#412 Mr. Driller

Posted: 20th January 2020 by Jeroen in Games
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839th played so far

Genre: Puzzle
Platform: Arcade
Year of Release: 1999
Developer: Namco
Publisher: Namco

As the last of this batch of Dreamcast games (for now – the real last one of the batch needs some more time to play), Mr. Driller has always reminded me of early list game Drill Dozer – drilling through coloured blocks to advance through a level. Mr. Driller, however, is a puzzler using these elements – probably a bit simpler at its core than the Gameboy Advance game.

Our Thoughts

Forgetting about the Drill Dozer link, which is quite superficial anyway, Mr. Driller is an excellent puzzle game using drilling. You’re standing on top of a pile of blocks that combine when they’re the same colour. You dig out these blocks a group at a time as you try to make your way to the bottom. There are a few things to stop you: You don’t want to be crushed underneath the falling blocks. The physics hold blocks up if they’re held up by at least one other block, so you can get hiding holes created. If you’re boxed in by indestructible boxes on all sides (except above you) and can’t drill out, you’re gone. Then there’s the time pressure from oxygen running out. You can replenish it by collecting pills, but it adds some pressure once you get to higher levels.

There are a few different modes which vary your goals (how deep you need to go and so on) and gameplay details, but the basics obviously stick around. It’s a good, solid system, challenging enough once you get deep enough while still staying fun to work out. There’s something pushing you to speed up at some point, but there’s a balance between that and not getting trapped. At its best, the big blocks falling cause some nice chain reactions as well and it’s satisfying when they pay off, especially in the bonus levels where you only have blocks of two colours.

Final Thoughts

Every time I look at this game, I desperately look for a PC port of the game. I want to play more of it – if I could, I would have played a round right now. Sadly, it doesn’t exist and I’ve had to put the Dreamcast away, so instead I hope I can get back to it next time it comes out.