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Mr. Driller W - WiiWare Review

Game Info
Mr. Driller W

WiiWare | Namco Bandai | 1 Player 
| Out Now | 800 Nintendo Points
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote and Nunchuk; Wii Remote (sideways); Classic Controller; GameCube Controller
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23rd August 2010; By KnucklesSonic8

Mr. Driller is a pretty popular series of puzzle games, but there are people out there (people like me) who have yet to experience any of its games. Perhaps that's whom this WiiWare release is most focused towards: casual gamers who want to experience the series for the first time. If that's true, then Namco Bandai could've done a much better job than what they've done here. Although I'm aware of the fact that other games in this series are a lot better, had I not known that, this game might have prevented me from trying any other Driller game.

    This game can be played with four different control setups: holding the Wii Remote sideways, using the Nunchuk, Classic Controller or Gamecube Controller. Regardless, the controls aren't difficult at all. You use the D-Pad to move or aim your drill and, in the case of the first control scheme, press 2 to dig. But there are some additional rules you'll need to keep in mind as you play. Thankfully, the Driller Lab is great for teaching novice players how to play the game.

    There are a total of 7 characters to choose from, and all of them vary in how fast they are at moving and making drills, and some even have special attributes for beginners. Each stage is split up into a real-life location, such as Russia and China, but these do little more than just serve as a backdrop for the action to follow. There are three difficulty levels you can play on: Easy, Normal, and Expert. Each difficulty has separate ranking charts so you can keep tabs on your best performances. And with the ability to have multiple save files, you can involve friends who come over to see what they think of the game.

Once you begin, you'll notice how nicely everything is laid out. Off to the side is a score display that tracks how far underground you are, your score, how many lives you have and your air supply. Watch this carefully otherwise you'll start choking from going too far beneath the surface. You can replenish your air meter by picking up little green air capsules, so keep your eyes peeled. Each stage has a set amount of depth to it which varies for each region. It's your goal to reach the very bottom if at all possible, but doing so won't be easy. 

    Digging underground will reveal bubbly, coloured blocks that can be joined up with squares of the same colour to disappear from the plain, and create combos in the process. There are some dark brown blocks where digging through them will emit harmful gases that will reduce your oxygen, so watch out for those. Depending on the choices you make on which blocks to dig through, anything that's above will rattle and shake before falling below. Just don't find yourself underneath those hazards as they descend, otherwise you'll get squished and lose a life. The farther you go, the more risky your journey becomes with falling blocks coming from up above. But that's all part of the fun that comes with this game.

For every 100m, you'll encounter a giant block that will serve as a marker of your progress. But don't lose sight of the fact that you're ultimate goal is to reach the very bottom. You see, as you get deeper and deeper, you'll have to manage things rather quickly whilst also giving attention to your surroundings. Considering what will transpire after you make a move is important as you dig, but in reality, most will probably just race to the bottom without giving it much thought. Following a single straight path all the time can get boring, so it's advised that you mix things up by taking different turns as you plunge deeper and deeper towards the Earth's core. 

    The more you play, the less you pay attention to the happy-go-lucky exterior and just go with the flow. The music in the game is a mix between catchy and downright annoying tunes, especially the one on the Main Menu. Some of the voice clips that the characters utter will definitely reveal that this was a Japanese game localized for overseas. That's the only reason why you'd hear "Lucky!" so many times, just like with the Family series by Arc System Works. 

    In the way of variety, Expert stages give you more blocks to get through, creating a bigger challenge for the average player. There are also Crystal Blocks that will appear in some stages, and these will disappear as you get close to them, so be careful for the reactions these spurn. Beyond this, though, there's not much to keep things interesting. Sure you can aim to complete all the levels to the best of your ability, but after some time, you may very well lose interest. Not having any additional modes certainly doesn't help either. Only hardcore puzzle fans who are sold on this concept will continue, leaving everyone else with a stale impression.

This is the kind of game that looks fun but quickly wears off if you see through the initial feelings of addiction. There's really not that much to it, and you'll find yourself asking: "Did I really pay $8 for this?". This could've been a really well-tailored game for both beginners and hardcore fans of the franchise, but the way things are presented, it's more focused towards the latter group. As someone who's never played a Driller game before, I found myself struggling to really get into it. There were times when I would just let go and really enjoy myself, but these instances were few and infrequent. If you think Mr. Driller W is appealing and you don't mind the limited appeal and variety, then there are definitely worse things you can get on the Wii Shop. Otherwise, I'd just advise trying the DSiWare release, which contains more content for a more reasonable price.

17/30 - Okay/Average

Gameplay 6/10 - Interesting concept, some slight variety with the crystal blocks, can either speed through or plan things carefully
Presentation 7/10 - Really nice presentation, looks great in spite of the kiddy look, annoying music and Japanese voice clips
Enjoyment 2/5 - Can be addicting but it also can become stale after some time, little variety to mix things up
Extra Content 2/5 - High scores, unlockables, multiple difficulty settings and characters, no additional modes or means of motivation

Equivalent to a score of 57% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Review by KnucklesSonic8
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