Dr. Luigi




Tetris-like puzzler is great for kids of varying ability.

What parents need to know

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

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.

Not applicable

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.

Privacy & safety

Mild privacy and safety concerns. Kids can play online with friends or strangers but can't communicate in any way. 

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 kids can learn



  • patterns
  • shapes


Thinking & Reasoning

  • logic
  • solving puzzles
  • strategy


  • friendship building

Engagement, Approach, Support


The game is highly accessible, and it's easy to find success early on. Kids with a taste for real-time puzzle games will probably be taken with Dr. Luigi within minutes.

Learning Approach

Kids' spatial-visualization skills will get a workout. They'll need to think strategically, working out ahead of time how and where to place upcoming blocks while reacting to dynamic events.


Kids will learn to play simply by experimenting. It won't take more than a few minutes for them to figure out all the basic rules. Then it's not so much a matter of support as practice.

What kids can learn



  • patterns
  • shapes


Thinking & Reasoning

  • logic
  • solving puzzles
  • strategy


  • friendship building

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.

This Learning Rating review was written by Chad Sapieha

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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.

Families can talk 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
Available online?Available online
Release date:December 31, 2013
ESRB rating:E for No Descriptors

This review of Dr. Luigi was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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