When I'd posted about my playthrough of Dr. Mario 64 about five months ago I'd mentioned that I've still been playing the smartphone app Dr. Mario World regularly and that my rating of it has improved a lot since I originally blogged about it last summer. Recently I beat level 500 of the regular mode, so I figured now was a good time to take another look at the game.

When I first played the game last summer I'd enjoyed how much the game had moved the series forward, but after a year and a half of playing it every day I can definitely say that the game is worthy of being included on a list of best games of all time. The game has added some new hazards and doctors (i.e. characters with unique specials) over the past year and a half, and the variety of stages and doctors itself is very satisfying and would be noteworthy. However, one feature that they've added a few months ago is the summit mode, which has been a big boon overall in terms of balancing the free-to-play aspect with the difficulty of some of the stages. The summit is a collection of stages that stick around for a few weeks, and there are four sets of stages. The easiest two sets are a breeze to get through, but the difficulty really ramps up in the third set (seemingly requiring you to be a whale or pony up cash for special items), and the fourth set requires you to have specific doctors to participate. That description makes it sound like the summit mode is a pain, but the big benefit of it and part of its main purpose is that, if you beat all of the first or second sets of stages, it provides you with a way to accelerate your doctors' specials and add a bonus to your score on each stage you play in the regular mode. This gives you an easy way to increase your score to get those elusive three-star ratings for those stages, which, for a free-to-play completist like me, is a huge plus. There's a big limitation in activating these bonuses since they're only available for 24 hours, but since I mostly just play a few stages a day it's just as well that I feel compelled to play for a longer burst of time only a couple of days every few weeks.

Along with this big F2P quality of life improvement, the developers have rebalanced the older timed stages, which were noticeably overly difficult, and also periodically rebalanced underpowered doctors' abilities. It's now easier to appreciate the variety that the timed stages provide. They've tweaked the versus mode as well in the form of rotating spotlight doctors who get bonuses in that mode (e.g. increased attack, defense, and special meter filling). This is a plus for long-time players like me who have accrued a wide variety of doctors to choose from, and also adds some more variety to the versus mode since you're not just using the same doctor every time. Even though I don't seem to be particularly good at the versus mode, it still provides a nice change of pace since the majority of regular stages aren't timed, so I'm fine with playing the minimum number of matches in order to fulfill the daily missions.

Overall I've been pleasantly surprised at how much longevity the game has had for me. I definitely haven't gotten tired of it yet, and there are plenty of more regular mode stages for me to tackle whenever I feel the urge. Even though I don't feel the need to whale for specific doctors or anything, I wouldn't mind throwing some money at it at some point to show my appreciation for the hours I've spent enjoying the solid gameplay. The gacha mechanics are pretty unobtrusive, and it says something that this is one of the rare games my SO has played for any length of time. I don't expect any huge changes to the game from here on out, but even without any major new features I can see myself continuing to play this a bit every day for a good while still. Even though this isn't a flashy title by any means, this is a rare game that has a surprising amount of variety and longevity, and for me is one of Nintendo's most successful forays into mobile gaming to date.


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