Dr. Mario (game)

From the Super Mario Wiki, the Mario encyclopedia
Jump to navigationJump to search
This article is about the game. For Mario's doctor persona, see Dr. Mario. For other uses, see Dr. Mario (disambiguation).
Dr. Mario
North American box art for Dr. Mario on NES
NES box art
North American box art for Dr. Mario on Game Boy
Game Boy box art
For alternate box art, see the game's gallery.
Developer Nintendo R&D 1
Publisher Nintendo
Platform(s) Famicom/NES, Game Boy, Nintendo PlayChoice-10, VS. System, Game Boy Advance, Satellaview, SNES/Super Famicom, Virtual Console (Nintendo 3DS, Wii U), NES Classic Edition/Nintendo Classic Mini: Family Computer, Nintendo Entertainment System - Nintendo Switch Online, Game Boy - Nintendo Switch Online
Release date Famicom/NES:
Japan July 27, 1990
USA October 14, 1990
Europe June 27, 1991
Australia June 27, 1991
VS. System:
USA 1990
Australia 1990
Europe 1990
Nintendo PlayChoice-10:
USA September 1990[1][better source needed]
Europe 1990
Australia 1990
Game Boy:
Japan July 27, 1990
USA December 1, 1990[2]
Europe April 30, 1991
Japan March 30, 1997
Super Famicom (NP):
Japan June 1, 1998[3]
Game Boy (NP):
Japan March 1, 2000
Game Boy Advance:
Japan May 21, 2004
USA October 25, 2004
Europe January 7, 2005
Virtual Console (3DS):
Japan July 27, 2011
Europe March 22, 2012
Australia March 22, 2012
USA October 4, 2012
South Korea May 18, 2016
Virtual Console (Wii U):
Europe February 13, 2014
Australia February 14, 2014
Japan February 26, 2014
USA March 27, 2014
NES Classic Edition/Famicom Mini:
Japan November 10, 2016
Australia November 10, 2016
USA November 11, 2016
Europe November 11, 2016
Nintendo Entertainment System - Nintendo Switch Online:
USA September 18, 2018
Japan September 19, 2018
Europe September 19, 2018
Australia September 19, 2018
HK April 23, 2019
South Korea April 23, 2019
The UFO cover-up.:
USA December 12, 2018
Japan December 12, 2018
Europe December 12, 2018
Australia December 12, 2018
Game Boy - Nintendo Switch Online:
USA March 12, 2024
Japan March 12, 2024
Europe March 12, 2024
Australia March 12, 2024
South Korea March 12, 2024
HK March 12, 2024
Language(s) English (United States)
Genre Puzzle
ESRB:E - Everyone
PEGI:3 - Three years and older
CERO:A - All ages
ACB:G - General
Mode(s) 1-2 players
Game Pak
Super NES:
Game Pak
Satellaview soundlink
Wii U:
Digital download
Nintendo Switch:
Digital download
Game Boy:
Game Pak
Game Boy Advance:
Game Pak
Nintendo 3DS:
Digital download
NES Classic Edition:
Wii U:
Wii Remote (horizontal)
Nintendo Switch:
Game Boy:
Game Boy Advance:
Nintendo 3DS:
NES Classic Edition:

Dr. Mario (stylized as "D℞. MARIO" on the western logo) is an arcade-style puzzle video game created by Nintendo, and was released for the Nintendo Entertainment System and Game Boy in 1990. The gameplay is very similar to that of Tetris, although in Dr. Mario, the object is to line up vitamins to destroy viruses.


The following text is taken directly from the instruction manual.

Hi everybody! I'm Mario. How's it going? Over the last few years, I've been involved in some pretty wild adventures. Now, believe it or not, I work in the virus research lab at the Mushroom Kingdom Hospital. Today I'm about to begin my research as usual.

"Dr. Mario, something terrible has happened!"
"What's wrong, nurse Toadstool?" "One of the experiments has gone out of control. The viruses are spreading quickly!"
"Oh No! We've got to do something! I have just developed a new vitamin that should be able to take care of it. I sure hope this stuff works!"

Dr. Mario works in a virus research lab at the Mushroom Kingdom Hospital, alongside Nurse Toadstool. When one of the experiments goes wrong, the hospital is flooded with tri-color viruses. Armed with vitamin capsules–a medicine of his own invention–Dr. Mario sets out to neutralize the outbreak.


