Since the action and RPG genres have taken hold of today's next-generation gamers, a few cherished genres have unfortunately fallen by the wayside. Among these sad casualties is the puzzle game. While refreshing, Mr. Driller lacks long-term appeal and probably won't fill the void in your gaming repertoire.
According to Mr. Driller's introduction, "The town is being overrun with colored blocks." Creeping up from deep within the earth, the adorably button-nosed Mr. Driller must get to the bottom of things - literally. Mr. Driller's arcade mode requires you to burrow to the bottom of either a 2500- or 5000-foot passage. By facing a direction, Mr. Driller will drill through the block next to him, causing all like-colored blocks touching it to crumble as well. Three obstacles - gravity, Mr. Driller's air supply, and the insidious X blocks - make this harder than it sounds.
Providing the requisite falling to classify Mr. Driller as a puzzler, gravity causes unsupported blocks to fall, potentially crushing our pink-clad hero. Falling blocks will glom on to any like-colored blocks they pass, however, requiring you to drill strategically. Likewise, gravity will cause any group of four or more like-colored blocks to disappear, whether all four fall or one passes three stationary blocks. Mr. Driller has a limited supply of air, which can be replenished by collecting capsules. Fortunately, these are conveniently peppered throughout the flow of colored blocks. However, getting to these capsules can be difficult, largely due to the third and final obstacle - the X blocks. Mr. Driller can drill through the rusty metal blocks, but doing so mysteriously drains 20 percent of Mr. Driller's air supply. However, X blocks share all the other characteristics of normal blocks and thus can be dealt with accordingly. This becomes especially necessary in the deeper layers of Mr. Driller's descent, as X blocks tend to gravitate toward air capsules.
Mr. Driller has all the makings of a simple and addicting puzzler, but a few problems get in the way. You'll probably grow tired of the arcade mode shortly before or after mastering the 5000 Ft. Challenge. As the additional modes, survival and time attack, are essentially much harder, single-try versions of the arcade mode, Mr. Driller's appeal is short-lived. Perhaps this is also due to today's puzzle market - the de facto appeal these days stems from multiplayer competitive modes, of which Mr. Driller has none. Fortunately, Mr. Driller will only set you back $20, so the lacking value is somewhat forgivable.
Because the game is a puzzler, you can't expect too much from Mr. Driller's graphics. Pleasingly high-resolution and colorful, the graphics do their job perfectly. Other than the blocks and Mr. Driller himself, there's not much to look at. Mr. Driller's music, however, is downright appealing and hummable. Alternately cheery or dark and thumpy, the music is always enjoyable to listen to and even changes every 500ft or so as Mr. Driller drills. The only problem with the music is that it is extremely loud - you'll definitely opt to turn your television's volume down a few notches, especially when you're confronted by the cacophonous menu screen for the first time.
A great value title that should appeal to almost anyone, Mr. Driller is a cute and quirky puzzler that lacks the variety to make it a long-term contender for your attention like a Puzzle Fighter or Tetris would. At a low price of $20, however, Mr. Driller is a worthwhile and refreshing return to the puzzle genre, however short-lived the game may be.