Dr Luigi (£13.49, Wii U) is an update to the classic Nintendo Tetris-like puzzler available on the eShop.
- Classic 'Retro Remedy' mode
- Operation L mode adds L-shaped blocks
- Germ Buster uses touchscreen controls
- Online multiplayer and leaderboards
"Armed with plenty of multi-coloured, two-part capsules, help Dr. Luigi clear a bottle infested with nasty viruses. Annihilate the nuisances by dropping pills of the same colour next to or on top of them – create a horizontal or vertical line of four or more like-coloured pieces and they’ll disappear. Empty the whole bottle to move on to tougher challenges – but if it fills to the brim, the viruses win!"
As with seemingly everything Nintendo releases these days, Dr Luigi is a remake of an old established classic. But this time, instead of totally re-imagining an already beloved game, or updating the graphics to the point of literal beauty, the Japanese wounded giant has instead slightly updated a minor league, but really fun, title, and asked you to pay just under £15 for it. No less than that - but also not much more either.
The game itself is simple, addictive and extremely robust. Like so many puzzle games of its era (Dr Mario first appeared in 1990) it takes Tetris as its starting point, and adds just enough of a twist to turn it into something new. In the game Luigi puts on a white doctor's coat, and attempts to destroy viruses by manipulating dual colour 'pills' which fall from the top of a bottle down to the floor. By building rows or columns around each little germ in the right colour, you can take them out: if a red germ forms part of a four-red line, it's destroyed, and so on.
At first it's a little tricky, but gradually the game starts to shine - as it always has - as you start to see the patterns and strategies that extrapolate from that simple premise. In multiplayer, side-by-side or online, it's much more fun as each cleared line and combo inflicts horrible wrinkles and setbacks on your opponent.
This time around you get a couple of new modes, too. Operation L adds L-shaped blocks, (… for Luigi) but that's a bit of a let-down, as the blocks each contain lines of three colours and so make it too easy to destroy the bugs. You also get a touchscreen mode, which is nice and works well, but is perhaps a bit shallow.
Otherwise, there isn't much different about the game compared to the original- which given its 33-year long history is pretty strange on Nintendo's part - almost as if the game was once intended to be a more thorough remake, but shipped early. The graphics are very basic -- utilitarian and then some -- and there isn't much else in the presentation or mechanics to write home about.
The major downside is the price. Dr Luigi plays like a game you'd buy for a couple of quid on the App Store, and play on the train until you get bored. Instead it costs north of £13, and you can only play it at home. Whether or not that makes sense to you depends on whether you still love Dr Mario enough to cough up the cash, or whether there are enough people in your house who'll play it with you on the sofa.
Then there's the elephant in the room. For with the Wii U in such dire straits, Nintendo needs more genuinely new and unique games on which to peg the console's future - or rather, its rebirth. Dr Luigi is a nice to have for existing owners, but in the wider context of Nintendo gaming it feels like a weird, overpriced and unhealthily nostalgic distraction.