Dr. Mario 64: Complete Switch Controls Guide and Tips for Beginners

Fighting those viruses in Dr. Mario? Here is your controls guide and tips to help you through the N64 game.


Not your everyday puzzle game, Dr. Mario 64 made waves for its challenging nature and unique play function. Now, it returns as part of the Switch Online Expansion Pass.

Unlike many puzzle games of the time, Dr. Mario included a Story mode to go along with the standard Classic survival mode, among others. This also helped set the game apart and maintain its popularity through the years.


Below you will find all of the controls for Dr. Mario 64, with some gameplay tips further down.

Dr. Mario 64 Nintendo Switch Controls

  • Move Vitamin: D-Pad
  • Rotate Vitamin Left: B
  • Rotate Vitamin Right: A
  • Turn Landing Effect On and Off: RS
  • Drop Vitamin Fast: D-Pad (down)
  • Add Viruses: L and R (Marathon mode only)

Dr. Mario 64 Nintendo 64 Accessory Controls

  • Move Vitamin: D-Pad
  • Rotate Vitamin Left: B
  • Rotate Vitamin Right: A
  • Turn Landing Effect On and Off: C-Buttons
  • Drop Vitamin Fast: D-Pad (down)
  • Add Viruses: L and R (Marathon mode only)

Note that the left and right analogue sticks on the Switch are shown as LS and RS, while the directional pad is denoted as D-Pad.

How to win levels in Dr. Mario 64

Dr. Mario is different to similar games in that you don’t win by outlasting your opponent. While surviving is a part of the game, you win by eliminating the viruses in your jar before your opponent. It may take many vitamin combos to reach the viruses, but your priority should be targeting the viruses.

You create a matching set by having at least four of the same colour – blue, yellow, or red – lined up in a row. This will remove those vitamins from the jar. The faster that you clear the vitamins, the faster you can reach the viruses.


Of course, if your opponent’s jar fills up before either of you can clear your viruses, you will win by default; the same applies to your opponent should your jar fill to the brim.

How to get a combo in Dr. Mario 64

You and your opponent start with the same number of viruses, just in different positions.

Combos are achieved by having one or more sets of vitamins clear after your first set clears. For example, if you clear a yellow set and the resulting collapsing of vitamins results in a blue set clearing and then a yellow set, you just achieved two combos.


The benefit to combos beyond clearing more of your jar is that it adds small round pieces of Garbage to your opponent’s jar – the number of pieces being dependent on the number of combos and the colour. Achieving enough combos could result in your opponent’s jar filling to bring you a victory by default.

In four-way (and multiplayer) battles, the colour of the combo plays a role as well. If you clear a blue set that results in a yellow set clearing afterwards, Garbage will be sent to the player immediately to your right. If it begins with yellow, Garbage is sent to the second person on your right, and a red combo will send Garbage to the last player.

Should you clear multiple combos in one, you will add Garbage to multiple players. With a combo starting with yellow, you will send Garbage to the player second to your right. An ensuing blue and yellow clearing results in Garbage being sent to the two players to your right. That means that the player second to your right will have had two pieces sent from that one combo.

Combos are your best bet for reaching your viruses andcausing your opponent’s jar to fill.

How to improve your game in Dr. Mario 64

Dr. Mario has an extensive Improve Your Game section under Options. It provides you with basic tips and strategies for smooth gameplay. It is recommended that you view these multiple times.

The best way to practice is to play Classic mode until you feel confident in your abilities. As Classic mode can be seemingly endless, it provides you with ample opportunity to work out the rotation functions (A and B) and the ability to shift vitamins to fight tight spaces.

The game relies on dual-coloured vitamins rather than defined, self-contained shapes or symbols, so just stacking vitamins is a failing strategy. The colours will inevitably alternate before hitting four because of the dual-coloured nature – unless you stack two vitamins that are monochrome.

The best piece of advice is not to panic while playing. The game makes this more difficult with the speed of vitamins dropping increasing after every ten. If you see that a lot of blue and yellow are on one side, but red and yellow make up the other side, try moving those vitamins to those sides with the other colour aimed toward the middle. This should help filter the rapidly dropping vitamins while you work to clear space.

Dr. Mario 64 game modes explained

Dr. Mario 64 has six different modes – seven including multiplayer – as follows:

  • Classic: “Continue playing until you fail to clear a stage,” which gives you plenty of time to practice and improve. Stages are cleared by destroying viruses.
  • Story: “The thrilling tale of Dr. Mario and the Cold Caper” has you play as Dr. Mario or Wario against various foes as you seek to cure the cold spell that has hit the people.
  • Vs. Computer: “This is your chance to play against the computer,” which is self-explanatory; it’s an excellent mode to practice before jumping into Story mode.
  • 2, 3, and 4-Player Vs.: “A two-three-four-player free for all” that you can play with other players or against the CPU.
  • Flash: “Clear levels by destroying the flashing viruses.” Here, you don’t prioritise all of the viruses, but only those that are flashing. You can still achieve victory or defeat by filling jars, and it can be played in Two-Player and Multiplayer modes.
  • Marathon: “Viruses multiply rapidly in this mode,” making this mode more of a speed attack and a marathon. Combos slow down the speed of virus growth, but you can press L in this mode to increase the speed of virus multiplication for a more difficult challenge.
  • Score Attack: “Try to get the highest score possible in a set amount of time.” It’s another self-explanatory mode; destroying multiple viruses at once increases your score, and it can also be played in Two-Player mode.
  • Team Battle: “Force your foes to retire by sending them garbage or destroy all of your own viruses to win.” Here, you can take on two other foes either as a team on by yourself in a three-player game.

Classic and Vs. Computer modes are arguably the best ways to prepare you for Story mode as you will be facing off against various characters. Marathon may also be worthwhile before heading to Story as it will help you to practice for tense situations, hopefully keeping you calm and collected when the vitamins speed up or the jar fills.

How to set-up a multiplayer match in Dr. Mario 64

You can play Dr. Mario 64 with up to three more players by having them join you online or locally in-person. To do this, everyone will need the Switch Online pass and the Expansion Pack. Then, to set-up a multiplayer match, you need to:

  • Go to the N64 menu on the Switch (host only);
  • Select ‘Play Online;’
  • Set-up a room and invite up to three friends;
  • The invited friends then need to read and accept the invitation on their Switch.

There you go: all that you need to be successful in Dr. Mario 64, including how to best your friends. Show them that you are the best (virtual) doctor!


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Bruce L

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