If you've ever played his brother's puzzle outings then you will know what to expect from Luigi. Besides a few noteworthy changes, Dr. Luigi is the same basic game as Dr. Mario. It's still a solid and fun puzzle game that is simple to play and hard to master.
The first noticeable upgrade is the presentation. The opening screen shows a short scene with Luigi and the 3 mischievous viruses that he'll be dealing with. Luigi looks great as the graphics are super sharp and colourful. When you start a single player game you will see Luigi present it as the curtain opens and short scenes play as you finish levels. Nice touches like this make the game more enjoyable.
The game is played by matching four or more of the same colour blocks to make them disappear. If any of those blocks are viruses then they will also disappear. There are 3 main modes which are the classic formula where you drop 1x2 block rotatable pills (Retro Remedy), a new mode where you drop 2 pills at a time that are combined in an "L" shape (Operation L), and a mode that's like Retro Remedy but you play with touch controls on the GamePad (Virus Buster). Operation L is a nice take on the Dr. Mario formula as it adds some complexity to the puzzles. Retro Remedy and Operation L can be played in Classic mode where you try to clear all the viruses or Flash mode where you try to clear the flashing viruses before your opponent and only one virus will flash at a time. These can be played either by yourself, with a friend, or online against friends or strangers. Being able to play online is a very cool addition especially if you have friends to play against. Classic can be played in single player either against the CPU or by yourself. Virus Buster mode has no variations and must be played by yourself. This mode feels completely unnecessary as it's hard to imagine how anyone would prefer playing with touch controls as opposed to using a controller.
There are a few options such as being able to switch between the classic or new designs of the viruses, turning the capsule ghost image on or off, and being able to select the level, speed, and music before a game. There are only two songs to select from in each mode. Retro Remedy's songs are redone versions of classic Dr. Mario tracks and are catchier than a cold. Virus Buster features slower and more relaxing versions of the same 2 songs. It would have been nice to be able to hear the original songs as well, but the redone songs are good enough. Operation L features 2 completely new songs that are pretty fun but not as catchy as the originals.
An annoying issue with Dr. Luigi is that the GamePad must be used at all times. This means that whether you play by yourself, online, or against a friend someone must always be using the GamePad. Surely the Pro Controller, Classic Controller, or even the Wii Remote would be preferable to most gamers. The controls are tight but would feel more natural if you weren't forced to hold the massive GamePad.
Another issue is that playing single player has no replay value other than trying to beat your score. There are no unlockables or player progression of any kind. It would have been nice to see some kind of story mode, stages that can be checked off as you clear them, or any mechanism to keep gamers coming back. Basically, if you're planning on playing Dr. Luigi mostly in single player then the only way you will enjoy it continually is if you like to beat your own scores.
Although Dr. Luigi isn't much of a step-up from other Dr. Mario games, the great presentation, Operation L mode, and being able to play online will make it a worthwhile download for fans of the series while newcomers will appreciate the simple yet hard to master gameplay.
- + Operation L adds some complexity to the classic Dr. Mario formula
- + Being able to play online is a nice addition
- + Sharp graphics and catchy music
- - No replay value for single player other than to beat your own score
- - The GamePad must be used at all times