|System: X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Namco Bandai||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Namco Bandai||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: April 2, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1 (2-4 online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jonathan Marx
When I was assigned Mr. Driller Online I was pretty excited. I love puzzlers, especially on my 360; they offer the perfect respite after a long day and they always look so crisp and clean on my HDTV. Furthermore, I adored Mr. Driller: Drill Spirits on the Nintendo DS. To top it all off, Mr. Driller Online dangled the prospect of frantic online multiplayer action in front of me. I couldn't wait to download the game and enrich my XBLA library. Sadly, I was extremely disappointed by nearly every facet of this game. There is a paucity of game modes, the visuals are bad, and the online play is so lag-laden that it's simply unplayable!
For the uninitiated, Mr. Driller and his cohorts are skilled, futuristic-looking miners that put their drilling abilities to good use. Susumu, Puchi, and company are tasked with boring large holes in the Earth's crust in various locations throughout the world. Each location is progressively more difficult to complete as the tunnels that need to be drilled get deeper and deeper. The objective in each level is to reach the target depth without getting squashed or running out of oxygen. This is more difficult than it sounds as blocks of similar colors lump together and disappear, often causing the blocks above to fall on your character's head. Moreover, if you drill deep enough, your air supply will quickly dwindle. In order to survive, you'll have to choose the most expeditious route and collect enough air tanks to get you through to the end. The more blocks you destroy, creatures you uncover, treasures you claim, and layers you plow, through the more points with which you are rewarded. Gameplay is both very challenging and very addictive.
So why am I giving Mr. Driller Online such a low score if gameplay is both demanding and engrossing? Because the execution in this particular version of the game is so poor! For starters, there are only two meager game modes on the single player side. Standard Driller has you simply breaking blocks in an attempt to get to the bottom and pass the location. Quest Driller sounds like it could be more interesting, as if you're going to go on some cool adventure. Alas, the only difference between the two modes is in Quest Driller you will have to complete a particular task before getting to the end of the layer. These objectives include getting through the layer in a certain amount of time, using a limited number of air tanks or breaking a large quantity of blocks. If you get to the end of the layer before completing the "Quest" the game will end regardless of how many lives you have left. Namco really needed to include a few more modes to provide a bit more variety. Why didn't they include Pressure Driller or Time Attack? Consequently, the lack of modes really makes the single player game feel shallow.
Second, the visuals are terrible. When I first entered the game, I was greeted by a wonderfully sharp welcome screen full of familiar characters and vibrant colors. However, once I got into the actual game, I was miffed by the tremendously blurry graphics. To make matters worse, the juxtaposition of the crisp widescreen frame and the fuzzy central playing field accentuates just how bad the game really looks. It's as if the title was directly ported on to the 360 from the PlayStation or Dreamcast and no one bothered to take the time to clean it up even a little bit. Namco spent no money and took no care in the creation of this game, and it definitely shows.
Third, and most importantly, the online offering is so full of problems it can only be described as broken. As a result, there is no one playing online. You will be immensely hard-pressed to get a game put together in under a half hour. If you try to use the quick match function, you'll never find a game, so it is best if you host your own and wait for others to find you. If you happen to get a few other unfortunate purchasers together, you'll be subjected to painful gameplay. In fact, it is so unbearable that you'll probably laugh at just how bad it is.