Everyone's favorite driller since that dig dug guy returns for another round of drilling and time killing... and this time he brought friends!
Mr. Driller Ace for the GBA brings back the classic gameplay fans of the series know and love. The presentation is terrific as usual, with its trademark dull pastel coloring and uniquely stylized menus. It’s not very often in an “action/puzzle” game we are treated to such eye-candy. If you are importing this game for strictly new Mr. Driller action, you will be fine as far as the language barrier goes, but if you are looking to dive into the new “tamagotchi”-like mode, you will be lost very quickly without the ability to understand Japanese. This is hardly a drawback if, like me, you just want to get your drill on! For those not familiar with the series, you must break your way down through depths of multicolored rocks as you avoid being crushed by falling rocks from above and collect air to keep your little driller lungs heaving. Simple? Yes. Addictive? Crack!
The mode I have spent most time in so far is the regular Mr. Driller mode, which is a great time in itself. To complete the stage, you take your driller down to a depth set as the level goal. A nice new addition to this mode lies in the game tracking how many miles you have journeyed to the middle of the earth, which act like frequent flyer miles for the in-game store. You can use your mileage to purchase game hints, which are a waste of time if you only read English, or the much more appealing number of lives you start with. Mr. Driller Ace provides you with a race mode against computer opponents, which is as close to time attack as you will get in this version. In this mode you race against several computer controlled “ghosts” to the bottom of set stages and earn points for each race. Much like Mario Kart, the player with the most points at the end of the race series ranks number one at the end. Another terrific addition to the game is the ability to choose from several different drillers, each with their own unique attributes and abilities, which range from a tough robot that takes more damage than the other drillers to a faster young lady driller in a sleek white outfit. While not drastically changing the game for veteran players, the robot’s ability to take multiple “crushes” before dying will be a nice option for new players, and the addition of new characters is always welcome in any series.
All in all, Mr. Driller carries the torch well for the series, and is definitely a very import-worthy title. Nothing makes me happier than when a nice game to take on the road, with near infinite replay value, comes my way! This is the perfect addition to any action/puzzle fan's library.