Title Screen
Title screen on the Game Boy version

In this game, the interface is presented with a giant bottle, which features a grid that is 8 tiles long and 16 tiles tall. When the stage starts, viruses will populate the bottle, and they come in three varieties: Chill (blue), Fever (red), and Weird (yellow).

The main objective of the game is to clear the viruses in the bottle. This objective can be fulfilled with the help of multi-colored capsules called vitamin capsules. The vitamins have two segments, where each half can come in three colors, and both halves can even have the same color. To eliminate a virus with them, they must be lined up with at least one like-colored virus in a column or row so that the line consists of at least four in a row or column. When that happens, both the viruses and vitamins in that line disappear. These vitamins can also be cleared if four or more of the same colored pieces are arranged in a line, even if there are no viruses within them. The viruses remaining is represented by the three viruses under the magnifying glass around the bottom-left, where they slowly revolve along the glass. If at least one virus is eliminated, the corresponding virus color will flinch and the viruses will stop moving. If all viruses of that color are gone from the bottle, that corresponding virus under the glass will also disappear after flinching. After a number of vitamins are brought to the bottle, a five-note chime will be played which will signify that the speed of the capsule drops increased.

If vitamins are stacked so that one of the two middle spots at the top of the bottle is occupied, the player receives a Game Over.


Game modes[edit]

1-Player Game[edit]

Single player mode.

When a 1-Player game is started, the player has three options: Virus Level, Speed, and Music Type. For Virus Level, one of the 21 levels (from 0 to 20) can be chosen. This determines the number of viruses at the beginning is equal to four times the level number plus four, all the way up to level 20. Although the level number can go up to 24 in the NES version, there will always be 84 viruses at the beginning of levels 20 and above[4]. The Speed setting determines the speed of the vitamins as they fall, which are between: Low, Med (medium), or Hi (high). The Music Type is a choice between Fever, Chill, or Off (no music). For the Game Boy version, the music can be previewed by highlighting the option, whereas this feature is not present in the NES version.

In a 1-Player Game, the score is tracked. In order to earn points, viruses must be eliminated, as just clearing only capsules or forcefully dropping capsules will not contribute to the score. The amount of points earned from eliminating viruses is dependent on the Speed setting, where the base score is 100 for Low, 200 for Med, and 300 for Hi. Additionally, if the player eliminates more than one virus in a single move, the subsequent viruses contribute more points. After clearing all the viruses and finishing the level, the score is carried over to the next level. The basic scoring is as follows:

Virus # Low Med Hi
1 100 200 300
2 200 400 600
3 400 800 1200
4 800 1600 2400
5 1600 3200 4800
6+ 3200 6400 9600

In the NES version, a fanfare will not sound after clearing more than one line in a single move. However in the Game Boy version, a fanfare will be played depending on the amount of lines made, and a special fanfare is played after clearing four or more lines in a single move, something that is not present in other versions.

2-Player Game[edit]

2 player mode
2-Player mode in action.

A 2-Player Vs. game mode is also available for selection. In this mode, two players battle to either clear their grid first, or cause their opponent to get a Game Over through causing an object to reach the middle of the topmost row. The game ends after one of the players wins three rounds. The Level and Speed options are chosen independently by each player before the game begins. For the Game Boy version, a Game Link cable is required to play the 2-player Vs. game mode. On the 3DS Virtual Console version, 2-player mode is not supported.

During a two-player head-on-head game, whenever a vitamin resulted in a chain or combo with more than one line cleared, a corresponding number of garbage, basically single vitamin pieces of colors based on the colors cleared by a player, will drop into their opponent's bottle at a slow pace, similar to the speed of a capsule falling normally in the Hi speed. The number of garbage that drops depends on the amount of lines cleared, so for example, clearing two lines in a move will cause two pieces to fall. The dropped pieces will simultaneously be either in the odd-numbered columns or even-numbered columns. If two pieces drop, both of them are always four columns apart, and if three pieces drop, they will all be two columns apart of each other and won't be two pieces that will be four columns apart.


