Dr. Mario World: what you need to know

Dr. Mario World
Image credit: Nintendo (Image credit: Nintendo)

Update: Dr. Mario World for iOS and Android has launched a day early, and we have already played through a lot of the 200 levels. Here's how to download the game and what we think of it so far in a hands-on review.

Like bad medicine, we've been served a lot of mediocre puzzle games on mobile in recent years – mostly an endless parade of poor Candy Crush clones. Good news: Nintendo is trying to put a change that by calling in its head doctor.

Dr. Mario World for iOS and Android has brought its nearly 30-year-old brand of color-matching, virus-defeating puzzle gameplay to everyone July 9 (a day early), and we got to test the new game ahead of its official release date.

Our first surprise was how Nintendo is changing up the dosage from its 1990 original to adapt to today's smartphones. It makes sense: the colorful capsules are now 'tossed' upward into the playing field. Why the change? That makes it a lot easier to fling in these pills while holding on to modern phones, which have such big and tall touchscreens that they're typically gripped at the bottom.

There's also a lot more variety to the gameplay and several new doctors on staff – all of them familiar faces in the Mario universe. Another big change: Dr. Mario World is free, but there are monetization options for continuing to play and obtaining extra doctors and power-ups, which we'll explain.

Here's what you need to know before you get addicted to Dr. Mario World and bump to its classic 'Fever' and 'Chill' music remixes.

Image credit: Nintendo

Image credit: Nintendo (Image credit: Nintendo)

Dr. Mario World release date and price

The Dr. Mario World release date ended up being Tuesday, July 9, even though it was scheduled for Wednesday , July 10. It's now available for both iOS and Android. Nintendo is launching the game in nearly 60 countries.

The Dr. Mario World price? Free. Nintendo has inserted monetization options into this game, though. You can either earn in-game coins or spend real money on diamonds. Both are designed to be spent to keep playing levels when you run out of 'hearts' (your play-limiting energy), to recruit new doctors, and to gain special power-ups.

The core Dr. Mario World gameplay involves using as few capsules as possible to rid the playing field of colorful viruses. Running out of capsules triggers a game over and that's when you'll either have to wait to jump back into the solo game – or spend coins or diamonds to get back in right away. 

Good news: playing multiplayer games never has a wait attached to it, so you don't really need to spend coins or diamonds to continue playing in PvP match-ups.

Image credit: Nintendo

Image credit: Nintendo (Image credit: Nintendo)

Dr. Mario World trailer

There have been two Dr. Mario World trailers released so far from Nintendo, one going over the core concept of the game, and the other the multiplayer gameplay. The first trailer is nearly three-and-a-half-minutes long and explores how the game is played.

There's almost as much depth to the Dr. Mario World multiplayer trailer, which you can watch below. You can send lines of viruses over to your opponent by filling up an attack meter. There's a handy mini playing field on the right side of the screen to keep track of how your opponent is doing.

Dr. Mario World characters

Mario isn't the only doctor in the house – he has to attend to his plumbing duties some times, you know. You always have Peach, Luigi, Bowser and even Yoshi on hand, among others.

On-boarding a new doctor or assistant requires either 4,000 coins or 40 diamonds. Each Dr. Mario World comes with special attributes to help you solve puzzles, too. Here are all the available doctors so far:

Image credit: Nintendo

Image credit: Nintendo (Image credit: Nintendo)
  • Dr. Mario
  • Dr. Peach
  • Dr. Bowser
  • Dr. Bowser Jr.
  • Dr. Luigi
  • Dr. Toad
  • Dr. Toadette
  • Dr. Yoshi
  • Dr. Ludwig
  • Dr. Wendy

There are even more assistants that can be called in – and you can use two at a time. They offer smaller perks, like increasing your score by 1%, or a 10% chance of getting extra capsules at the start of a stage.

  • Goomba
  • Green Koopa Troopa
  • Shy Guy
  • Piranha Plant
  • Pokey
  • Spike
  • Hammer Bro
  • Cheep Cheep
  • Spiny Cheep Cheep
  • Blooper
  • Clampy
  • Porcupuffers
  • Spiny
  • Para-Beetle
  • Paragoomba
  • Peepa
  • Scaredy Rat
  • Crowber
  • Bob-omb
  • Buzzy Beetle
  • Swoop
  • Bullet Bill
  • Amp

Dr. Mario World impressions

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Games, like the 1990 original Dr. Mario, need a lot more depth in 2019 to appeal to mobile gamers – we have a seemingly endless number of choices in today's app stores. And yet the gameplay has to remain easy to pick up and play in spurts. 

The core concept in Dr. Mario World counts your usage of two-colored capsules and encourages you to use as few as possible, but there's a lot more to it than that. Yes, you can think of the gameplay as closer to Candy Crush, but one of the knocks to the many Dr. Mario sequels over the years has been it didn't advance the formula enough. 

Of the 200 stages at launch, we found several variations to the gameplay. Sometimes matching Koopa shells colors triggered a satisfying row-clearing effect, other times frozen viruses need to be color-matched twice (once to break the ice and another to eliminate them). You'll also find viruses in jail which need to be freed by eliminating a keyhole first, and classic-looking bombs that take out every virus around it.

There's a lot more nuance to Dr. Mario World than the NES original in 1990s and the parade of capsules moves up the playing field, not down. Both changes are a direct result of today's smartphone environment and, thankfully, don't break the gameplay flow we know and love. They only enhance it.

Dr. Mario World achieved this, at least during our 20-minute play sessions, and we were digging the "Fever" and "Chill" remixed music while eliminating viruses. It's Nintendo's best mobile addiction yet – and it's available today.

Matt Swider