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Mr. Driller Drill Spirits Review




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Developer: Namco Publisher: Namco
Release Date: November 30, 2004 Available On: Nintendo DS

Mr. Driller, a puzzle/action-based game that was originally released on the PlayStation and Dreamcast, is one of the simplest games I have ever played. The premise is to drill deep into the Earth’s crust by leading your colorful little drill man through a wall of colored blocks. The gameplay is almost painfully simple, and the same tale sticks with the Nintendo DS installment of this puzzle series, called Mr. Driller: Drill Spirits.

There are several different gameplay modes in Drill Spirits, but all of them revolve around the basic premise of going downwards as fast as you can. Using both of the DS’ screens, you can see the multi-colored blocks that your driller can drill through to reach a certain depth. That is the point of the game: drill downwards and avoid being crushed. As you drill horizontally and sometimes even vertically, the multi-colored blocks will fall and sometimes disappear when combined with blocks of the same color. When this happens, you must quickly react and find a place to avoid falling blocks.

There are, or course, other dangers as you descend into the earth. Your driller has a set amount of oxygen that must be replenished with oxygen tanks lying around the screen. Getting to the tanks is usually pretty easy to do, but you will often go on stretches where you have to wait for a tank to appear.

The game is not all drilling though. The basic Mission Driller and Time Attack Driller follow this simple strategy, but the most interesting mode is Pressure Driller. In this variant, a huge spider-like drill is in hot pursuit of your colorful drill-man and you must fend off the evil machine by shooting fireballs at it while at the same time drilling into the depths. To shoot fireballs, you have to work your way through the ground, picking up capsules similar to the oxygen tanks. Once you collect a few, you can aim at the drill and shoot it. After a few shots, you will take it down and move on to the next level.

Sadly, this is really all Mr. Driller is. It is probably the current puzzle game with the most charm (yes, even more than Zoo Keeper), but charm does not really give you a fun factor or replay value. There are unlockable characters in each of the three single-player modes and a decent multiplayer mode, but that’s about it.

Mr. Driller does not really take advantage of the DS either – while you can use the top screen to see more of your surroundings as you drill downwards, you really do not need the top screen at any point. I paid much more attention to the bottom screen where the action goes on. Also, using the stylus is suicide in Mr. Driller, as it is much faster and more responsive to stick to the D-pad and controller buttons. Trying to use the stylus will only lead you to a Game Over screen after you watch your poor drill-man get crushed by colorful blocks. Last of all, the graphics and sound are not all that great, despite having a colorful and cute charm and even some voice-overs in the various conversations in Mission Driller mode.

In the end, Mr. Driller is not really worth the sticker price for the game that you get. I simply wish there was more to this game, but the basic premise of going straight downwards does not take a game very far. Mr. Driller is a cute game for kids, and maybe an alternative to the DS’ other puzzler, Zoo Keeper; but in the end I felt a little disappointed with the amount of substance found here.

Graphics: 6.5
Sound: 7.5
Gameplay: 7
Creativity: 7.5
Replay Value/Game Length: 6.5
Final: 6.9
Written by Cliff Review Guide