  • +Control Pad / +Control Pad: Move cursor on the menu screen
  • +Control Pad / +Control Pad (left/right): Move vitamin capsule
  • +Control Pad / +Control Pad (down): Drop vitamin capsule
  • A Button / A Button: Rotate vitamin capsule clockwise
  • B Button / B Button: Rotate vitamin capsule counterclockwise
  • Start Button / Start Button: Start the game; Pause or unpause game during gameplay,
  • Select Button / Select Button: Move cursor on the title screen


After completing certain levels at certain speeds, a short cutscene will occur, along with text that consists of a "CONGRATULATIONS!" message and the Virus Level and Speed that the player has beaten. The cutscenes are different between the NES version and the Game Boy version. If the cutscene has something that moves in it, the text on the screen will disappear or appear depending on the version: they appears before the cutscene is played in the NES version, whereas they start to appear after the cutscene is played in the Game Boy version.


In most of the cutscenes, they start with the viruses will be sitting on the tree. Graphics for a snowman and a round ball exist that are likely used in a cutscene, but they ended up unused.[5]

Level to beat Screenshot Description Level to beat Screenshot Description
Level 20 (Low) Dr. Mario (GB) cutscene - Virus Level 20, Low speed Only the "Congratulations!" message will be displayed, as the background is black otherwise. The music played in this cutscene is a shorter, slower, and higher-pitched version of the normal ending theme. Level 5 (Med) Dr. Mario (GB) cutscene - Virus Level 5, Med speed A book flaps its covers from left to right.
Level 10 (Med) Dr. Mario (GB) cutscene - Virus Level 10, Med speed A rooster slowly flies from right to left. Level 15 (Med) Dr. Mario (GB) cutscene - Virus Level 15, Med speed An upside-down aerosol is sprayed, quickly propelling from right to left.
Level 20 (Med) Dr. Mario (GB) cutscene - Virus Level 20, Med speed A dinosaur in an egg slowly paddles from left to right. Level 5 (Hi) Dr. Mario (GB) cutscene - Virus Level 5, Hi speed A tortoise slowly swims in the air from left to right.
Level 10 (Hi) Dr. Mario (GB) cutscene - Virus Level 10, Hi speed A pig uses its tail to propel in the air from right to left. Level 15 (Hi) Dr. Mario (GB) cutscene - Virus Level 15, Hi speed A witch rides her broom to fly from left to right.
Level 20 (Hi) Dr. Mario (GB) cutscene - Virus Level 20, Hi speed The sky gradually changes from bright to dark, after which a UFO floats down to beam the three viruses into it, and then it flied away. While the UFO is present, the music pauses until it goes away, after which the music continues.

After the UFO is gone, the sky flashed before bright and flashing stars appear and fall from the sky.

Game Boy[edit]

In every cutscene, they start with the viruses sitting at the sea floor.

Level to beat Screenshot Description Level to beat Screenshot Description
Level 20 (Low) Dr. Mario (GB) cutscene - Virus Level 20, Low speed Nothing else happens beyond the viruses sitting at the sea floor. Level 20 (Med) Dr. Mario (GB) cutscene - Virus Level 20, Med speed A nautilus slowly swims from right to left.
Level 5 (Hi) Dr. Mario (GB) cutscene - Virus Level 5, Hi speed A puffed-up pufferfish slowly swims from right to left. Level 10 (Hi) Dr. Mario (GB) cutscene - Virus Level 10, Hi speed A crab quickly scuttles along the sea floor from right to left.
Level 15 (Hi) Dr. Mario (GB) cutscene - Virus Level 15, Hi speed A flying fish flies above the sea from right to left. Level 20 (Hi) Dr. Mario (GB) cutscene - Virus Level 20, Hi speed A UFO flies from the right to the middle, beaming the viruses. While in the middle of being beamed, a coelacanth quickly swims across the viruses to eat them. After the coelacanth swims away, the UFO flees the scene to the right.


The Game Boy version of the game was placed 45th in the 100th issue of Nintendo Power's "100 best Nintendo games of all time" in 1997.[6] The NES version placed 69th in the 200th Issue of GameInformer's "Top 200 Games of All Times". The game placed 51st in IGN's Top 100 NES Games list.[7]

Reviews for the game were generally positive, although there has been some criticism from parents about the medicine in a children's game. ACE in particular was more negative, giving the Game Boy version 510/1000, criticizing the repetitive gameplay and uninspired graphics. They also stated that the game "reeks of plagarism", stating that it was worse than the original games it was modeled after.[8] GameRankings gave the game 69.25%, while review aggregator Metacritic gave it a 66 out of 100 based on 10 reviews.

