Released at the very end of the year as an attempt to fill out the Wii U’s digital library, Dr. Luigi is one of the last ways that Nintendo is celebrating 2013, which they dubbed the Year of Luigi. Dr. Luigi is, of course, a spin on the Dr. Mario puzzle games, except with Luigi in the title role. Fans of puzzle games and fans of Dr. Mario alike will find a lot to love about the Mario brothers’ latest foray into medicine.
Dr. Luigi is split up into four different game modes. The main game mode is called Operation L, and it is in this mode that the slight changes to the Dr. Mario formula are the most apparent. Overall, playing Operation L is easier than other modes in this game or other Dr. Mario games because of the shape of the pill capsules used to destroy the viruses.
Whereas in the Dr. Mario games the capsules are just two sections long, the capsules in Dr. Luigi are three sections long and have an extension at the end to create an “L” shape. This opens the door for plenty new opportunities to get rid of viruses and clear the board. I found this mode to be more fast-paced and more entertaining than the basic Dr. Mario fare, to be perfectly honest. Yes, it’s easier, but it’s also more fun.
Accompanying Operation L is Retro Remedy. This mode plays pretty much exactly like the Dr. Mario games of yesteryear, with the same old pill capsules and the like. The only difference is the graphics, which retain the Dr. Luigi look, and the music, which retains the Dr. Luigi sounds and songs.
Virus Buster is a new mode that uses the touchscreen on the GamePad to great effect. Played exclusively on the GamePad, players slide pill capsules around using the stylus, which allows for more challenging gameplay as well as more opportunities to fit capsules in tricky places. An added gimmick to Virus Buster is that pill pieces that are falling down due to having the pills and viruses below them destroyed can also be moved, which adds a whole other layer to the puzzle solving.
Finally, there is an Online Battle mode. Dr. Luigi also supports offline multiplayer using a variety of different controller options in true Wii U fashion, but the online is there for those that want to play online as well. The multiplayer in Dr. Luigi is similar to Tetris, in that the goal is to obviously get the highest score, or you can also win by forcing your opponent to be defeated by adding viruses to their board. This is accomplished by earning combos, just like in similar Tetris games that have been released on Nintendo platforms in recent years.
The graphics in Dr. Luigi are simplistic, yet effective. These games have always walked a fine line between cutesy and generic, but Dr. Luigi is more on the cutesy side of the spectrum. The animation is simple, but amusing and true to Luigi’s character. Overall, the game has a pleasing aesthetic even if it’s nothing that’s going to win any awards any time soon.
Tested on Wii U. Final Score: 8.0/10