This is no longer a joke, lives are on the line. Mine.
Dr. Mario World is the worst kind of mobile game. No, I don't mean a mobile game with spinners, gauges, and loot boxes. These are moral inadequacies that have their own inquisitors and shall not peddle my expertise where it is not needed. It is also true that Dr. Mario World is now dealing in medical falsehoods and general Internet Quackery in the midst of a pandemic. And still, I lack the power to flag their communication with a passive-aggressive "Get the facts about 'capsules.'" warning. And now, unchecked and unchallenged, they have begun to certify delphinidae as medical professionals.
Neither diamonds nor B-tier princesses posses the ability to erase viruses.
I am a frequent and known critic of Dr. Mario World. An easily-translatable puzzle game went from the Dr. Mario we all know into a more bone-standard puzzle game. I'll let inoffensive-narrator-voice explain it, as I cannot be bothered.
They didn't need to turn Dr. Mario into a move-limited puzzle game, nor did they need to add premium currencies and timers, and yet here we are. They could have done the fun thing, and just translated classic Dr. Mario gameplay to our phones. It isn't as if this is a franchise that Nintendo blanches at re-releasing.
This isn't even all of the Dr. Mario games, these are all just ports of the original Dr. Mario. Hell, it isn't even all the ports; I excluded the Vs. arcade machines. It certainly doesn't include sequels, including such unquestionable classics as DSiWare's Dr. Mario Express, unhelpfully named A Little Bit of... Dr. Mario by a PAL division that clearly just didn't care. Or bangers like Dr. Mario Online Rx, which now sounds more like a way to get 100mg tablets of Sildenafil without having to look your doctor in the eyes.
Re-branded by the world as "frequent-Dr. Mario World critic, James Jones," there are days I dread. Days where I wake up confronted by a dozen Twitter notifications.
This is threat level Red. At one point I held out hope that this meant I had put something smart or funny into the world before drifting off to sleep. Now I know better, Dr. Mario World is back on its bullshit.
"What have they done today?" It's a futile question, as I will never be able to find the bottom of the barrel as effortlessly. Dr. Mario World creates nothing; that is not its way. It is a transformation tool, repackaging known brand commodities as marketable quasi-doctors. That's how these mobile games work, after all. You need to provide incentive for players return, and to do that you keep introducing new "characters."
And I use air quotes here, in written form, in a sort of sardonic ouroboros, because these are not characters. These are literal props, wrapped in a lab coat with all the care your Taco Bell "taco artisan" wraps your Beefy Fritos® Burrito at 3 AM. You are drunk, and do not care - either literally or in the case of Mobile engagement figuratively.
Perhaps also literally; I don't judge.
But this is not without ramifications, and that's the lesson. Sure, it's funny to laugh at Dr. Nabbit.
Red: "A new doctor's coming Apr. 2, 1 AM PT. It's Dr. Nabbit! I wonder about consolidating that luggage... I mean, all that stuff could just go in that big sack! Think about it. Dr. Nabbit's the only new doc this time. Please take it easy on me." #DrMarioWorld pic.twitter.com/FMxBXWkdaJ— Dr. Mario World (@Drmarioworld_EN) April 1, 2020
Nintendo has now decided to place an entity who, thanks to their own devotion to nominative-determinism is capable of only petty larceny. Nabbit is Nintendo decidedly placing itself among the believers of theological determinism. If he has been promoted to doctor, is Dr. Nabbit now capable of medical pilfering? Is he going to steal your organs, like some kind of generic mobster from a Liam Neeson film? Or, as seems more likely, is he going to steal your wallet when you're on the exam table?
And decidedly, Nabbit is not a character, he is an ironically an affliction. He steals power-ups from the Toad House and scurries away. He is such a non-character that Nintendo did not even bother to redraw his model in his "graduation" photo. The model of Nabbit, to the left, is the very first model they released of him. The Dr. Mario World portrait, above, is the exact same images with some armbands hastily affixed to various appendages.
The awkward angle of his feet work in the Great White Abyss of a character render. Set against the sterile Dr. Mario World background, he appears to be mid-trick, kick-flipping off a skateboard that he has launched too far forward.
He is not going to stick the landing.
He will need medical attention.
I don't need to make commentary on the wisdom or ethics of placing life and death decisions in the hands of babies; I understand that Dr. Mario World is not a diagnostic tool. The creation of Mario Character by agglutination is a well-established meme. These are empty calories in the form of player avatars. We do not bat an eye at Gold Mario or Baby Daisy. We retch ever so slightly at Pink Gold Peach, but largely we have inured ourselves. This is where we failed. Our willingness to buy Mario Kart 8, and its cast of metal-plated and infant racers has sent a message.
When we look at the ever-growing list of "Doctors" what looks back is our own pink gold reflection.
