Why is it that, of the Mario spin-off series, Dr. Mario did overall less well?

winstein

Justice is not limited, it is a universal quality
In Mario's life, Dr. Mario is basically the first Mario spinoff. While you can consider certain games to reach that point first, like Golf prior to the Mario series, Dr. Mario is the first game to really be considered a start of a series, given how there are future Dr. Mario games. It is not really the worst-selling Mario spin-off series, because for example, Mario Golf and Mario Strikers sold less than the Dr. Mario series. However, note that Dr. Mario's first games (it was released on NES and Game Boy simultaneously) sold more than 10 million altogether, and if you exclude that, Dr. Mario never really sold that much. In other words, Dr. Mario is a frontloaded series and its popularity has much to do with the original games compared to the games that come after.

Another point with Dr. Mario being unpopular overall is the fact that only Dr. Mario 64 is a fully-featured game, rather than being digital-only or part of a compilation. In a sense, it's like Bejeweled Deluxe where the first game was fun even if it's feature-light, but the former mattered more that it sold very well, and nowadays selling the game at the original price doesn't cut it due to a lack of content. Similarly, every other Dr. Mario game besides the Nintendo 64 version didn't have much content, and thus was preferred to be sold digitally at a lower price point. Because of how it's a digital-only game, it is basically less overall popular due to a lack of outreach since it's practically competing with other Nintendo games, unlike indie games which does not necessarily have that type of competition.

On the Super Mario Wiki itself, Dr. Mario has overall less coverage compared to many Mario series, so while the Super Mario series and Mario Kart series have ample contributors to add or organise information, Dr. Mario's coverage of information is overall smaller. In fact, Dr. Mario World, a game that has a lot of information pertaining to it, might be rather barren if it weren't for some passionate contributors who were willing to do it justice.

One possible theory which I come up with would be a lack of familiar characters. For a long time, Dr. Mario is practically just Mario and the viruses, and Dr. Mario 64 infamously has Wario Land 3 characters, who are not the most famous bunch. It was only until Dr. Luigi that Luigi gets added, and Dr. Mario World is the first game that added many more Mario characters, and in the eyes of some fans, the new characters diluted the prestige of being a doctor given how there are baby characters becoming doctors as well.

Another possible theory is that the games are not very forgiving and is overall slow. To elaborate, Dr. Mario requires lining up capsules in four-in-a-row or -column to eliminate viruses, but if something goes in the way of the row, it's cumbersome to recover. With Tetris and Puyo Puyo, a mistake is not so difficult to recover, but making a mistake in Dr. Mario is more time-consuming to recover. Another point is the rigidity of the capsule movement. Even in the latest traditional Dr. Mario (Miracle Cure), capsules still move in one tile increments, and that might be a bit difficult for players to gauge the movements. To be fair, the newer games have faster capsule movements, but the earlier games do not have that luxury, so if garbage capsules fall, it is a slog for them to finish falling.

Finally, another theory is that Dr. Mario has already peaked in gameplay in the first game, and the series hardly tried new things to innovate. This might have caused players to think that, because they experienced the first Dr. Mario game, they don't need to try the newest games. The series has a few incremental improvements, but nothing too eye-catching. Say what you want with certain Mario series doing something new like Mario Kart doing double characters or adding anti-gravity, or Mario Golf reiterating Speed Golf, but at least those do something new that gives them a breath of fresh air. Dr. Mario didn't quite have that marketable spark that more famous Mario series got.

In your opinion, why is Dr. Mario not that popular these days?

Thank you for reading.
 

winstein

Justice is not limited, it is a universal quality
Because it's not Tetris.
Puyo Puyo is also not Tetris, yet it did quite well throughout the years. If not comparing the gameplay differences, what differentiates Puyo Puyo over Dr. Mario that favours Puyo Puyo into doing well?

I mean it's kind of the same game released over and over again lol.
I suppose it is easy to look at it that way, since on the surface, there's not much to differentiate the game throughout the ages, even if there are certain additions between them (and certain subtractions, like how Miracle Cure removed the option to select music).

Thank you for reading.
 

Reagan Ridley

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If they kept the route they did with Dr. Mario 64, I feel like it would have garnered more attraction. Then again, idk if that game sold well, I just know I love it for having a story mode.
 

