Mr. Driller has become quite a beloved arcade puzzler over the years and after a solid WiiWare release, it seems Namco Bandai thought it might be time for the game to make an appearance on DSiWare as well. Now puzzle fans looking for a little arcade digging action can enjoy the game on the go and with a nice added set of touchscreen controls to go along with it.
The basic gameplay premise of Mr. Driller hasn't changed much since the game was first introduced a decade ago, but there are a few new touches in the DSiWare release to at least give the game a hint of fresh appeal to those who've already enjoyed the game's releases on various other systems. You still have to guide your digger down through a plethora of multi-colored blocks, picking up air capsules and avoiding being crushed by falling blocks on your way to the goal at the bottom of the stage. While this might sound easy enough, you'll quickly find that trying to join like-coloured blocks to cause the chain reactions needed to take out multiple blocks at once while manoeuvring around the area and still trying to find time to pick up air capsules can become quite challenging in a hurry.
This DSiWare version offers up three different modes of play. The Mission mode is the main game itself and offers you a chance to play any of the game's 17 levels in a challenge to reach the goal and rack up as many points as possible doing so. You'll even be able to purchase speciality items that can make things a bit easier by racking up mileage. You'll also be graded on your performance on each level and depending on how well you did, you'll be awarded one of three medals. While this might seem like a small touch, it does offer an incentive to go back and try to get gold medals on each level if you weren't able to do so the first time around.
Time Attack mode allows you to play each level in a race to complete the level in the shortest amount of time. Each level has its own set time limit for you to shoot for and the game will even save your best time in case you want to come back to the level and shoot for an even better time.
If you're looking for something even more challenging, you can choose to play the game's Dristone mode. This injects a huge amount of strategy into the game and allows you to attempt to reach the goal by carefully choosing each drilling you perform along with the many Dristones strung around each level. Each time you drill it uses up air in your reserve, so you'll have to figure out the best way to proceed down through each stage if you're going to make it to the goal with the limited supply of air being eaten away each time you drill. While this might sound quite similar to the main game, it's actually much more intense and offers a nice twist for those who prefer a more deliberately-paced puzzle experience.
While there aren't a lot of added bells and whistles in the visual presentation of the game, the developers have still done a solid job of bringing the vivid and colorful world of Mr. Driller to life on the two screens of the DSi system. There's plenty of variety and detail in the many areas and block schemes, and you'll never have any trouble following the games action, even using the rather tiny characters the game makes use of. And to compliment the visuals, there's also plenty of upbeat and catchy musical tracks to liven things up.
In truth, there's not a lot here that fans of the series haven't already seen before and while gamers who just can't get enough of the Mr. Driller experience will likely enjoy this budget-priced release, fans looking for something new to sink their teeth into might come away a bit disappointed. The game is still as much fun as ever to play and despite the WiiWare version being perfectly capable, the game seems to fit the DSi system a bit better overall.
Mr. Driller: Drill Till You Drop doesn't try to change things up much and certainly doesn't try to reinvent itself for its debut on DSiWare. It basically takes some of the better ideas of the series and packages them into a nice budget-sized title that should give fans of the series yet another Mr. Driller release to enjoy. Of course you still can't help but wish that the developers might have taken a few more risks and tried to mix things up a bit more to inject some new life into the series rather than taking the safe route yet again. Either way, it's still hard to complain much given the game's fun factor and low 500 Nintendo Point price tag.