It was always a slightly awkward puzzler, always a little too contrived and haphazard toplay on that immediate, instinctive level on which the best of itsbrethren thrive. While its learning curvehas always been fair, the fundamental mechanics of the game still lead to too many instances of random and scattershot gameplay during which things can get far too messy, far too quickly.
You don't always feel in control of a game of Dr. Mario and when things start going wrong, the central gameplay just isn't addictive enough to make you care. More than a few times we've found ourselves quitting out of the game halfway through without a second thought, and that's something that just shouldn't happen in a puzzle game.
So that's the fundamentals out of the way. What about the extra bells and whistles we've got packaged in with this Wii version? Well as the title suggests, aside from the standard two-player VS. and 'Flash' modes - the latter being a competitive variation in which both players are challenged to get rid of a particularly virus in their jar - there's also Germ Buster. This is a drag-and-drop version of the game which sees you using the Wii remote to pull the pills to their resting places, often making you deal with two or three at the time. It's all very tactile and immediate, and at first it's a fun and refreshing experience, but eventually the innacuracy of the control scheme makes it a little too frustrating to deal with. On the positive side, there's online multiplayer, which has run flawlessly every time we've tried it.
We can't wholeheartedly recommend Dr. Mario & Germ Buster. We know that there are a hell of a lot of people out there who still love the core game after all these years, but that can't stop this release feeling like a creaky also-ran. There's fun to be had with it, and if you happen to be one of the Dr. Mario die-hards of the world then the online mode might make this version worth picking up on its own.
But if like us, you can't help thinking of the game as Puyo Puyo's in-bred cousin, then save your Wii Points fora better WiiWare release. Or just pick up Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine on the VC.