Remakes and ports[edit]

VS. Dr. Mario[edit]

VS. Dr. Mario
VS. Dr. Mario
VS. System arcade cabinet of Dr. Mario
Arcade cabinet

The game was later released on the VS. System under the name VS. Dr. Mario. Players can spend only 20 seconds on the settings menu. This version drops the Low speed and renames the Med speed to Norm (normal). Normal speed has a grey background while High is now purple. There is no option to turn off the music.

The scoring system is also less generous. In the NES version, the first virus killed by a vitamin capsule yields 200 points (on Medium speed), the second 400, the third 800, the fourth 1600, so each virus is worth twice as much as the last. In the VS. version, the first virus is worth 200, then 400, then 600, then 800, so a virus is worth only 200 points more, and not twice as many points, as the previous virus.


A slightly altered version of Dr. Mario known as Dr. Mario BS Version 「Dr.マリオBS版」 was broadcast for the Satellaview system between March 1997 and June 2000.[9] It has the same graphics and music that was used in the remake from Tetris & Dr. Mario which was not released in Japan. It should also be mentioned that the complete game is still in the ROM, just locked out.[10]

List of re-releases and ports[edit]


WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$! featured a microgame version of Dr. Mario. There is also an unlockable mini game version entitled Dr. Wario.

Another microgame based on this game appeared in WarioWare Gold, with twist controls instead of Mega Microgames$!'s button controls.

Another microgame based on this game appeared in WarioWare: Move It!


Dr. Mario was originally under the title "Virus", which had similar gameplay, but the goal was to cure viruses in a sick animal. What appears to be Nurse Toadstool is also visible in the game.[12]


For this subject's image gallery, see Gallery:Dr. Mario (game).



Audio.svg Title
File infoMedia:DM NES Title.oga
Audio.svg Select
File infoMedia:DM NES Select.oga
Audio.svg Fever
File infoMedia:DM NES Fever.oga
Audio.svg Fever Clear
File infoMedia:DM NES Fever Clear.oga
Audio.svg Chill
File infoMedia:DM NES Chill.oga
Audio.svg Chill Clear
File infoMedia:DM NES Chill Clear.oga
Audio.svg Game Over
File infoMedia:DM NES Game Over.oga
Audio.svg VS Game Over
File infoMedia:DM NES VS Game Over.oga
Audio.svg Level 20 Clear
File infoMedia:DM NES Level 20 Clear.oga
Audio.svg Ending
File infoMedia:DM NES Ending.oga
Help:MediaHaving trouble playing?

Game Boy[edit]

Audio.svg Select
File infoMedia:DM GB Select.oga
Audio.svg Fever
File infoMedia:DM GB Fever.oga
Audio.svg Chill
File infoMedia:DM GB Chill.oga
Audio.svg Level Clear
File infoMedia:DM GB Level Clear.oga
Audio.svg VS Win
File infoMedia:DM GB VS Win.oga
Audio.svg Ending
File infoMedia:DM GB Ending.oga
Audio.svg 2x Chain / Player 1 Attack
File infoMedia:DM GB 2x Chain & Player 1 Attack.oga
Audio.svg 3x Chain / Player 2 Attack
File infoMedia:DM GB 3x Chain & Player 2 Attack.oga
Audio.svg 4x Chain
File infoMedia:DM GB 4x Chain.oga
Help:MediaHaving trouble playing?


Main article: List of Dr. Mario staff

Names in other languages[edit]

Language Name Meaning
Japanese ドクターマリオ
Dokutā Mario

Chinese (simplified) 马力欧医生
Mǎlì'ōu Yīshēng
Dr. Mario

Chinese (traditional) 瑪利歐醫生
Mǎlì'ōu Yīshēng
Dr. Mario

Dr. Mario: The UFO cover-up.[edit]

Language Name Meaning
Japanese ドクターマリオ 知る人ぞ知るUFO直前バージョン
Dokutā Mario Shiru Hitozo Shiru Yūfō Chokuzen Bājon
Dr. MARIO: "Just Before the UFO Known to the Few" Version


External links[edit]