Mr. Driller W (WiiWare)

Game Review

Mr. Driller W Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Philip J Reed

Drill, baby, drill!

That Mr. Driller W would be among the better puzzle games on the WiiWare service was somewhat of a given. It's a close relation to Dig Dug - a classic arcade series if there ever was one - and its own line of releases spans more consoles than you might have known existed. Mr. Driller has a long, rich and well-established history, and if you haven't been a part of it yet, there's no better time to dig in. Or should that be drill? Ha! Ha! Ha ha! (And so end the puns.)

The concept of the game is simple; you begin at the "surface" of each level (represented by one of six countries, each of which has a further division of three difficulties) and must drill down to a predetermined depth. Easy, right? Well yes, in theory. (In theory, Communism works. In theory.)

There are a number of other factors to keep in mind during your descent, however, even on the lowest difficulty settings. Primary among these is the safety of your character, who, for some strange reason, doesn't appreciate being crushed to death under falling rocks. Go figure! Your secondary concern is your oxygen level, which depletes steadily over time and must be refilled by finding spare canisters, lest you turn blue and die.

Yes, death is a constant, hovering concern and because your character is always one wrong move away from the afterlife, Mr. Driller W sometimes plays more like an action game than it does a puzzler. And this - you can rest assured - is very much a good thing. (In terms of difficulty, a comparison to Mega Man 9 is not entirely out of line.)

The fact that Mr. Driller W qualifies as an action-puzzler lends it both an air of uniqueness and of urgency; you need to think very quickly about what you're doing, what you're going to do next, and - as we will discuss shortly - what you've done. You won't get a chance to rest your mind; you're solving puzzles the whole way down. Take a moment to think and you're liable to asphyxiate, or to be killed by a falling block from a combo that's still reacting high above you.

Combos, you see, are not the clear-cut positive achievements that they are in other puzzle games; here, they are just as likely to get you killed as they are to boost your score, as blocks will continue to fall, react to each other, vanish, break apart and tumble down from high above you. The blocks don't cease to exist just because you've scrolled them away...no sir. You always - and we do mean always - need to be ready in case the unforeseen consequence of an ongoing chain comes falling from above, all set to conk you on the head, ending your drilling, and your game. It's a brilliant way to complicate the inherently positive nature of combos, and it will force you to consider every action beyond the fruit of its immediate results.

Beyond this you will also encounter several different types of blocks that will hinder your progress, sometimes by costing you 20% of your oxygen to drill through, by refusing to react to other blocks, or - my personal favorite - by vanishing of their own free will, setting into motion avalanches that will either have to be avoided or outraced to the bottom.

In spite of the Saturday-morning art style and the simple concept, this game offers some of the most serious challenge in the entire WiiWare library. The easiest difficulty setting will indeed put up a fight, and once you move on to the higher settings you'll find your time decreased, your travel distance increased, and a desperate necessity to solve complicated block patterns before you even get a chance to evaluate them!

In a lesser game, this would be frustrating. In Mr. Driller W there's just enough compulsion and encouragement to keep that Wiimote in your hand. It's tough, after all, to get mad at a game that's so much fun.

For those who can conquer the various difficulty levels, at least two other play modes can be unlocked (an endless mode, and something else that takes place in outer space and won't be unlocked by yours truly any time soon), along with one additional mystery character.

The choice of characters adds a good deal of variety to the game, as each one shakes up play style somewhat. For instance, playing as the dog allows you to jump out of holes two blocks deep (other characters can only jump one), and playing as the robot will allow you to be "crushed" once by falling blocks without dying. (No concessions are made for running out of oxygen, however!) The choice of characters doesn't completely redefine the gameplay but it's a great way of tipping the scales a little bit in your favor, even if the extreme difficulty takes a lot more than a leaping dog or uncrushable robot to overcome.

There are four control styles to choose from and local leaderboards to track your score, as well as several different profiles for saving your progress. There are three separate difficulty settings in each of the six main levels, and while that may not sound like much, you will be busy for a long time completing them all, and since each level is randomized (within a certain set of parameters depending upon the difficulty) you can look forward to a new experience every single time you play.


Adorable visuals, quirky background tunes and an urgently addictive gameplay mechanic all add up to a truly unique and rewarding action-puzzler. While the difficulty might be a bit steep for younger players (and some of us as well...ahem...) and not many people will have the skills to unlock everything, there's no denying that Mr. Driller W is at least as fun as it is challenging. Easily recommended.

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User Comments (67)



Damo said:

Massive fan of Mr Driller here. Awesome review mate!



Sean_Aaron said:

Wow, that was higher than anticipated (cue queries of how Drill Land can be the "ne plus ultra" of driller games and yet have the same score!).

I'm so happy this has finally released elsewhere. Now all Namco needs to do is localise Drill Land for the Wii and all will be well with the world!



