A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
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.
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?
- 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
For kids who love puzzles and all things Mario
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.