After the release of Dr. Luigi, which introduced a new mechanic of having capsules come down in L shapes, Dr. Mario: Miracle Cure prescribes its own medicine for Nintendo’s puzzle series.
That brings Miracle Cures to the fold, accessed by filling a gauge to the right-hand side of the screen either by waiting or by creating combos, clearing capsules and viruses. Once full, rather than dropping a capsule, Dr. Mario or Dr. Luigi will instead drop a Miracle Cure. There are multiple kinds of these, clearing an entire column, all of a row, every capsule of a certain colour when matched, or all viruses of a certain colour when matched. This adds a cool new dimension to the Dr. Mario series, but, for purists, there are options to play without them if you have no interest in putting them to use.
These elements are fun, however, and do change the entire way Dr. Mario is played. As there is no order in which these Miracle Cures appear, you can see which is coming up next which requires you to adapt to it on the fly rather than plan for a specific Miracle Cure. While this may seem daunting at first, the game does provide a special mode that will let you get to grips with this new feature.
There’s also a mode called Miracle Cure Laboratory, which is probably the most fun I’ve ever had in a Dr. Mario game. This gives you multiple missions to complete, either as a standalone puzzle or against the CPU, using various Miracle Cures. Some stages are set in which capsules you get, while others randomise it. There are Tutorial, Basic and Advanced stages, which provide a significant challenge.
Outside of this, there are the standard gameplay modes in Custom Clinic. These are endless puzzles that you can set speed and difficulty level with and are the classic Dr. Mario, Dr. Luigi and slower-paced touchscreen-controlled Germ Buster variations. You can play these in either Endless, Classic where you can set the speed, or versus the computer, with the game keeping track of your records. In addition to that, you can choose whether or not to play with the Miracle Cure. Although you can only play Endless with the Miracle Cure feature included, and Classic with it removed.
Dr. Mario: Miracle Cure also has a multiplayer feature, where you can choose to play against friends locally or take on the world online. The connection to players is quick at the moment but may drop off as time passes. Each player is given a rating and this can increase or decrease in relation to whether you win or lose, as with many other Nintendo games such as Mario Kart 8 and the Pokémon series. You can keep track of your online records, as well as see who the top players worldwide are. These multiplayer modes can be played in Dr. Mario and Dr. Luigi styles, and with or without Miracle Cures that allows you enough variety. With a separate rating for each, it certainly adds a decent amount of longevity to the game.
Graphically everything’s rather basic as you’d expect from a puzzle game, relying on simple models of the viruses as well as Dr. Mario and Dr. Luigi. While crisp and maintaining a solid framerate, which is to be expected for the genre, it does all feel very sterile, but I am unsure if that’s a choice given the game’s premise.
The sound is also basic. You have the classic, yet very hummable, Dr. Mario music tracks and the simple sounds when you make combos and take out viruses. There’s nothing spectacular here, but what there is can at least be said to be definitely of good quality.
Dr. Mario: Miracle Cure is a decent puzzle title. It offers more content at a lower price than its Wii U predecessor in Dr. Luigi. It’s a fun puzzle game to play and the new Miracle Cure mechanics open the game up not only to new strategies but succeed in making the game more approachable to newcomers of the series. That said, for those of you that have played the Dr. Mario games to death, there still may be too little in the way of new content to warrant a purchase, but there’s more than enough to have fun with.