Mr. Driller – Dreamcast
Platform: Sega Dreamcast
Release Date: October, 1999
Nerd Rating: 7.5/10
Reviewed by Rhutsczar
Do you love Dig Dug? How about Tetris? If so, you are going to thoroughly enjoy Mr. Driller. While many people forgot about this combo puzzler in the back room of their local pizza joint, I was able to snag a copy for the Sega Dreamcast. I didn’t even know it was ported to consoles to begin with.
For those who are not familiar with this game, Mr. Driller is often seen to be the combination of classic puzzlers Dig Dug and Tetris. This makes plenty of sense as originally it was designed to be the third entry in the Dig Dug series. In Mr. Driller, you control Susume Hori, the top driller in the entire world. You drill through multiple levels of multi-colored blocks, gaining points for the different color combinations that you can create. A nifty feature is the air gauge and it is of the utmost importance to keep an eye on it the entire game. You can refill your air gauge by collecting air capsules, which also add points. Watch out for the brown blocks though, as drilling through them will make you lose air.
I want to make a note of the music, as it is by far my favorite feature of the game. The music is very cheery, and has a very upbeat sound to it. Thank goodness it was made in Japan, so then I can say the music is uber Japanese. The music pairs so well with the color design and general theme of Mr. Driller that I could just blast the repetitive soundtrack over and over. It has earned itself a spot on my VGM playlist.
Luckily the console version of Mr. Driller is not just a one trick pony. There are multiple modes to choose from like the arcade, survival, and time attack modes. While it does offer more modes than its arcade counterpart, it eliminated the ability to build based on a city’s depth in the arcade mode. Arcade mode has now been stripped to a beginner and an expert mode, digging to a goal of 2500m and 5000m respectively. This is definitely a challenge with only three lives, as I barely made it to the 5000m goal once. I can’t even imagine making it there without dying.
If you have had enough of arcade mode, jump on over to the TIME ATTACK MODE! IT’S TIME TO TURN IT UP TO 11! Alright…maybe 9. In time attack mode, the game does give you one handicap. This time you don’t have to worry about air, since apparently now you can just casually breathe underground. Sure…I’ll buy that. Instead of air capsules, you have to collect little clocks to shave off some time. Try to keep up! Otherwise you may just be crushed by the avalanche of colored blocks known as your doom following behind you.
In survival mode, the 2500m and 5000m goals are no longer there. It is just endless and endless lines of colored blocks, waiting to be drilled. Just like any traditional survival mode, the game continues and continues until you lose your three lives. There are different levels of difficulty and as the game becomes increasingly harder Mr. Driller tries to crush you under the sheer weight of difficulty. Bring it on Mr. Driller!
While I have reviewed a number of puzzle games on Nerd Bacon, they are not necessarily my forte. Contrary to this
though, I was able to pick up Mr. Driller and excel at it with ease. While I am not saying it was insanely easy, since once you reach the 1500m mark if you don’t keep moving you are screwed, that is if you make it that far without running out of air. The creators behind Mr. Driller sure know how to design a game to appear easy, but be completely difficult once you pick it up and play. I can’t tell you how many times I have been killed by falling blocks, but it is rare that I run out of air.
Alright now let’s talk about the graphics. Mr. Driller has no obvious reason to flex out the graphics engine that the Dreamcast has to offer, and it definitely doesn’t. This isn’t a problem though, since if Namco used the full power of the engine, than I doubt the game would look as cute as it does. The backgrounds also have different designs each level and add just enough variety to not be distracting during game play. I bet a full 3D rendering of Mr. Driller would look horrendous, no thanks. It nails the 2D graphics and presents Susume Hori as a cute little fella, taking the world by the storm with just his drill. All of the game is presented in a clean high resolution, making the entire game crisp and finished.
I do want to throw a little bit of strategy your way. You can’t be slow and wait for an opening, especially in the extra modes. Just keep moving and pray that you get out of the way fast enough to actually dodge the falling blocks of death. While personally I try to collect as many air capsules as possible to make sure I don’t die, I am sure as hell raising the possibility of death by falling block. Try to develop a blend of these strategies, where you can still wait for a few seconds for a breather every now and then.
Anyways, next time you a looking for a challenging, yet nostalgic puzzler to pick up and play, definitely consider Mr. Driller. The game is an addiction waiting to happen, whether it be the cutesy design or fun as hell gameplay, somehow Mr. Driller will grab your attention. If you are looking for a different puzzle game to occupy you on your little new tech mobile devices, also check out my review of Alchemic Phone 7.
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