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Mr. Driller
Review By: Siou Choy
Developer:   Namco
Publisher:   Namco
# of Players:   1
Genre:   Puzzle
ESRB:   Everyone
Date Posted:   11-18-00

Creator of such popular home and arcade games as Soulcalibur and Tekken, Namco seems to have taken a different tack with their most recent foray into puzzle gaming, Mr. Driller. While not quite on par with the excellent Super Puzzle Fighter II, it still proves a worthy contender, and a worthwhile, if secondary, purchase. Bright, colorful, and in glorious 2D Mr. Driller manages to catch the eye right away with its retro stylings. Looking somewhat akin to a monkey in a (somewhat garishly colored, in pink and blue) space suit, Mr. Driller is armed with.what else, but his trusty high powered drill to clear away the blocks that have covered the city of Downtown (clever storyboard, eh? No one accuses Namco of having put a lot of thought into the background, but what the hey, it's a puzzle game, not an RPG).

Drillin' Fun

Mr. Driller has 3 modes of play, Arcade, Survival, and Time Attack. The arcade mode offers your choice of Easy or Expert level. In easy you have to drill down 2500ft; in Expert, this becomes 5000ft. Only in the expert mode, however, will you find what is causing the blocks to cover Downtown. In Survival mode you are only given one life as opposed to 3 in the Arcade mode. You have to drill as far down as possible without running out of air or getting crushed by falling blocks, collecting capsules of air along the way to survive. You will also run into (and have to maneuver your way around, when possible) Brown X-Blocks that cause you to lose 20 % of your air supply and take more time to drill than a normal block, so you have to be creative to remove them. This is where chain reactions come into play: once the supporting blocks are removed, the blocks sitting on top of them fall; and you have to form a group of four or more of the same type of blocks to make them disappear. So by connecting a few falling Brown X-Blocks to the ones below, you can easily remove them without having to waste valuable time and air. This not as easy as it sounds, however, since you still have to watch out for falling blocks that didn't find anything to attach themselves to, or Mr. Driller will get squashed. After completing 500ft in arcade mode the scene shifts and the blocks change in style and colour, the puzzle increasing in difficulty as they do.

Controlling Mr. Driller is not always as easy as it could be. I found that at times he would jump on top of blocks I wanted him to drill and when I actually wanted him to climb on the blocks, he would have trouble doing so. This makes it more difficult than necessary to escape the falling blocks.

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