In the notes I've made for these games, I've written that Dr. Mario was great, especially when someone else was playing my Tetris cartridge. In the 1001 book, Tetris is mentioned in every paragraph of the Dr. Mario write up, such are the similarities between the two titles - and yet they're not that similar, really.
Both involve falling objects that disappear when you stack enough of them together in the right way, but they do so with different goals, themes and mechanics.
I suspect you know all of this, having already played both titles, but for those of you who haven't, the Doctor will see you now...
Take one bottle, some viruses and a Doctor with some serious pill prescription issues and you've got Dr. Mario, a puzzler that asks you to arrange coloured pills in such a way that eliminates all the viruses present.
There are only three colours of viruses to deal with and the pills you use to defeat them come either as whole colours or a mix of two of the three, meaning you'll have to think fast and react quickly to find the right placement for your pill, knowing that viruses and parts of pills will only disappear if found in a line of four or more, horizontally or vertically.
It is so simple that a child coul- oh, shit. Didn't want to put that ther-No! Damn it! Get over there.
Dr. Mario is so simple that you'll think you have it all sorted out, only to be undone by your own stupidity or sloppy reactions, and often a single mistake will mean the next pill gets placed in panic, trying to correct the first, only to result in an even worse situation. Before long there's a complete and utter mess of pills to deal with, and you've still got a load of viruses buried underneath them too.
Further Fun Times
And that's awesome because it means soon the round will be over and you can immediately try again, that music starting back up, firing you up for your next attempt. This is especially good on the Game Boy, with the music blaring out as much as you can get away with. The colours aren't exactly colourful, but they do the job.
That's all there is to Dr. Mario. Your story is to eliminate viruses in a bottle while reaching for the high score and all the bragging rights that come with it, just like Tetris. It is an addictive little time sink, just like Tetris.
It's not as good as Tetris, but I'm not going to complain if I only had Dr. Mario, and nor would you.
If you've not played it yet, do so. Doctor's orders.
The patent for Dr. Mario has some choice words for Tetris, I assume to make sure it clearly differentiated itself from it: "Tetris is a simple game which ... soon becomes monotonous and boring." Shots fired.
Dr. Mario, developed by Nintendo R&D1, first released in 1990.
Version played: NES, 1990, via emulation.
Game Boy, 1990, via childhood memory and emulation.