Get your drill sharpened and your air supply filled because it is time for Namco’s latest throwback release, Mr. Driller. Yes, the folks at Namco have revived another classic character from games’ past.‚ However, instead of an iconic game like Pac-Man or Galaga, this time’s revitalization is of a lesser character, everyone’s favorite too-excited, slightly flamboyant driller.
Sep. 1, 2009
For those who don’t know, Mr. Driller stars Susumu Hori, who coincidentally is the son of Taizo Hori of Dig Dug fame.‚ Susumu’s task is much like his fathers, to drill, drill, drill.‚ The further and faster Susumu drills through the multi-colored underground blocks of his domain, the more points he accumulates.‚ However, this task is not without its perilous dangers.‚ The deeper Susumu drills, the higher the chance of unsupported pieces of earth will collapse upon.‚ Worse yet, Susumu can run out of air if he drills too long without getting his supply replenished.
Now that a little background information has been laid out, lets talk game modes.‚ Mr. Driller for the iPhone comes in three modes: Survival mode, Arcade mode, Time Attack.‚ In Survival mode, players drill as deep as they can for as long as they can.‚ Players will have to keep an eye on their air-level meter, however, if they want to survive.‚ Luckily, each level in Survival mode will have air-replenishers, which look like little blue pills, dispersed throughout the drill-scape.‚ Still, even an unlimited amount of air will not protect the younger Hori from the falling rocks”¦
Arcade mode has a more level progression-based type of gamplay.‚ On the initial menu screen for the mode, players can choose whether they would like to play levels are that 500m or 1000m long, depending on if they consider themselves “beginners” or “experts.”‚ It would have been nice to see a less extreme designation for what players consider themselves, if only to let me feel something other than severe modesty or tremendous cockiness.‚ Arcade mode is quite similar to Survival mode in that, both modes are evaluated on the distance they drill while also providing air-refilling pills.‚ However, Arcade mode does have one main distinction from Survival mode: Arcade mode players are able to go through multiple lives before the dreaded Game Over screen is bestowed upon them.‚ This one feature definitely made Arcade mode my favorite of the three.
In Time Attack, time subtraction tokens are scattered on the level instead of air bonuses.‚ This is because players are only evaluated on the time they take to clear a stage, rather than how many points they can accumulate.‚ Time Attack is fun because players can choose which level they would like to play on, making it the most customizable of the modes.
Though the game modes are entertaining, my favorite aspect of Mr. Driller is the high-quality nature of its visuals.‚ The Japanese stylization is fun and colorful, making for a less graphics-intensive gaming experience.‚ This does wonders for battery life and making Mr. Driller one of the iPhone’s most unique looking games.
Still, not all of the aesthetic features of Mr. Driller were satisfactory.‚ Every level design in this game is repetitive.‚ It seems like each level was built nearly identical to one another.‚ Sure, the backdrops change for each stage, but Mr. Driller always works on the same blocks with the same colors.‚ The game is certainly cyclical, but never really boring, which is a nice change when compared to other games of the genre and platform.
Namco also continues to implement my favorite controlling scheme in its games, with Mr. Driller being no different.‚ The use of a virtual arrow pad is key for any game like Mr. Driller, so it makes sense for Namco to maintain that approach.‚ To control Susumu, players need to simply point his drill in the desire direction by pressing down on the corresponding arrow on the pad and then pressing the drill button.‚ That’s it.‚ This is a very easily learned controlling scheme and can be used by even the most novice of iPhone gamers.‚ Namco also continues to offer the Swipe and Accelerometer controlling schemes options, but I’m not sure why.‚ It’s always nice to try and attempt to use the iPhone’s amazing features in your product, but that doesn’t mean one needs to do it.
Finally, Namco decided to add a Facebook connect feature to Mr. Driller.‚ This allows players to post their top scores on their Facebook page while also talking a little trash as well.‚ This will add a whole new level of competition between players and friends.‚ I think this is a great addition and will be key to replay value of the game.
Blast Factor: Mr. Driller is a very fun and addicting game.‚ Though it does lack diversity in its levels, Mr. Driller does have some excellent game modes and visual features to make up for it.‚ At $1.99, it has a great price and a great value.
Namco’s Mr. Driller is available exclusively at the iTunes App Store for $1.99.