Mr. Driller Review

Mr. Driller is a great choice for mobile, due to its simple play and attractive presentation.

Mr. Driller, excavator extraordinaire and estranged son of Dig Dug (a somewhat obscure relation, to be sure), has starred in several action puzzle games in his young life, including a Nintendo DS title. Namco has also taken the liberty of porting the jackhammer-happy jackanapes over to mobile, so you can compulsively tunnel into the bowels of the earth in your spare moments.Mr. Driller is a great choice for mobile due to its simple controls and attractive presentation. This is a game that almost anyone can play and enjoy.

Watch that air gauge carefully. Mr. Driller enjoys breathing.
Watch that air gauge carefully. Mr. Driller enjoys breathing.

Mr. Driller dwells in a subterranean world of multicolored blocks that run together in veins, stretching all the way down into the darkest depths. What's at the bottom of it all? He doesn't know, but he'd sure like to find out! A single touch of his magic drill will reduce an entire contiguous unit of like-colored stones to powder, gaining Mr. Driller precious depth. At the same time, eliminating blocks will often remove support from the ceiling, precipitating cave-ins. You have to keep the super spelunker alive by nimbly dodging falling debris and collecting oxygen tanks to keep his air gauge from running out. The levels are set in strata consisting of 100 meters each, and the geology of your environment begins to vary as you continue through the game, ranging from less-stable pumice blocks to extra-tough iron boxes. You can choose to play limited 500m or 1000m games, or you can opt for an unlimited endurance test to chase your mad dream at the planet's core.

You'll be able to make all the quick maneuvers you need by using a single thumb on the D pad to move Mr. Driller, aim his drill, and disintegrate blocks. The gameplay tends to alternate between carefully picking your tunneling spots to avoid cave-ins and simply burrowing through the ground as fast as you can; it's possible to engineer cave-ins that fall a short ways and then get stuck to a larger group of the same color, but you're more often going to be drilling laterally to carve out some dodge space. Plus, if you stick four blocks together of the same color, they'll disappear in a Tetris-style mutual annihilation, which can create unintended chain reactions in a hurry. You can bypass a lot of oxygen tanks entirely, but if you're running out of air (a skull-and-crossbones icon will appear once you're down to 20 percent), you may have to make a risky detour to grab the pickups. They become a lot more valuable as you progress, because your air loss begins to accelerate. It's also possible to fight your way through iron blocks in an emergency, although doing so takes about five drill hits and costs you 20 percent of your air supply. Like other excellent action puzzlers, Mr. Driller certainly rewards strategic gameplay, but it also requires a certain amount of skill and dexterity to master.

What's this intrepid spelunker after? Treasure? A hidden city? White-hot magma?
What's this intrepid spelunker after? Treasure? A hidden city? White-hot magma?

Mr. Driller looks and sounds great on the LG VX7000. The bold, surrealist graphics aren't PlayStation quality, but they probably match the best that the GBA or SNES have to offer in the puzzle genre. Their sharpness and render speed put a lot of other molasses-slow mobile puzzle games to shame. The sound effects are also top-notch. There's a nifty little title theme to get the action kicked off and plenty of other effects for drilling, picking up oxygen, and releasing Mr. Driller's eternal soul to the ether. Some more music would have been nice, but there's enough high-quality sound here to keep it on.

In all, Mr. Driller is a stellar mobile port of a great game. There are a few missing pieces here, such as an online high-score board and difficulty controls, but unless you have a phobia surrounding subterranean spaces or hate action puzzle games, we suggest you give this one a try.

The Good
Easy to pick up
Facile controls
Cutesy graphics and sound
The Bad
Gets challenging in a hurry!
No online scoreboard
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Mr. Driller More Info

  • First Released 1999
    • Arcade Games
    • Dreamcast
    • + 6 more
    • Game Boy Color
    • iOS (iPhone/iPad)
    • Mobile
    • PC
    • PlayStation
    • WonderSwan Color
    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.
    Average Rating164 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Namco, Namco Networks America
    Published by:
    Namco, Virgin Interactive, Namco Networks America, Midas Interactive Entertainment, Bandai Namco Games, SCEE, SCE Australia, SCEA
    Action, Puzzle
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
    No Descriptors