I’ll spare you a lengthy “how to play Dr. Mario” portion because you probably know the basics. Match the colored pills on the viruses to wipe clear them from the container is how Dr. Mario worked on the NES. Dr. Mario on the Wii works the same way.
However, when you start Dr. Mario & Saikin Bokumetsu you are given a choice between playing Dr. Mario or a new mode optimized for Wii remote control called Saikin Bokumetsu (Bacteria Exterminator). In this mode you point at the colored pills, press the A button and drag them into place. The “B” button is used to rotate them 90 degrees. Compared to regular Dr. Mario the pills crawl to the bottom of the screen, which on the surface sounds like you have plenty of time to react. In some sense this is true before the pieces fall you have more a few seconds to cogitate, but the screen is much smaller. There are only 36 blocks (6 x 6 board size) for viruses and pills in Saikin Bokumetsu compared to a wider and larger container in classic Dr. Mario. The screen starts filling up with pills as multiple doses of medicine drop from the top. Up to three pieces can fall at the same time.
While a single player shouldn’t have a problem guiding three pills at once, Saikin Bokumetsu is really designed as a party game. When you have a friend you can divvy up the work and accidentally mess each other’s placement up. Each person can grab a pill and move it in place. However, once a person grabs a pill you can’t steal it from them by pointing at it and mashing the “A” button. It’s their piece until they let go of it. Saikin Bokumetsu is not competitive, it’s cooperative.
The competitive experience is found in the online multiplayer mode. You can meet up with a friend or challenge a random player through Nintendo Wi-Fi. Once logged in you see your Mii and your opponent’s Mii dressed in lab coats. These characters separate the containers with identical virus placement. Whoever clears the viruses first bumps up their ranking.
I spent most of my time playing Dr. Mario & Saikin Bokumetsu online and the mode feels lag free. I also learned I’m horrible at Dr. Mario because I spend way too much time trying to combo my pieces rather than look for the fastest way to eliminate my viruses. This is a battle of speed, not points! Flash mode, a new mode where you only need to eliminate flashing viruses to win, involves more thought. You have to carve a path towards the viruses that count. However, matches end too quickly to draw a map.
When I forgot to log my Doraemon Mii out as the primary account I made an interesting discovery. Your online ranking is not linked to your console. Each Mii has its own ranking so you can technically “erase” a massive losing streak from your rankings by using a new Mii and starting from scratch. Thanks Doraemon!