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Think Before You Drill

Mr. Driller 2 for Gameboy Advance is certainly an interesting fast-paced puzzle game. The game by Namco is actually a port of their arcade game, with a few tweaked things and some additions to make it compatible with the GBA and more valuable. Has Namco created the next Tetris or is it a disappointment?

The story of the game is really simple but works to give a background to the game and its characters. Creatures called Under-grounders have started mass-producing colored-blocks to the point that they are starting to reach above the ground on several places of Earth. When Susumu finds out of this, he decides to take it on his own and drill through the blocks until finding the reason behind this and solving the situation.

Story screenshot

The game has a simple controls and gameplay mechanics. Your objective is to drill down through colored blocks until you reach a certain amount of distance, or in the case of endless, until you lose. The controls are easy, Control Pad lets you move while any button except for Start or Select is for drilling. All the controls are responsive and work well. The puzzle part of the gameplay comes with the fact that the colored blocks can join together and if there's four or more connected, they disappear and give you extra points. If they end up falling on top of you, they squish you and you lose one life, so you need to keep moving and thinking fast. There's also brown like-rock blocks, that have to be preferably dodged, as they are obstacles and can't be drilled immediately. You need to drill them several times to be able to go through them, and then if you break one, you'll actually end up losing 20% of air, which is another mechanic of the game that makes it fast-paced, the time limit.

The air meter in the game is essentially a time limit you have before you end up losing a life. While it does drain fast, you can actually recover it with Air Tanks that are randomly placed through the level and occupy one block. Each Air Tank recovers you 20% of air and as I mentioned before, drilling a brown block will take 20% off. As you progress through the stage, you'll actually find out that the Air Tanks are placed in more tricky places, which end up requiring more strategy to get, but are definitely still possible to obtain.

Gameplay screenshotGameplay screenshot

Graphically, the game is not that impressive. The game feels like it was ported as easy as possible to the GBA, with really simple graphics but respecting the art style. The menus do look a bit plain for the most part, but in the gameplay parts, the game looks ok with decent looking sprites and animations.

Gameplay screenshot

Related to the sound, it is treated similar to the graphics. There's barely any music variety while playing, as all courses in the game share the same music that is cycling as you go deeper in the level. Something that's nice though is that the game does include voice acting in cut-scenes and while in the game and all these voice samples are clear and sound of good quality.

While the game does offer several modes, there's still not that much content to it. There's a story mode, which includes a few stages with varying difficulty, a time attack mode, which challenges you to go down a certain distance through several courses before a certain time limit, and there's also an endless mode, in which you have to dig as deep as possible with a certain amount of lives. All of these modes also let you save records and stats for each one independently, which is a cool thing to have. There's also a simple 2-player multiplayer mode which can definitely add to the experience.

Overall, Mr. Driller 2 is a nice fast-paced puzzle game that will provide a good challenge for players. Sadly, the game doesn't include much content besides the basic game and the secrets you'll find aren't that special.

(About the Virtual Console version)

The Wii U VC version doesn't include multiplayer, so there's even less content to enjoy. :/

Link-NM

Gameplay 8 Singleplayer 7.5
Story 7 Multiplayer 7
Graphics 7 Unlockables / Secrets 6
Sound 7.2 Replay Value 7.5
Overall Score
7.5