Back in June Nintendo announced that Dr. Mario World would be coming to Android on July 10th, so of course, the title has arrived a day early on both Android and iOS. It's a free-to-play release, which means you should be able to install it right now to start killing a few viruses, though the rollout doesn't appear to be available to everyone just yet, so you may have to wait a bit before you can jump in.
Now that Dr. Mario World is here, many of you may be asking yourselves how the title is monetized. Well, the monetization isn't great, but it could be worse.
In the single-player story mode, you'll spend your time working through puzzles by clearing each board of its viruses. Often there is a puzzle aspect to solving these boards thanks to the limited amount of moves at your disposal. You'll also have to deal with a limited amount of stamina once you make it through the title's 20-stage forced tutorial. Of course, Nintendo was kind enough to include plenty of different power-ups that can be purchased with in-game currency as well as the title's premium currency. Basically, if you ever get stuck in the single-player mode, you can buy your way out of a level with ease. Luckily this pay-to-win aspect does not carry over to the multiplayer versus mode.
When playing a competitive game online your match-3 skills take center stage as the only power-up at your disposal is a special move that's tied to your character, and each character has one, which balances out online matches for the most part. Sadly these online matches aren't always fun thanks to a poor implementation of how your opponent's viruses are added to your board. Anytime your opponent clears a bunch of viruses they will be moved to your board (much like in Tetris), but the trouble is that this pauses the gameplay for a second as your board is adjusted, and if you are trying to place a pill as the board shifts, you can't always place the pill in the position you were aiming for. It's also apparent that skill levels vary wildly despite your opponent's trophy score, which means you'll get trounced quite often in the multiplayer mode during these early days.
Dr. Mario World is, of course, a free-to-play release, which means in-app purchases are present that range up to $69.99 per item. Luckily these IAPs don't interfere with the multiplayer mode, so the pay-to-win aspects remain quarantined within the single-player content. Cloud saving is included if you choose to sign in with a Facebook or Nintendo account, which makes it easy to pick up where you last left off, no matter the platform or device you are currently using.
Dr. Mario World offers just about what I would expect of a match-3 Nintendo release on mobile. The single-player content servers as a time waster for unlocking new characters and gaining in-game currency while the online mode is tuned more for fair play, forgoing the power-ups found in the single-player content. I suppose it would be nice to see a more responsive multiplayer mode, especially when placing pills during an opponent's attack, but I'm sure little issues like this will get fixed with time. Dr. Mario World is indeed a polished little puzzle game, and if you enjoy competitive gameplay that doesn't require any money to compete fairly, Dr. Mario World is about as good as it gets for an FTP release. So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and snag the download from the widget below.