repeat. As with Tetris, failure happens if too many pills fill the bottle. Aside from the enhanced graphics and sound, this plays exactly like the NES and Game Boy versions, and that's a good thing.

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This game, or rather, set of games have a good presentation going for them. The graphics have a clean look to them, the frame rate is smooth, and the way blocks or pills snap into position is quite snappy. Obviously, far more colors are on display here, especially when compared to the Game Boy releases. However, while these graphics are certainly better than the originals, they're not exactly impressive for the Super Nintendo, especially for the year this came out. Musically, all the same songs are here, but they've been redone using the Super Nintendo's sound chip. Some of the music is arranged slightly differently, being more like remixes than faithful recreations. The 16-bit remixes of these songs actually sound pretty good, but they still don't beat the 8-bit originals. Disappointingly, however, there aren't many new tracks to be found, and all the new ones stink. Things could certainly look and sound better, but everything looks and sounds well enough for a couple of puzzle games.

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Both Tetris and Dr. Mario can support up to two players if you have a spare controller around and a friend nearby. In Tetris, this translates to both players having a screen of blocks they must manage, and they compete to see who the better block manager is. The conditions for victory change slightly depending on whether you play A-Type or B-Type; in A-Type, players clear blocks until somebody loses, and B-Type is a race to see who can clear a certain amount of lines first. If you clear a bunch of lines all at once, blocks will be sent to your opponent's side of the screen. As for Dr. Mario's two player mode, it works fairly similarly to the Tetris one, except players compete to see who can clear all the viruses first. Similarly, chaining virus clears will send unwanted pill segments to the opponent's bottle. Both two player modes are fun with the right players. You can also play with the computer, but that's not as entertaining.

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Mixed match is the only actual new thing this game offers, though to call this new is still pushing it. Basically, this is another two player mode, but instead of simply playing Tetris or Dr. Mario individually, players will switch between the two games throughout the match. Both players start out playing B-Type in Tetris, and once they clear enough lines, they move on to Dr. Mario, and clearing all the viruses there will put them in the final round, which is more Tetris, except it's now A-Type. Players can advance to different games independently of each other, so one person could be playing Tetris while the other is playing Dr. Mario. After the time is up, the scores are tallied and whoever has the bigger number wins. This is certainly an interesting mode, but it's really not that different from playing the individual games normally. Mixed matches are more or less a novelty.

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Getting two of some of the greatest puzzles games of all time on a single cartridge, coupled with improvements and some new stuff, isn't a bad deal at all. You could say it's fundamentally fun. Purists may want to stick to the originals, however, as the 8-bit tunes and sound effects have a better ring to them. There's also not a whole lot that's actually new here, aside from mixed mode, which isn't anything to get excited over. Still, if you're a fan of either Tetris or Dr. Mario, then this is a perfectly acceptable way to enjoy both of them.

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