If there are any superfluous lines or phrases in this review, the blame must lie with the insidious nature of this brilliantly addictive arcade puzzler. You see, having enjoyed the antics of Mr Driller far longer than was strictly necessary for the purposes of the review, the anxious block-dodging logistics of the game began to intrude on the rest of my life. I couldn't click on a link on a website for fear of the ones above tumbling down and causing a terrible chain reaction, I couldn't play Counter-Strike without wondering where my next packet of air was coming from, and worst of all, I found myself incapable of editing Word documents without imagining getting squished by collapsing blocks of text.
Whether this indicates an imbalance on my part is open to question, but I prefer to think of it as testament to the compulsive playability of Mr Driller. And since the rest of PC is too busy drilling to comment, I doubt I'll find much in the way of argument.
Do Your Block
The concept is this: multi-coloured blocks are invading the earth from deep beneath the ground, and it's up to Mr Driller to bore his way through them and stem the onslaught of evil lozenges before they, er... block something. So, you have a screen full of variously shaped and coloured blocks and a little guy with a drill. Of course, there are complications. Our hero Susumu is only flesh and blood, and needs a steady supply of air to stay alive, supplied by oxygen capsules scattered among the blocks. Some blocks, marked X, are tougher than the rest, and can only be penetrated at the expense of time and a capsule's worth of air. Worse yet as you cut a path down through the layers, blocks left unsupported teeter briefly before collapsing downwards towards your vulnerable little pal.
If the falling blocks touch a like-coloured block on their way down they will stick there, either creating a new ceiling for your mining activities or, if the newly formed cluster is four or more blocks in size, bursting, with bonus points awarded in proportion to the size of the clump. The resulting gameplay is arcade puzzling at its best. Air capsules become increasingly scarce and better protected by X-blocks as you descend, and the race against asphyxiation and falling blocks makes for frantic and panicky drilling.
Comparisons to viral uber-puzzler Tetris are unavoidable, given the style of the game and falling blocks motif, but it's only a superficial similarity. Both games combine cognitive and twitch-based gameplay, but Mr Driller leans far more towards the latter. If anything, Dig Dug is probably a better reference point.
We could go ahead and criticise MrDrillertor its lack of a two-player mode, but this seems downright petty when you look at the price of this little gem. It's a beautifully realised arcade puzzle game, and the fact that your life will become a walking nightmare of collapsing building blocks should be of secondary concern.
Download Mr. Driller
In addition to drilling his way onto the PlayStation and Dreamcast platforms, Mr. Driller has now found his way to the Game Boy. In the game, you take controller of Mr. Driller and you must drill your way through pits of different colored blocks. The main objective is to avoid being crushed by falling blocks or running out of air (there are special air power-ups to be found). Also, players can rack up points by connecting similarly colored blocks. Namco should have this one ready by summer.