A new mobile Nintendo game launched today for iPhone and Android, but its gated progression is already causing issues for players. Dr. Mario World meters out play time using recharging currency that you can either wait out or spend to skip.
Accessing a level requires hearts, which you have a finite amount of after the initial tutorial. These recuperate over time, or you can spend cash to buy more. In fact, there's an option for an uninterrupted amount of play time: 60 minutes for 30 gems.
Gems, another currency in Dr. Mario World, are bought through real-world spending. While there isn't an option to buy exactly 30 gems, the closest approximation would be buying two 20-gem packs at $1.99 apiece, or just over $4. So if you want to skip the wait, it'll cost about that much for every hour of unimpeded Dr. Mario World you want to play.
This seems mostly by design, as Dr. Mario World's levels are small puzzles that seem tailor-made for a waiting room or lobby. But considering this is Nintendo, and the first Dr. Mario game since 2015's Dr. Mario: Miracle Cure, it's a little understandable why folks might want to spend more than a few passing moments on this.
Reactions seem generally mixed, though. One user on Reddit writes, "Just wait for the energy to replenish, these games are designed to be played in short burst over the day not in longer sittings." And that's a fair point: this is designed for a mobile experience, where time between short bursts of play session can add up to counteract your dwindling heart count. This is, after all, a mobile game. It makes sense that it would be monetized like one, regardless of whether some Nintendo fans would rather binge to their heart's content.
Nintendo's experimented with several kinds of mobile monetization before, from a one-time fee for Super Mario Run to a gacha system with Fire Emblem Heroes. Dr. Mario World ventures into yet another monetization scheme, and while it may not be everyone's cup of tea, it does at least fit the form factor.