Dr. Mario (Japanese:ドクターマリオ Dokutā Mario) (マリオ博士 Mario hakase) often stylized as D℞. MARIO, is an arcade-style puzzle video game produced by Nintendo. It was originally released for the Nintendo Entertainment System and Game Boy in 1990. Its play mechanics is compared to Tetris. In this game, Dr. Mario throws vitamins that the player must align in order to destroy the viruses that populate the playing field (designed to resemble a medicine bottle). It is the first game to feature another Mario.
A puzzle game similar to Tetris, Dr. Mario features Nintendo mascot Mario as a doctor. Gameplay consists of dropping two-sided vitamin capsules into an eight-block-by-16-block playing field populated by viruses of three colors (red, yellow and blue).
There are six types of capsules, differentiated by color: red-red, yellow-yellow, blue-blue, red-blue, red-yellow and blue-yellow. The player must rotate and position these capsules on top of and alongside the viruses and other capsules in an effort to eliminate the viruses. Both viruses and capsules are eliminated when four or more objects of corresponding color are placed in a row or column. A player completes a level by eliminating all viruses on the playing field. The game will end if any capsules obstruct the bottle's narrow neck at the top row of the field. The game consists of twenty one distinct levels, whose starting virus counts range from four at level 0 to 84 at levels 40 and higher. Above level 40, each level starts with 84 viruses. Levels do not increase in difficulty past level 40. The last level in the game is 40; once 40 is defeated, the game does not end, but rather starts a new round of 84 viruses labeled again as level 40. Much like Nintendo's version of Tetris, the player may choose a level of difficulty to start, along with the game's speed and a selection of background music. Three levels of speed can be chosen: low, medium and high. Choosing the low option will make the game's background dark green, choosing the medium option will make the game's background blue and choosing the high option will make the game's background gray. Two kinds of music can be chosen: Fever and Chill.
The Game Boy version of the game is nearly identical to its NES counterpart. In keeping with the technical limitations of the device, the game features a playfield measuring eight-blocks by 15-blocks and viruses of black, white, and gray. In addition, levels increase in difficulty after level 20 and may be impossible. The Fever song was updated with a few extra musical notes and a slightly faster tempo.
Two player gameplay in either version consists of two side-by-side playfields that can be level-adjusted according to the strength of each player. The first player to win three games wins the match. The objective is to be the first to clear the viruses or to block the opponent's field to the top.
An added element is the ability to "rain" down blocks into the opponent's playfield by clearing two, three, or four separate lines with a single vitamin (intentional branches of vitamin drops which exceed four lines cleared will be disregarded). An alternative method to raining four blocks is to clear four separate lines with two vitamins within the time between your opponents' current vitamin and his next vitamin (two quick double-line clearances, in other words).
The colors of pills rained down upon the opponent correlates to the colors of the lines cleared. Again, a clearance of more than four lines in this respect will be disregarded.
The viruses have never been given any formal names, and are known simply as "Red Virus," "Blue Virus," and "Yellow Virus". The Nintendo Comics System (a series of comics produced by Valiant) included an issue called "The Doctor Is In... Over His Head," which depicts a story of Dr. Mario based on the original NES and original Game Boy titles. The comic names the blue virus "Chill," the red "Fever," and the yellow "Weird." These names were later used in Dr. Mario 64.
In the Super Mario Adventures comic Mario dressed up as a doctor, but was pretending to be a psychiatrist. The viruses also made a cameo as guests at Bowser's wedding.
- In WarioWare MegaMicrogame$ there is a mode called Dr. Wario which shows Wario in Dr. Mario's suit. The gameplay is the same, although the only music played is "Chill."
- The game also exists in Brain Age 2 and can be discovered by touching the bottom slot in the training section, even if it is blank. It is called Virus Buster.
- There are three Dr. Mario prototypes named Virus.
- An interview with Shigeru Miyamoto confirmed that Dr. Mario is not a legitimate doctor.