iPhone Game Review - Mr. Driller

by: Tina -
About two weeks ago I posted my review on BurgerTime Deluxe for the iPhone. If you didn’t read my review, I was basically all round unimpressed by Namco’s rendition of the classic arcade game in small mobile screen mode. I did, however, get a chance to review another of Namco’s arcade based iPhone games: Mr. Driller. I was much more satisfied with this game for my daily mobile gaming sessions, and continue to play the game on my train rides home.

As Mr. Driller, you drill your way past blocks of different colors assembled in a sort of Tetris scheme in order to make it down to the bottom of the level. Along the way, you will have to pick up air capsules before you run out of breath, all the while dodging any falling bricks.

The game features various play modes including Arcade, Time Attack, and Survival.

Arcade Mode will progress through different levels of difficulty that is simulated by way the blocks are assembled, and where your air capsules are located. Certain blocks signified by a large X cannot be destroyed – or rather you should avoid destroying them, as they take a longer time to drill through and will result in a 20% loss of your air percentage. You can choose the 500m or 1000m level in Arcade Mode, which is the distance you will have to drill before you have successfully drilled through the game. You have three lives in which to be crushed by falling blocks or run out of air and still be able to progress through the game. Falling blocks aren’t always a hazard; you can take advantage of the piling of similarly colored blocks because they will disappear if there are four or more that meet (Tetris again). There are bonuses you can pick up along the way in the shape of fun little blue guys, known in the original arcade game as Undergrounders.

The goal in Time Attack is slightly different than in Acrade Mode. In Time Attack, you have a selection of relatively short themed levels to progress through, and you’ll have to gather as many clocks as you can as opposed to the air capsules. Time Attack is basically a race against time (as you would assume), so you’ll be competing against high scorers.

Survival Mode might be my favorite of the bunch, as you have only one life to drill through. This is another high score focused mode, as the gamer who drills the farthest will get the high score. Here, you can again choose between the depths of levels that you wish to drill through.

Interface and controls on iPhone games are really key (as you might have noticed from my review on BurgerTime). I was quite pleased with both these aspects in Mr. Driller. Using your iPhone on a horizontal plane, your stats are tallied in the upper left corner and give you information on how many blocks you’ve drilled through, how many air capsules you’ve collected, and how many Undergrounders you’ve collected. On the right hand side you will see the current depth you’ve drilled through, your accumulated points, air percentage, and your drill control (all in order from top to bottom). You have a selection of how you want your driller to move using the swipe, d-pad, or accelerometer, which basically involves a physical movement of the iPhone to move your character. Given my problems with the d-pad in BurgerTime, and the clunky and slow movement of the accelerometer, I thought the most effective was the swipe. You need to be able to move your driller quickly to avoid falling bricks. Swiping anywhere on the screen will do, but I stuck to the lower left hand corner as your lower right is the control for the actual drill.

I had a lot of fun with this game. Trying to beat your high scores, and having different levels and difficulty to play around with keep it interesting. It’s a perfect way to pass the time on a trip or while waiting for someone, and if you need to exit you can pick up exactly where you left off, as the game will pause for you upon your exit. Being that it is a fun and simple game that you can easily become addicted to, and that the controls are responsive enough to not be a hindrance to gameplay, I definitely kept this on my iPhone for all future train rides.
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