Dr. Luigi

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Dr. Luigi Game Poster Image
Tetris-like puzzler is great for kids of varying ability.

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about puzzle solving and practice spatial visualization while engaging in competitive social activity in this readily accessible puzzler. Players need to analyze board layouts and incoming blocks, working out where to place current blocks while simultaneously visualizing how to best fit queued blocks into the puzzle in turn. Multiplayer games will force kids to think quickly as they deal with random changes to the gameboard caused by opposing players' actions. Dr. Luigi requires continuous reasoning and strategizing as kids deal with a steady stream of puzzle-altering elements.

Positive Messages

This game makes kids think ahead. Timed spatial puzzles make players work fast to place a steady stream of falling pieces, creating strategies for the placement of upcoming blocks on the fly.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Luigi appears in a doctor's costume, but he won't fool anyone into thinking he's a doctor. Simply standing on the side of the screen, he doesn't do much of anything that players could emulate, good or bad.

Ease of Play

The object of the game -- matching pills with viruses of like colors -- is simple to figure out, even without instructions. Things can get tricky on harder levels, but players can adjust both the speed of falling pills and the number of viruses to clear, ensuring even beginners can experience success. In multiplayer games, kids can play at their own level to ensure fair competition.

Violence & Scariness

The viruses have little munchy monster faces.


Luigi is one of Nintendo's core characters who appears in dozens of other games. It could make kids consider searching out some of those games.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know Dr. Luigi is a simple, Tetris-like puzzle game that involves placing falling pills within a grid so they create lines of like colors and disappear. There's no violence, though the monster-like viruses make goofy, snarling faces. The action makes kids think ahead, considering not only how to place the current pill but how to set themselves up for success with later moves. Difficulty is fully customizable, even when playing in multiplayer, so pairs of kids with different abilities will be able to play on an even level with one another. Online play with strangers is supported, but communication is disabled, so there’s no worry kids will exchange personal data.

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What's it about?

The download-only DR. LUIGI for Wii U should prove instantly recognizable to anyone whos played the classic Dr. Mario puzzle games, upon which it is largely based. There are four modes, but all have the same basic objective: Guide pills falling from the top of the screen down onto monster-faced viruses with an aim to match the color of each pill to the corresponding virus and eradicating it once four blocks of the same hue have been placed side by side, vertically or horizontally. A retro mode keeps the formula almost exactly the same as it was in the Dr. Mario games, all the way down to the music. The new Operation L mode switches things up a bit by grouping the falling pills in twos, shaped like the letter L for Luigi. An online mode allows players to choose between these two styles of play. A fourth mode called Virus Buster is designed to take advantage of the GamePad, allowing players to steer falling pills using the touchscreen. However, whereas the other modes support two-player local matches and online play, Virus Buster is for one player only.

Is it any good?

If your family members have any interest in Tetris-style puzzle games, chances are they'll have a great time with Dr. Luigi. The pill-plopping action is intuitive and instantly addictive, thanks not only to its elegant simplicity but also to the appealingly retro visuals and terrific music. But the best part of the game remains local multiplayer -- all the more because you can customize pill-falling speeds and the number of viruses for each player. That means an 8-year-old can have a fair game against, say, her older sister or even a parent. It makes for great family puzzle-playing fun. It's a shame there's no support for four-player games (as there has been in the past for Dr. Mario games), but at least Dr. Luigi supports off-TV play on the GamePad, which means you can keep playing when other members of the family take over the TV.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about puzzle games. Do you feel smart when you play these games well? Do you think about the strategies you use or just feel your way through? How many moves in advance are you able to think? 

  • Families also can discuss proper use of medicinal pills. This game makes it seem as though a separate pill is required to eradicate each instance of an infectious viral agent. How do real viruses behave? How do the medicines we use to treat them work?

Game details

  • Platforms: Nintendo Wii U
  • Subjects: Math: patterns, shapes
  • Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: logic, solving puzzles, strategy
    Communication: friendship building
  • Price: $14.99
  • Available online? Available online
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Release date: December 31, 2013
  • Genre: Puzzle
  • ESRB rating: E for No Descriptors
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

Our editors recommend

For kids who love puzzles and all things Mario

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