Spectra: Frag Dolls

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Name:  Spectra

Group: Frag Dolls

Company: Ubisoft

dr. mario

Favorite Classic Game: Dr. Mario

Why is it my favorite: Because I was really really good at it. It was my very first video game addiction. I played it so much that when I closed my eyes at night I would see little pills falling. No other video games at the time appealed to me like this one did. It was the only game I was interested in playing. I played it over and over. I love Dr. Mario.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ziH6tVJwEU[/youtube]

Dr. Mario

Dr.Mario-NES-Gameplay-Screenshot

Dr. Mario

In 1990, the popularity of the Nintendo Entertainment System had hit fever pitch, with Nintendo’s franchise flagship character Mario becoming one of the most recognizable and iconic figures in world culture, thanks to his astounding success in a series of platform adventure games

It was with an element of risk, then, that Nintendo pursued the idea of using Mario as the mascot for a puzzle game, following the achievement of Tetris, the now-legendary Russian implant. Thus the Dr. Mario title was borne, featuring the plucky plumber enduring a change of career as he donned a doctor’s uniform and was faced with the task of clearing nasty viruses by heaping colored pills onto them, with matching hues resulting in cleared elements.

Would the mustached hero strike storied lore yet again with a puzzler?

Dr.Mario-NES-Gameplay-Screenshot

Gameplay

Much like Tetris, the vertically oriented field of play takes on one block at a time, each pill-like piece entering when the previous is used. These pills come in six different types, representing the possible combinations between three different colors (including double-color, solid-colored pills). Making a connection of three like-colored pill portions in a row cleared those parts, including any like-colored viruses touching them.

Ergo, each level consisted of the goal of clearing all the viruses in the field, with more challenging levels adding viruses at the beginning to forcing the pills to fall faster. The cartridge also featured a two-player mode where two players could simultaneously compete against the other, after choosing a level to begin at (higher-numbered choices representing more viruses to begin with), then racing to clear their field. In the meantime, you could even send viral bits randomly falling onto your opponent’s field and potentially disrupting their efforts.

Dr.Mario-NES-Gameplay-Screenshot

Graphics

Although there is definitely a primary-color emphasis, Dr. Mario still comes off as a delightfully colorful game that truly attains a uniquely different feel and mood from Tetris. Whereas Tetris feels like a carefully calculated game of chess complete with classical compositions, Dr. Mario is more like a frenetic spinning dance-game of whirling, twirling color patterns and medical maladies. The animation of the good doctor Mario tossing each pill into the bottle in one-player mode is a nice touch. Otherwise, the graphics themselves are not entirely spectacular, but mustered fine enough for a puzzle genre entry.

Sound

The effects are fairly standard,

but the background tracks are classics. The player is faced with the choice of choosing the background music before a round, much like Tetris, but with fun names like Chill and Fever. Each “song” has a very distinctive personality, and are earworm-worthy in their capacity to stick in your head hours later. The composer was spot-on with this one.

Dr.Mario-NES-Gameplay-Screenshot

Creativity & Innovation

According to Wikipedia, Nintendo actually received a patent for Dr. Mario and its then-revolutionary style of color-coded puzzle-clearing. Back then, the concept of tying colors so intently into puzzle play was an innovative concept. Nowadays it may seem head-scratchingly simple, but this is truly a title for which you have to appreciate its genius in context. For a puzzle game, it was a refreshing new character on the scene; within the greater gaming pantheon though, it was a minor advance.

Dr. Mario actually spawned a sequel, Dr. Mario 64, which was largely the same, except for one important, super-fun addition: Four-player gaming. For this inclusion alone it is worth mentioning, but all Dr. Mario games aside, the original NES release still stands as somewhat of a classic, and a giant in the history of puzzle gaming. For its competent mix of historical significance and genuinely fun times, Dr. Mario prescribes three and a half stars out of five.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ziH6tVJwEU[/youtube]

Eric Bailey is a retro gamer on a crazy quest to write  a quality review for every single American-released NES video game over at NintendoLegend.com.

What is your favorite Puzzle Game?

What is your favorite Puzzle Game?

In the world of gaming where there are thousands of choices, with so many games to play you would think puzzle games would be left out in the cold. The truth is for many people puzzle or mind engaging games are of the best kind. The great thing about a puzzle game is you really can decide how long to play it and it is normally a game you can turn off and on or walk away from in a second if need be.

Puzzle Fighter 2

The real draw for puzzle games today is you can play them everywhere and on anything from your phone to handheld systems to any computer that has flash. When handheld systems hit the stores it was games like Tetris that drew many people to buy them. Many people who you would think would never touch a video game owned a Gameboy primarily for the puzzle games available on that system.

This week on the insider discussion we take a look at some of the more popular puzzle games throughout history and some of our favorite ones.

Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo

I’ll start with my favorite. I have always liked Street Fighter and the idea of a puzzle game mixed with a fighting game really got me into it. In SPF2T you can pick from a number of Street Fighters and other Capcom characters to battle each other.

The object is simple enough. Different colored bricks slowly fall from above; with them are different colored orbs. The orbs when attached to a brick of the same color will detonate all of that color that is connected to the bricks. When this happens the amount of bricks you destroy are dropped onto your opponents screen.

Now depending on how many bricks you drop on your opponent your character will perform a fighting move. The more bricks you drop the more powerfully the move will be. There is a lot of strategy to the game and how and when you decide to detonate your bricks can make all the difference.

The visuals, the music and the overall theme and gameplay won me over and Puzzle Fighter is very popular in Japan. This puzzle game is definitely worth a go.

Dr. Mario

A runner up for me just because I really liked the title and the fact that Mario was now a doctor. However, the Tetris-like gameplay did keep me interested. The idea here is inside the medicine bottle are different colored viruses. Slowly, double colored capsules fall and you have to stack and surround the virus with the colored capsule that matches. If you stack four of the same color it will kill the virus. You win if you eliminate all the viruses and you lose if the narrow neck of the bottle is obstructed.

Columns

This is another fun Tetris-like game from Sega where columns of three differently colored jewels would slowly fall from the top of the screen to the bottom. The object was to line up three of the same color either horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, if you did this the jewels would shatter and the columns would fall and if you planned it correctly you could create a chain reaction when multiple same colored jewels would line up and then shatter racking in bonus points.

To many to name

There are a ton of great puzzle games out there from the PC, Console and mobile gaming world. We asked our panel of gamer insiders what their favorite puzzle games are.

Aaron Hunter from Playtechtonics Inc wrote:

My favorite puzzle game of all time is Space Quest 1!

Jacob Stevens from Riverman Media wrote:

Well, of course I’m biased toward our own game, MadStone! But other than that, I love Tetris Attack and Meteos. Even now, those games draw me in more than any other form of interactive entertainment. Of course, maybe it’s because they are the only games I am good at!

Juan Gril from JoJu Games wrote:

Currently, the last puzzle game I loved was Auditorium.

Winnie Wong from Monkey Plum Media wrote:

I love puzzle games, they are so memorizing! Some of my favorites are Tetris (PC), Peggle (PC) and Hexic (Xbox) and if it’s referred to as a puzzle game – The Last guy (on PS3), others that require more brain power I love are: BrainAge and Rhythm Heaven (on the DS). Not only are these games addictive, but I love the catchy theme music of Hexic, The Last guy and who wouldn’t love to be cheered on after winning a level with Peggle? (Love rainbows, unicorns and fireworks!)