Red: "Introducing a new doctor arriving Apr. 26, 11 PM PT. It's Dr. Goomba Tower! Uh-huh, I see. So they used our trick. Better be careful not to get eliminated when they're lined up three in a row. Please don't hurt me. Argh!" #DrMarioWorld https://t.co/WOLKO2bXuL pic.twitter.com/Sfnx1fjYYF— Dr. Mario World (@Drmarioworld_EN) April 24, 2020
Dr. Goomba Tower is no character. It's not even a singular entity. You could make a bad-faith argument that Dr. Goomba Tower is in fact three characters, making this a "best value," to borrow mobile game terminology. But again, Goombas are less character and more speed bump. They are designed to teach players how to jump; if you cannot figure out the A Button you will not pass Super Mario Bros. very first screen. At least some species of Koopa have the self-awareness and self-preservation skills to not walk off edges. Goomba simply march to their doom.
Normally this is where one would compare them to lemmings, but that only applies to long-discredited science, Walt Disney cartoons, and the titular video games.
Misconceptions about lemmings go back many centuries. In the 1530s, geographer Zeigler of Strasbourg proposed the theory that the creatures fell out of the sky during stormy weather and then died suddenly when the grass grew in spring. This description was contradicted by natural historian Ole Worm, who accepted that lemmings could fall out of the sky, but claimed that they had been brought over by the wind rather than created by spontaneous generation.
"Natural Historian Ole Worm" sounds like a character. Are you telling me you wouldn't trade virtual Diamonds to play as Natural Historian Dr. Ole Worm? You would trade many virtual Diamonds for Dr. Ole Worm.
The manufacture of Dr. Goomba Tower took Radio Free Nintendo Episode 671 into a pit. This sparked an 18 minute commentary on Nintendo's process minting "doctors," which Greg Leahy noted produced "a whole constellation of horseshit."
GL: "Am I to assume that all of these Goombas have medical degrees?"
Guillaume Veillette: "I don't care if the middle or bottom ones have medical degrees."
Jon Lindemann: "If I go to see the doctor, and I have a problem with that foot, who's going to look at it?"
Before my not-entirely-rhetorical question of "Would Bullet Bill would be a better doctor than Goomba Tower, because he has hands" could be answered Guillaume seemed to imply there were some limits to what Nintendo would dare to doctor.
They would not "wrap a lab coat around a DK barrel and call it a character," as I had suggested.
GV: "I think we're going to see all New Super Mario Bros. shit, not even the 3D Super Mario Bros. stuff they could mine."
It was as if they were listening.
Dolphins first show up in Super Mario World. However, they only show up on Vanilla Secret 3 and hidden path of Chocolate Island 1. In this role they're not even speed bumps, they literally serve as platforms. Primarily, dolphins have shown up in the mini-games and background artwork for Mario Party and Mario Sport titles.
Lift: arguably as much a character as a dolphin
Dolphin's most recent adventure was as the theme of a track in Mario Kart 8. So presumably next month I'll be revising this article complaining about Dr. Moo Moo. Moo Moo Meadows has been in far more Mario Kart instances at this point, and at least the Moo Moo has a name! Nintendo didn't even bother to give dolphins a name, which is ironic as dolphins do in fact use names.
A cursory exam of the venerable Super Mario Wiki returns precious few creatures that Nintendo have not bothered to name. This is a series where even munitions have been granted identity. I should point out that the Super Mario Wiki did turn up the fact that some dolphins have names. I am speaking specifically of Donny, the Micro-Dolphins that resides in Yoshi's digestive tract.
I don't even believe this is real, but the wiki insists that the Nintendo Adventure Book Unjust Desserts is about Mario's Innerspace adventure inside a Yoshi who had recently consumed his brother. And, alarmingly, Yoshi is occupied by a collection of small dolphins who are also flat-Earthers.
I can state with absolute certainty that at sometime between 1993 and 1995, a child gave a book report on this novel while his teacher despaired at their lot. This Amazon listing makes it quite clear that at least one copy of this literary enigma was well-loved, you will need to cough-up the completely reasonable asking price of $199.95 to confirm if the contents do detail the internal ecosystem of Yoshi and its pod of petite-dolphins.
If I had died being the only person with this knowledge then did I really live?
I should be done with this book, but can we take a break here and go back to that book cover?
Toad, what have they done to you?
Why is Toad so small? Is everyone else just large? Did Toad find magic beans and climb to Tiny-Huge Island? I can already hear murmurs of Dr. Toad Tower.
Is this where Dr. Mario Tour leads, pondering the fate of cellular dolphins that swim through a river of cola inside a fictional dinosaur and the canonical height of Toad in a series of children's books?
At this point Dr. Moo Moo is a given, and we should just accept that. You are weeks away from tightly gripping your phone, juggling capsules provided by a cow doctor. Are we weeks away from Dr. Cheep Cheep? Months? Certainly not years.
I suppose that this step towards absurdist avatars is a step away from their usual process of just appending Baby or Metal, unless Tower is just the newest adjective they've concocted. If we're headed towards Dr Baby Buzzy Beetle Tower then I'm not here for it.