Long John Spaghetti

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Honestly, I feel like the premise turns people away

"hey look it's mario but he's a doctor now, buy the game plz"

No, Nintendo. Slapping Mario into a puzzle game that would be literally no different if Mario wasn't in it isn't going to raise interest as much as you'd like it to. TBH I think most only know of the existence of Dr. Mario through Smash Bros.
 

winstein

Justice is not limited, it is a universal quality
Honestly, I feel like the premise turns people away

"hey look it's mario but he's a doctor now, buy the game plz"

No, Nintendo. Slapping Mario into a puzzle game that would be literally no different if Mario wasn't in it isn't going to raise interest as much as you'd like it to. TBH I think most only know of the existence of Dr. Mario through Smash Bros.
I suppose that is a good point, given how other Mario spinoffs at least incorporated the Mario elements, like how Super Mario Kart started out with Super Mario World level themes and items, and how Mario Party takes after Super Mario 64's star-collecting goal. In another example, there's Mario Golf, which while doesn't really incorporate Mario locations in its courses, makes up for it with Mario characters and giving the locations Mario-themed names. Dr. Mario, on the other hand, was not originally a Dr. Mario game, and not much was done to make it feel like one beyond the main character (Peach was never in the game, don't let the manual fool you).

With that said, it can feel that way in terms of incorporating Mario in a puzzle game. Yoshi's Cookie was also a game that didn't have the Mario branding (which is the basis on why that game got taken down: licensing issues), and I don't think it was too successful. The Yoshi game by Game Freak wasn't terribly successful either, but it does help them develop Pokemon through the profits so it was a success for the company. Finally, while Tetris Attack seems like it did have some success, it was essentially piggybacking the respectable name of Tetris married with a very engaging gameplay, but like Yoshi's Cookie, was licensed merely for the Tetris name, so it can't see the light of day for that reason. So perhaps there is a point that Mario puzzle games have yet to prove themselves, while Dr. Mario just happens to be the most successful of the lot.

I guess very early on, Dr. Mario benefit from being at the right time and the right place (when NES and GB were thriving), so that was how Dr. Mario made its mark. It turned out to be a fluke, because the success of the first games didn't carry over to future entries. I daresay that Dr. Mario World is the most successful Dr. Mario past the first one, with one of those reaons being that it incorporates standard Mario elements (Dr. Mario 64 incorporated Wario Land 3 elements for some reason), which makes it more appealing to many. So perhaps if a new Dr. Mario starts introducing the cavalry of Mario characters, we'll see if that will help the series.

Thank you for reading.
 

Redshift

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Ray Trace
My only assumption why Dr. Mario gets less attention and coverage is that it's a lower budgeted Mario game with lesser bells and whistles (being a slower-paced puzzle game, with a casual audience in mind), with much of the core audience (ie us) not really being the target demographic. I still think it's a recognizable series, many people know that Mario was a doctor at some point as that's one of his most famous career outside of being, well, a plumber, as well as the series being around since the NES days. Our puzzle game coverage on the wiki in general is pretty scant, with only Dr. Mario World getting maximum coverage enough to be featured that is (and it's really only a few editors who so happened to like the game a lot to get it to that status...and I really only started caring because Dr. fucking Baby Luigi), and while I can't say they're bad games, especially after enjoying Dr. Mario World, it's not like they'd be anyone's favorite either. To a lot of us, they kinda exist just to exist, and I don't think many of us are puzzle game aficionados, I mean, I can say that I'm not one.
 

Borp

Shy Guy
There's also the fact that nobody really gives a shit about puzzle match games anymore. Anybody who'd be likely to play those is probably already playing Candy Crush or something similar on their phones and tablets. I think one of the reasons Dr. Mario World performed as badly as it did is because of how late to the party it was, so to speak.
 

Glowsquid

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I think above all they're just not particularly great games. From what I've seen, most hardcore puzzle game fans find Dr. Mario bland to bad.
 

JBX9001

IT'S-A GO TIME, MO' FO'S!
Puyo Puyo is also not Tetris, yet it did quite well throughout the years. If not comparing the gameplay differences, what differentiates Puyo Puyo over Dr. Mario that favours Puyo Puyo into doing well?
As a big time Puyo Puyo fan myself, that probably has to do with the fact that the entire series falls within the puzzle genre. Sure it was initially intended to be a spin-off to its predecessor, Madou Monogatari, but Puyo Puyo saw more popularity and sales, so they shifted the series as a whole into a puzzle series.

