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Dr. Franken is a 2D sidescrolling adventure game which takes place in Dr. Frankenstein's castle. The protagonist is a smaller version of Frankenstein's Monster
named Franky. Franky's objective is to search the entirety of the castle, collecting items which unlock new areas. Eventually, he must find all of the pieces of his dismantled girlfriend, Bitsy, and use a machine to reassemble her. Frankenstein's castle is enormous and will require a great deal of exploration, as well as good memory, as the player is responsible for remembering the area each new item opens. A map allows the player to see his position in the castle, except for the very bottom floor, which is an underground labyrinth. Along the way, Franky will encounter many enemies and traps, which must be avoided. Franky can defeat some enemies with a lightning attack, but most enemies come back to life or cannot be killed, which adds a layer of difficulty. The castle contains an electric charging machine, which can bring Franky back up to full life, should he take too much damage from enemies.
Dr. Franken is also a platformer, requiring many precise jumps to reach some areas. In addition, the level of detail in room backgrounds is quite involved for a Game Boy game - Franky can stand on almost all objects in the background and even on different parts of each object. This technique must be used in many of the jumps.
Due to the size and complexity of the castle, the player may save his progress via a password system.
Electronic Gaming Monthly issued the scores of 7,7,6,6 and 7. Mike Weigand wrote, "This is a good, almost non-linear game involving Frankenstein with a pair of shades and some devastating attacks as he travels around the globe. The graphics are very cute and the animations provide plenty of laughs".