Knux said:

Awesome review, Chicken Brutus! I have never played a Mr.Driller game before, but I think that will change soon!



Cheezy said:

This has been the first WiiWare I've been itching to pick up since Bubble Bobble Plus!!!



vampirelich said:

I just recently picked up Mr. Driller: Drill Spirits on ds, i really enjoy it, do you think this game is worth the 800points if i already have a Mr. Driller game? Basicly im wondering if this is different enough from the ds game to warrent having both?



Aviator said:

Great review. You've just confirmed my already confirmed mind on buying this game.



Aviator said:

Never knew about the zooming out aspect to the gameplay. Thats gonna give it some extra challenge.



accc said:

Great review as always Chicken! Personally, I would probably knock the score down to an 8 due to the somewhat lacking amount of content, but this is still an excellent puzzler that I can see myself revisiting again and again.

BTW, I think the "something else that takes place in outer space " you're referring to is the second endless level. I unlocked it by reaching 1500m in the first endless level.



Mik said:

@accc I think he said that so as to not spoil it for people who haven't played the game (yet)!



accc said:

@Mik - I don't see why he wouldn't want to spoil that, it's mentioned in the manual so it's not like it's a big secret or anything.



Sean_Aaron said:

Thanks accc, I was wondering how to do that! And Mik I have it on good authority that Chickens are pretty crap at drilling, so I seriously doubt it was an anti-spoiler measure!

@vampirelich: This game basically seems to be a direct lift of Drill Spirits, so unless you want the option to play it on your Wii as well, you can probably give it a pass. Getting an import Gamecube/Wii and getting Drill Land, on the other hand would definitely be worthwhile!

I have Drill Land and I didn't regard this as redundant due to the myriad difficulty levels and leaderboards.



bro2dragons said:

This is my first time posting. love the site, guys! i'm a nintendo loyal, so i come here for non-nintendo bashing news and reviews now instead of gamespot or ign.

but on topic: i'm definitely intrigued by this one. so as long as we're discussing drills, how about a WiiWare Drill Dozer??



Jazzem said:


Think I'd prefer a portable version so I'll see how the DSiWare version fares, but I loved Mr Driller on the Dreamcast. I'm up for another round of it!



Philip_J_Reed said:

"I have it on good authority that Chickens are pretty crap at drilling."

Guilty as charged. But getting less crap by the minute!

Also, it's a great testament to the game that I'm really, really bad at it, and still manage to enjoy it so much!

Oh yes, I nearly died of shock.



jbrodack said:

Good review though a mention of how it compares to other games in the series would have made it more complete. However, I appreciate a review like this more than a review like say from IGN where they spend the whole time complaining about what it doesn't have. Since Drill Land never came out outside japan this seems like a good choice for those that want a drill game



Ziondood said:

Ooooo dang i cant wait to pick this one up!
The one for the 360 wasnt tht great =/
I was hoping the gamecube version would have been released over here =/



StarDust4Ever said:

I just got done reading the craptastically biased review Of this game on IGN. Complete waste of time. Apparently, they care more about online leaderboards than gameplay mechanics.

I may just give this a pass, because I generally tend to get frustrated at games that make me die in less than 30 seconds. Megaman, anyone?



Vendetta said:

First a 1, then a 2, and then a... 9? Nothing like a chicken with conviction!

Awesome review, friend. I'll be getting this today.



bboy2970 said:

@nintendork: Yeah, I just read the pile of crap, I mean "review" a few minutes ago. I then proceded to leave a very angry comment blasting the complete ass of a person who wrote it.



Twilight_Crow said:

Geez, that IGN review, is the worst review ever, he practically said: "It's a puzzle game where you drill, I played it for 30 minutes and (I guess) I unlocked everything, and I'm not playing it again 'cause it has no online leader boards" what a moron.

On the other hand, great review Chicken Brutus , it's so nice you got to review such a good game, 9/10 is totally right, this has become one of my favorites, and I'm pretty bad at it myself . First time playing a Mr. Driller game and I love the gameplay, I hope Drill Land comes to NA someday.



JoeDiddley said:

I usually hate difficult games but I love Mr Driller. I have Drill Spirits for the ds but I will probably trade it when I have the versions attached to my wii and dsi.
It's funny watching my girlfriend play as her only strategy is dig as fast as she can to avoid the inevitable avalanche



accc said:

That was an excellent comment you left to ign bboy! I'm going to copy and paste it here in case they get butthurt and decide to delete it.