However, with that change, they added more emphasis on characters and story than most other puzzle games tend to do (if at all). They established an entire world around the concept of Puyo Puyo; how they’re actually supposed to be magic battles between the participants, that some people go to school to learn how to perform the magic necessary for Puyo battles, and so forth. For this series, the games in the puzzle genre are the main series, and the fact that they do so much to make them so much more than just another “match the shapes” puzzle game is a big reason I love the series so much!

With Dr. Mario, as you mentioned, it’s more so a spin-off to the main Super Mario series. The platformers and RPGs are the ones with the most emphasis with what goes on in the series, so more people pay attention to those games (though the RPG aspect of the Mario series has been going through tough times as of late).

While Mario Kart and Mario Party have been pretty successful, I believe part of the problem is that Nintendo doesn’t really promote it as much. Dr. Mario 64 is the most they’ve ever done with the series; a story mode, multiple characters (not counting World), and a bigger selection of music beyond Fever and Chill (as timeless as those songs are).

But since then, they haven’t done a single physical release for a new Dr. Mario game; which isn’t terrible, per se, but it’s a sign of how much faith a company has in a game’s quality when they spend the extra costs to print out retail copies. Though the modern Dr. Mario games are pretty small titles, which I guess warrants making them download exclusives at lower prices.

The only thing I can think of to rekindle the community’s interest in the Dr. Mario games as a whole is to do what worked with Dr. Mario 64. And make more efforts to advertise the game than just maybe one small announcement video, or a minor segment in a Nintendo Direct.

...Also yes, them making so many characters doctors in Dr. Mario World does in fact take away from the credibility of it all. When they’re willing to give babies and even a friggin’ random dolphin a PhD, it gives off the impression that the princess is just haphazardly allowing people to hand out degrees to anyone (or anything) who “just wants to try it out”. I cannot trust Dr. Petey Piranha to not randomly vomit on the patient during open heart surgery and cause a lawsuit.
 

Redshift

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...Also yes, them making so many characters doctors in Dr. Mario World does in fact take away from the credibility of it all. When they’re willing to give babies and even a friggin’ random dolphin a PhD, it gives off the impression that the princess is just haphazardly allowing people to hand out degrees to anyone (or anything) who “just wants to try it out”. I cannot trust Dr. Petey Piranha to not randomly vomit on the patient during open heart surgery and cause a lawsuit.
Dr. Baby Luigi is Dr. Mario World's strongest legacy and you will not forget he canonically exists!
 

JBX9001

IT'S-A GO TIME, MO' FO'S!
Dr. Baby Luigi is Dr. Mario World's strongest legacy and you will not forget he canonically exists!
How can I? Or the fact that Dr. Baby Wario is the most relevancy Baby Wario in general has had since Yoshi’s Island DS?

And yet they didn’t make Dr. Toadley playable... Would’ve been perfect!
 

winstein

Justice is not limited, it is a universal quality
As a big time Puyo Puyo fan myself, that probably has to do with the fact that the entire series falls within the puzzle genre. Sure it was initially intended to be a spin-off to its predecessor, Madou Monogatari, but Puyo Puyo saw more popularity and sales, so they shifted the series as a whole into a puzzle series.

However, with that change, they added more emphasis on characters and story than most other puzzle games tend to do (if at all). They established an entire world around the concept of Puyo Puyo; how they’re actually supposed to be magic battles between the participants, that some people go to school to learn how to perform the magic necessary for Puyo battles, and so forth. For this series, the games in the puzzle genre are the main series, and the fact that they do so much to make them so much more than just another “match the shapes” puzzle game is a big reason I love the series so much!

With Dr. Mario, as you mentioned, it’s more so a spin-off to the main Super Mario series. The platformers and RPGs are the ones with the most emphasis with what goes on in the series, so more people pay attention to those games (though the RPG aspect of the Mario series has been going through tough times as of late).

While Mario Kart and Mario Party have been pretty successful, I believe part of the problem is that Nintendo doesn’t really promote it as much. Dr. Mario 64 is the most they’ve ever done with the series; a story mode, multiple characters (not counting World), and a bigger selection of music beyond Fever and Chill (as timeless as those songs are).

But since then, they haven’t done a single physical release for a new Dr. Mario game; which isn’t terrible, per se, but it’s a sign of how much faith a company has in a game’s quality when they spend the extra costs to print out retail copies. Though the modern Dr. Mario games are pretty small titles, which I guess warrants making them download exclusives at lower prices.

