Another Mr. Driller game -- this time with a crazy Engrish title!
Mr. Driller is a very cute-looking Japanese action-puzzle game that requires you to guide your character down through mines, drilling jelly-like coloured blocks. Mr. Driller can drill in any direction by pressing the direction and the A Button. If you drill a coloured block, it will disappear, and any other blocks will be affected by gravity and fall after a couple of seconds. Blocks of the same colour will connect to each other -- if falling blocks connect and make a block that has four blocks or more, it will disappear. These conditions mean that you can chain falling blocks to clear more, but it also means that it's quite possible for you to get crushed. In addition to this danger, your air is constantly ticking away, so you need to replenish it by collecting air capsules strewn throughout the shafts. If you drill an "X" block, it will take a couple of hits and you'll also be penalized by losing air. The goal is to make your way to the target depth without dying.
Mr. Driller 2 for the Game Boy Advance introduced a new character, Anna, and Mr. Driller: Drill Spirits (a sneaky way of writing "DS") beats this by introducing four new playable characters. They are Taizo, Puchi (Mr. Driller's faithful dog), Holinger-Z (a robot) and Ataru. There doesn't appear to be any physical difference between the different characters, but certain modes appear to have two characters together in the status bar, almost like a co-op mode of some kind.
The newest addition is definitely that of a massive smiling Driller Spider-Bot. This massive robot nearly occupies the entire top screen. When the Drill-Bot is on the top screen, the status bar is different -- it has a map showing roughly how far (or close!) it is from you, along with a bar called "D-HP". Driller Hit Points, maybe? The only thing that contradicts this theory is that next to the D-HP bar is an amount in tons, so perhaps it's the Drill-Bot's weight. Drill-Bot mode also has "POW" capsules littered among the puzzle blocks, but there don't appear to be any hints on what they do.
The Time Trial Mode seen in Mr. Driller 2 also makes a return. As you might guess, you have to aim for (or beat) the target time. You can do this by navigating your way through the drill blocks as quickly as possible. They're also designed so that if you drill a specific block, it'll clear a nice long passage for you to run or fall through, often leading you into time tokens, which freeze the clock for the appropriate amount of time. Mr. Driller 2 also had tokens that flipped the blocks sideways and inverted them, so hopefully they'll make a return in Drill Spirits.
Mr. Driller: Drill Spirits looks like a great puzzle game for the Nintendo DS. When it was first revealed, Namco announced that it could be controlled with either the Control Pad or the Stylus. Namco recommended using the stylus because you'd be able to become more skilled and accurate if you did so. It's also good to see that Namco is using the two screens for more game area, rather than just slapping a map onto one of the screens. And of course, who doesn't love the idea of giant killer mincing robots? Puzzle fans, keep your eye out for this one.