Ok, here's a question, Why is this Wii hating douchebag reviewing almost every Wiiware release to date? Mr. Hatfield, you are without question a complete idiot. Of course a game can sound pretty bad when you ONLY raise the bad points and completely neglect to raise the redeaming qualities of it. I purchased Mr. Driller on monday and can say it is a great game that has a few faults, but what game doesn't? Firstly, I don't care what you say, no one is ever completing every level on every difficulty in under a half hour. But I don't really blame you for not knowing this considering it looks like it would be a stretch to say that you played this game for more than 30 minutes. The robot is the best no matter what huh? Well he would be but you completely neglected to mention that he is completely able to run out of air and die. I believe the characters are very well balanced and suit different players. For example, my favorite is the dog for his ability to jump 2 blocks high. Speaking of which, I didn't see any mention of jumping in the review nor did I see any mention at all of the air capsules in the ground that you can obtain to recover 20 percent of your air. I consider this a pretty big point seeing as how it would be IMPOSSIBLE to win without them. While we're on the topic of things you forgot to mention (and there are many of them), How about the blocks that need 5 drills to break and then take 20 percent of your air. Or how about the blocks that randomly disappear making dangerous avalanches occur. Or how about the blocks that don't vanish. Or maybe how many lives you have. Or how about the fact that this is a very difficult game! Your review makes this game look like the easiest cake walk ever! Or maybe you would care to mention endless mode. I got about as much information from your review as I got from the game's description on the Wii shop. Infact, I think the shops description is even a little more informative! We all know you have a great hatred for the Wii. While I don't agree with that opinion that's just peachy! I don't really care that you hate the Wii! But if you hate a console, please don't review games for it with a disgusting amount of bias. Fow example, I really dislike the 360 so if you were to have me review games on that system, chances are good that it would be a half baked review that wouldn't sound like I knew what I was talking about and the score would likely be rather low. Now why does that seem suspiciously similar to your case with Wii reviews? Seriously, With every review I read from this complete ass, my opinion of IGN get's worse and worse. To the Nintendo team on IGN, please don't let this guy review games anymore. Good games are getting shafted as a result of his total ignorance. To all the IGN readers, If you want a fair and honest review of this game and all other Wii and DS games, Check out nintendolife.com



bboy2970 said:

@accc: Thanks! I'm usually told I'm a good writer but I never fully believe it. I just really hope IGN gives Mr. Hatfield the boot soon. He is extremely unprofessional in his work.



Ryuuga said:

The users at IGN seem to be in the same position as bboy! And I agree as well, because IGN WiiWare reviews are the worst. They play like 2 minutes and think that they know the entire game. That's why I don't read IGN anymore.

Anyway, this game is awesome, but I'm afraid I'm gonna pass for now because I already have the DS version, although I'm pretty sure I won't resist and download it later, after all I luv Mr Driller games! =D




Whoa. I thought it'd be a 7 or 8. Looks like it has some differences to the basic world drilling mode of Drill Spirits DS which is good. This was on my insta-download list anyway and that has been reinforced now. Are they going to release a dsiware version of this as well?!



Chunky_Droid said:

I love Drill Spirits, so I might give this a miss just because I have my Drill Spirits fix

I have it on good authority that Chickens are pretty crap at drilling

Yes, but they're good at scratching! Though Mr. Scratcher is probably a game I wouldn't go near!



bboy2970 said:

@Nintendork: Did you post that comment on IGN about the dog turds? If you did, some douchebag just tried to bash your comment but I think I put him in his place pretty nicely!



Nintendork said:

^ Yes, yes I did. Yeah, I just noticed the idiot's post and was trying to comprehend how he could misread 2 stinking sentences, then I noticed you did for me. So, thanks!



bboy2970 said:

@nintendork: No problem, I quite enjoy a good arguement anyway! I really hope he tries to rebuttle me as I am rather bored right now.



Philip_J_Reed said:

We certainly appreciate the kind words on behalf of our site, and by all means be critical of reviews you don't believe are fair (either here or elsewhere) but try to remain civil! Linking people to our site and then participating in two-way verbal abuse doesn't make anybody look good.

So thank you, but try to take the higher moral ground!



bboy2970 said:

@Chicken Brutus: I certainly appriciate your concern but I believe I am being very civil in my comments and accusations to people on IGN. It is them who are the wild animals and I quite enjoy reading what they have to say back to me. If it makes you feel better, I won't bring Nintendo life into my arguements on other sites anymore.



Ricardo91 said:

I already have Mr. Driller Online and Drill Spirits, so I'll pass on this. Is there anything in this game that's significantly different from the other two that would make me change my mind?



KnucklesSonic8 said:

Wow! Wasn't expecting such a high score!

The review itself was meh if you ask me but at least it got the job done. So far, I have yet to be impressed with CB's style of writing. I'm not trying to be cynical or negative. I just think CB has potential that hasn't been reached yet. Keep at it, CB! I'm sure you'll get better at the art of reviewing in time. All of us reviewers know what that's like and it truly is a great feeling when you improve in your writing skills.

Thank you for convincing me, though, of the game's difficulty. I wasn't so sure about it being a challenging game at first but you definitely showed me that the game not only contains challenge, but some good variety as well -- something I thought would be slightly missing.