The only thing I can think of to rekindle the community’s interest in the Dr. Mario games as a whole is to do what worked with Dr. Mario 64. And make more efforts to advertise the game than just maybe one small announcement video, or a minor segment in a Nintendo Direct.

...Also yes, them making so many characters doctors in Dr. Mario World does in fact take away from the credibility of it all. When they’re willing to give babies and even a friggin’ random dolphin a PhD, it gives off the impression that the princess is just haphazardly allowing people to hand out degrees to anyone (or anything) who “just wants to try it out”. I cannot trust Dr. Petey Piranha to not randomly vomit on the patient during open heart surgery and cause a lawsuit.
Puyo Puyo, as a series, do have the advantage of implementing character and lore to make it a more investing experience, which together with a solid foundation in puzzle mechanics, give it an identity. The character part is key to this, because when their mobile game was rebranded into Cranky Food Friends, fans are understandably upset that the game had to be removed, even though the gameplay is still intact. It's certainly not like the old days when SEGA could churn out Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine and nobody would complain about it. In this way, Puyo Puyo is a class on its own because similar types of puzzle games didn't quite reach the same heights and longevity as it did, like Magical Drop.

In a later post that I have made within this thread, I concluded that being easily identified as a spinoff to Super Mario is part of the reason they were successful. As an example, Super Mario Kart took a lot of elements from the Super Mario series, where the courses and powerups are based on Super Mario World. Dr. Mario is an exception because it hardly takes anything from the Super Mario series, and while technically some of the later Dr. Mario games like Dr. Mario 64 have a little bit of Super Mario elements (e.g. the 1-up jingle and Metal Mario), it's only until Dr. Mario World that the series incorporated the Super Mario elements more wholeheartedly than before, and I think this is what counts.

While the fact that Dr. Mario World do introduce pretty much anything as a doctor, I believe it worked out in its favour because one of the appeals of a Mario spinoff is to use your favourite characters, which is notably absent in the Dr. Mario series until that mobile game. The most that happened is Dr. Mario 64, which is a fluke because it failed to use the wider Mario series characters (instead using characters from Wario Land 3, who are not a lasting bunch). Even in Dr. Mario: Miracle Cure, despite having Dr. Mario and Dr. Luigi as characters, it's default, so for example, I can't choose Dr. Mario in the Dr. Luigi mode (that game takes away several options found in past games like the ability to choose music, just so you know).

What I do concede, however, is the lack of marketing. There is a sense of a lack of confidence within the series because most of the games have been rather small bit in terms of not only content, but how it innovated. If you give the games within a series a good look, you might have seen the improvements here and there, but they are generally nothing to write home about. That might be why the games were relegated to smaller digital releases, and Miracle Cure felt like it was the smallest value the series is assigned with (Dr. Mario Express is the cheapest, but it's devoid of additional content). It kind of felt like a chicken-or-egg scenario that leads to this downward spiral, so there needs to be an improvement somewhere if the series were to be more appealing, and I would argue that Dr. Mario World did good by improving the profile of the series.

How can I? Or the fact that Dr. Baby Wario is the most relevancy Baby Wario in general has had since Yoshi’s Island DS?

And yet they didn’t make Dr. Toadley playable... Would’ve been perfect!
Baby Wario's presence is very confusing. You have some folks that swear by his importance because he started in a supposedly more important game (a sequel to a character-focused game) instead of a spinoff, no thanks to the introduction of the Star Children concept, but Baby Wario never have any more importance within the wider Mario series. I would argue that Baby Daisy and even Baby Rosalina have more importance within the Mario series, even if they were first introduced in a Mario Kart game.

Thank you for reading.
 

JBX9001

IT'S-A GO TIME, MO' FO'S!
I feel the only reason they didn’t use the actual Puyo Puyo characters when releasing the first game over here (as Kirby’s Avalanche/Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine), was because America in general wasn’t receptive to anime yet (not until Dragon Ball Z and Pokémon the Series came along at least), so they switched them out for marketability reasons (which didn’t help the series in its early years as far as gaining Western recognition went). I’m just glad they’ve been releasing games worldwide now after doing so for Puyo Tetris 1!

Ah yes, the Star Children concept; arguably one of the most interesting and possibly game changing pieces of lore ever introduced in the Mario series! ...And yet, they haven’t really done anything with it since Yoshi’s Island DS (which is crazy since it’s literally the reason “Super Mario” is, well, super)... On the one hand, it kinda sucks that they didn’t expand upon the idea. But for people who want to do so themselves for fan projects (such as myself):
 
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