Dr. Mario & Puzzle League GameBoy Advance Review

Nintendo's being wise in giving both the Nintendo DS and the Game Boy Micro a push for the holiday season. And while the DS is getting some top-notch games such as Mario and Luigi: Partners In Time and Mario Kart DS, the Game Boy is nothing to be ignored. Final Fantasy IV is on its way, Gunstar Super Heroes is worth your attention, and now we have this, Dr. Mario & Puzzle League, a gathering of two of Nintendo's puzzle games around into one convenient cartridge.

The two games involved are certainly recognizable to Nintendo-philes, I'm sure. Dr. Mario debuted on the NES many years ago and has since grown quite into quite the phenomenon, almost up there with the many renditions of Tetris. In the game, Mario, dressed up in full doctor garb, tosses pills into the fray, and you must line up rows of colors along the germs that are on the playfield to eliminate them. Simple by nature, to be sure, but the game speeds up as you move along and soon your'e moving pills frenetically in an attempt to keep up.

Puzzle League has seen a release numerous times, both with the Yoshi and the Pokemon monikers. In the game, you're given a playfield with a number of shapes stacked across it, and you must put them into rows or columns of three to eliminate them. Again, it sounds easy, and the gameplay is rather simple to get into. But the shapes move upward and go faster with each round, so if you're not careful, you'll find yourself out of the game with a completely full playfield. Ouch.

Why Puzzle League was brought over without either of the licenses it was attached to before is beyond me, but it leads to the big complaint about this game. Sure, there's two player action when you and a buddy hook up. But the games seem basic in their presentation, as if they were merely slapped together and then thrown onto a cartridge with only crazy glue to hold them together. Sure, the nature of the general puzzle games remain the same, but would it have hurt to throw in a snazzier presentation to remind us this is a Game Boy Advance game, and not the NES?

Past that, the games still play fine, and the graphics and sound, while nothing amazingly new, manage to convey the classic nature of both of these games. And as long as the gameplay hasn't been severely altered, like with what Nintendo did to the disastrous Tetris 2, I guess there's not much room to complain. Dr. Mario & Puzzle League is still a very solid release for the GBA and quite the stocking stuffer if all you have is the basic Nintendo handheld, but next time we get a release such as this, let's touch it up a little bit more. After all, putting this against Partners In Time and Mario Kart? That's like trying to snack on rice cakes when chocolate bars are available.

What's Hot: It's two great classic NES puzzle games in one.

What's Not: It's two old NES puzzle games in one, with little touch-up.