@Sean_Aaron: All will be right in the world when Namco brings more VCA games our way!



bro2dragons said:


man... is there really any reason to be critical of Chicken? really? come on, man. that's low. a review is a review, regardless of how it's written (which by the way, there is nothing wron with in this case). as long as it is readable and clearly and concisely illustrates the author's relatively unbiased opinion of the product, then a review has done all it was intended to. he doesn't need to concoct a manifesto. he's giving you the pro's and con's of a videogame! lighten up, man. not all of life is english class. even the greatest linguists appreciate that there is a time for everything. and that's two-fold. 1: a thread like this is not where you criticize the reviewer's writing style, but talk about the game. and 2: a game review is a different kind of writing than a college essay. so ease up, man. i imagine you don't go around pointing out every gramatical mistake your friends make in casual convseration. so don't try to be Mr. Composition here. just let it be.

in any case, i found the review helpful, Chicken, and will probably be downloading when i've finally got the money to get some points.



vakama94 said:

whoa, now i feel better. i downloaded this yesterday and enjoyed the game so far. i was just wondering what score it was going to have, but seeing how high it is, i now know this is not going to suck. i hope they bring the dsiware version too.



accc said:

@koolkitties - The finite stages have three difficulty settings each, and the difficulty setting drastically affects how the level plays out. There are also 2 endless stages that can also be played on any of the three difficulty settings, and 7 different playable characters who each have different attributes that affect the gameplay. Furthermore, the Normal and Hard versions of each stage may take you many attempts to complete (or crack the leaderboard in the case of the endless stages). Needless to say, the length of the game is hardly an issue. (I know I said earlier that I was disappointed in the amount of content, but that was mainly due to the lack of multiplayer. The single-player portion is plenty meaty.)



KnucklesSonic8 said:

@bro2dragons: Do I have reason to be critical of Chicken? Perhaps. His entry review wasn't very impressive (not because of the score he awarded the game, but of the writing itself) and he showed some progress in his review of PB Games. He showed more progress here but I'm just pointing out that with every review, there are areas where a reviewer can improve. I personally have found that to be the case with myself so I'm FAR from Mr. Perfect. I'm just expressing myself, first of all, in hopes that the reviewer will be open-minded enough to acknowledge whatever "issues" may be addressed in the review and work on it for the next review. It's a refining process and you can't refine your work if all everyone does is praise what you do. There's always room for improvement.

The point is: It got the job done. I know you're new here so you're not entirely... familiar with a lot of the aspects of the community here so I'm not really taking offense or anything. Besides, it seems like you didn't thoroughly discern the intentions of my comment. I do appreciate bboy defending me, though, just the same.

@accc: Thank you for saying that. Hearing about the game having more depth to it than meet's the eye is truly enticing and CB did a good job of bringing that out as well. I truly am happy to know this since I had previously thought the game didn't have much depth to it.



calculon said:

Nice review. I've never really been that interested in Mr Driller but I'll definitely get this when it arrives on our shores (hopefully this week!)



WiisWorld said:

Great review, I like your writing style. I'm already a fan of Mr Driller so I'll be getting this asap when it's released here.



Sean_Aaron said:

@KS8: I think your case would be helped by actually making a constructive post possibly indicating where Mr. Brutus could improve. Posting a review is "meh" seems pretty pointless to me.



Sean_Aaron said:

You're probably best to ask that question in the WiiWare thread for this in the forum. I don't have Drill Spirits so I cannot answer it first-hand, but I understand that it is a bit more fleshed out somehow than the Drill Spirits game.



Tate24 said:

this looks like straight port of Mr driller Drill Spirits on DS.

same characters levels & music only difference is layout.

it still looks good but dont think am gonna pay out for this as Ds version has alot more content plus up 4 players can play together shame they didnt add that as online mulit-player option. Missed opportunity.




Mr Driller W is very good. I prefer it much more so to Bit Trip any day. Still, I'd give it a solid 8/10, maybe "85%".

I used to own Drill Spirits DS, and this version is a little more fleshed out than the one mode in Drill Spirits. I believe the DSiWare version has the drillstone driller mode from Drill Spirits as well as this one!



KnucklesSonic8 said:

@Sean_Aaron: So what's everyone else's excuse? Anyway, I touched on it with the style of writing and normally, I do offer more specific forms of constructive criticism but I decided to lay back a bit. So sue me.



Sean_Aaron said:

You're in Canada and therefore spared the lawsuit. Please keep criticism constructive in the future!



megaman-sam said:

I don't like the look of Mr Driller, just something about it puts me off. Although I would like to try it out, I don't want to shell out points on something I don't like the look of.



Zork2 said:

This is my favorite WiiWare game so far. It's out of control and non-stop!

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