When I was in college I’d sometimes play Dr. Mario for such an extended period of time that my eyes would get blurry from staring at the screen. Sadly we’ll never get a true port of that game on the iPhone, but some developers have made valiant attempts at cloning the game. One such effort is Flu Fighter from Robot Vs. Monkey. It’s actually not bad, and I’d love to give multi-player mode a try, but with no achievements and a control system not quite as responsive as it could be, there’s still some work to be done before Flu Fighter can break the ranks.
The basics of Flu Fighter are that you have a bunch of viruses that need to be eliminated and thankfully are color coded for ease of disposal. Pills fall from the top of the screen, and these pills are divided into two parts, each of a certain color as well. Your job is to pile the pills on the viruses such that at least 3 pill parts matching the virus’ color are actually touching the virus. When that happens, the virus will go away. When all the viruses are gone you’ve cleared the level and will move on to the next one. If the pills should happen to pile up such that no new ones can fall from the top, the game is over. Have no fear, though – you’ll never have to start completely over. At the beginning of each game you can choose a level to start from anywhere between 0 and 20. You can also pick between three speeds: slow, medium and fast.
The controls are actually quite interesting, and it’s a shame they don’t work a little better. To rotate the pills you simply tap the screen. Tapping the left half causes the pill to rotate counterclockwise, while the right half turns the pill clockwise. To move the pill left or right you swipe the screen in the appropriate direction. The problem with this is two fold. First of all, it doesn’t always seem to respond to the swipe. Not a big problem, but it can cause issues sometimes. The bigger problem, however, is that each swipe only moves the pill over one place. When the pills are moving fast and the viruses are close to the top of the screen, this doesn’t really give you the needed time to move the pills anywhere useful. I also found the need to swipe up in order to get pills to automatically drop to the bottom of the screen a bit awkward. Not because it didn’t work well, but because it would seem to me to be more natural to swipe down for this.
My real problem with Flu Fighter, however, is that there’s not a lot of incentive to keep on playing. The game keeps track of high scores, but there are no other achievements of any kind. Aside from the ability to adjust the starting level and speed, there’s no variance from game to game. There are no game modes other than standard play (and multi-player if you have a friend and Wi-Fi), and there are no obstacles or power ups to make the play in standard mode very interesting. There is an odd bug that creeps up once in a while, however, that makes certain blocks intangible so that pills just pass right through them. This can be a problem if you think you’re going to match a pill to a virus and suddenly the pill just keeps on going. I guess you could consider it an obstacle, but it’s not a proper one.
The graphics in Flu Fighter are decent. The background could stand to be switch around every once in a while, but the viruses look good and are well animated. There aren’t a whole lot of effects, but the sparkle when blocks disappear is snazzy. Sound effects are a bit blah, and the music is interesting because it could be good, but currently sounds more like just the beginning of a song than a full fledged tune.
I’m torn on this one. It’s one of the better mobile Dr. Mario clones I’ve played, but it still needs some work before I’d consider it really good. If you’re truly looking for a Dr. Mario fix this might get you by, but it’s not going to hold your attention for long spurts at a time. The game hasn’t been updated for several months, so I have a feeling this developer is done with it, but maybe someone else will pick it up as an example and give us the Dr. Mario game we’re all craving. Until then, I’d suggest trying the free version before shelling out any cash for this one.