The Year of Luigi kept our green-clad friend pretty busy. He saved some princesses, went to the Olympics, hunted some ghosts, and even went out and got his M.D.! Although, if Weegie wants to get by on his own merits instead of constantly being compared to his older brother he should probably stop doing everything he does (ghost-hunting aside). Anyway, the Year of Luigi meant some great Luigi-themed games for us, including the last new Nintendo title of 2013: Dr. Luigi! Let's see if this medically-themed puzzler benefits from a modern update.
If you've ever played Dr. Mario, you're going to feel right at home playing his brother's medically-oriented puzzle game. The set-up is fairly simple: you're tasked with eliminating three differently-colored viruses from a field by matching up similarly-colored pills in groups of four. These pills each have two units to them, and therein lies the strategy. Sometimes things will line up perfectly, with a yellow virus right next to a blue virus and your pills will come out to match. More often, however, they won't, and you have to whittle down their numbers without stacking the pills so high it results in a game over.
Dr. Luigi offers four gameplay modes. First off, we have Retro Remedy — if you want to play a classic game of Dr. Mario without any new rules or changes, this is where you'll want to go. Operation L mixes things up by grouping pills into L-shaped, quad-segmented units, forcing you to think about things very differently. Virus Buster can only be played using the touch screen. Overall, it's the same core Dr. Mario experience, but you can use the touch screen to make moves that would otherwise be impossible, like dragging a pill directly underneath other pills/viruses rather than having to flip them around to maneuver them. Lastly is Online Battle, which, as you might expect, lets you play online against other players. Retro Remedy and Operation L offer two-player variant modes called Classic and Flash. Classic pits you in a contest of speed, forcing players to compete to see who can compete their virus puzzle the fastest. Flash is a fast-paced mode that’s more about speed than strategy. Both are fun and fast, rewarding nimble, clever players.
The music throughout Dr. Luigi is top-notch. There are great remixes of the classic Dr. Mario tunes like Fever and Chill, new appropriately-named tunes such as Drowsy, and some truly awesome orchestral remixes in Virus Buster. Though you can use the touch screen to do pretty much everything here, you don't have to; only Virus Buster requires use of the screen/stylus, while everything else can be played as you choose. The controls are tight and do what you want exactly when you want them to. If you make a mistake you can rest easy knowing that it's your mistake.
With so many ways to play for so little a cost, it's hard not to recommend Dr. Luigi. The Dr. Mario gameplay has held up over the years because, like Chess, Checkers, or Don't Take a Whiz on the Electric Fence, it's easy to pick up but constantly shifting. Plus, it only costs fifteen bucks to download Dr. Luigi, which, given the amount of replayability here, is a friggin' steal. If you've got a fever, you know the prescription. No, it ain't more cowbell. It's more Dr. Luigi.
Dr. Luigi was reviewed on a digital copy purchased for the Wii U.