GBA REVIEW: MR. DRILLER 2

Just because a game is old doesn't mean that it's a classic. There may be some out there that consider Mr. Driller a classic but I'm not one of them. The fact that Namco thinks it requires a sequel is something that I just don't get.

Someone will inevitable argue that an arcade game is deemed classic by virtue of how long it's been around in the arcades. I would agree with that assessment for the most part but there are some backwoods, backward, arcades and pizza parlors that haven't changed their machines in 25 years. Some small-town gamers are forced to play bad imitations of once-popular games simply because the owner may have purchased them outright for a steal - and will milk them for all they're worth - which usually isn't much. This kind of situation doesn't reflect trends in the real world. These are the kind of places I would expect to see Dig Dug, Bubble Bobble and Mr. Driller - or unreasonable facsimiles thereof.

In one of the lamest stories ever concocted, different colored blocks are originating from beneath the Earth's surface and are threatening major cities across the planet. Only one man can save us from the invading blocks. By drilling through the Earth, Mr. Driller is able to shift blocks of the same color to link together and disappear. Until now, this was the exclusive domain of Mr. Driller but a new driller named Anna has decided to take up this once male-dominated profession. Is that enough of an addition for you to purchase this game? How about wireless multi-player?

Considering that the gameplay remains virtually unchanged from the original, I can't justify Mr. Driller 2's existence. It's so redundant that whatever addicting quality it may possess is eroded quickly over time due to the repetitive nature of the gameplay. Players new to this game may get a real kick out of it for the first hour or so and wonder what the hell I'm talking about but I know there are very few gamers with the patience required to play this to the bitter end - myself included.

Mr. Driller is a Tetris based game but it uses the concept in reverse. The blocks don't move down, as they originate from the bottom. The character moves down instead of the blocks, clearing them by making combos and chains by drilling into the surrounding ground.

Mr. Driller can die if the blocks tumble down on him or if he runs out of oxygen. There are plenty of oxygen power-ups to grab at the beginning of the level but the further down you drill the more scarce the oxygen.

As the difficulty increases you will find yourself faced with some rather daunting puzzles. Moves you make early in the level can force you into a situation in which there is no escape. You have to be able to look at the entire layout of blocks and adopt a strategy from the get go that will take into account the various links that will be triggered in the exact sequences that will permit you to get to the bottom unscathed. This kind of forward thinking is something that you might expect from of a great chess player. We all know that great chess players don't play GBA games. Those that don't possess this kind of super mind power, myself included, will be relegated to playing these levels using trial and error. Not a lot of fun in my books.

Mr. Driller 2 maintains an old-school look and style that does little other than to serve as an excuse for the hackneyed and repetitive gameplay. In its favor it does allow you to save anywhere at anytime. It will also save your high score and features a ranking system to show you just how bad you really are. Not that it inspired me in any way to "do better next time."

I've attacked this game for reasons that I think are obvious but those that would have a difference of opinion may find this game to be everything they want and more. Certainly it's consistent and the gameplay is solid. There are no technical issues to complain about. The graphics are large, well-defined and primary colored making everything easy to see. To help sustain a player's interest there are plenty of unlockables in addition to a multi-player mode.

Mr. Driller and Mr. Driller 2 would have made great unlockable mini -games but like Kramer, George and Elaine, it's just not good enough to make it on its own.

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System: GBA
Dev: Namco
Pub: Namco
Release: April 2005
Players: 1 - 2
Review by Dan
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
2.5
GRAPHICS
3.0
CONTROL
3.5
MUSIC/FX
3.0
VALUE
2.0