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Mr. DRILLER DrillLand
Game Reviews

Mr. DRILLER DrillLand

Classic gameplay and modern polish make this updated journey to DrillLand a trip worth taking.

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There’s plenty to complain about when it comes to the modern video game industry! I’d love to go into that in detail, but instead, I’d like to talk about why there’s not all that much to complain about after all. See, the nice thing about modern gaming is the insane amount of variety available for what you can choose to play. There’s so many games. There’s too many games. Fantastic Japanese games from yesteryear are finally being localized for non-Japanese gamers to finally enjoy, so there’s that.

You’ll never have the time to play them all, so it’s time to start prioritizing – and if you’re a puzzle fan, classic import puzzler Mr. DRILLER DrillLand, which is now available on Steam and Switch, should hop to the top of your list.

Originally released on the GameCube in Japan in 2002, DrillLand takes the classic Mr. Driller gameplay and spices it up by allowing players to visit several attractions throughout the titular drill-themed amusement park. I’m about as excited about a drill-themed amusement park as anyone reasonable would be – that is, very – so of course I was eager to get to work. Naturally, if you just want to play Mr. Driller without any additional zaniness that’s also an option, including a choice of characters with slight variations on movement and dig speeds if you’re looking to only mix things up a little bit.

If you’re not into solo play you can, naturally, grab a friend to join for competitive multiplayer, but the focus is clearly on the attractions. Lots and lots of attractions.

Said attractions are all pretty decent, with my favorite being the RPG-styled Hole of Druaga. Unsurprisingly this is themed after the classic Tower of Druaga, and like in that game you’re looking for treasure in order to get through a locked door, battle enemies and save a princess. The treasure here takes the form of Drilstones, magic jewels that can restore your health, destroy large swaths of blocks or even teleport you around the map, which consists of several interconnected Mr. Driller playfields. Even if you’ve played classic Mr. Driller to death, Druaga adds enough to make things feel new again.

That’s really the case for all the attractions. Drindy Adventure is an obvious nod to Dr. Jones, featuring traps like boulders to avoid; Horror Night House includes ghost enemies to defeat with holy water; Star Driller includes automatically-disappearing blocks, which do a great job of making everything much more frantic than usual, as typically death is your own fault for popping blocks you shouldn’t have rather than the blocks popping on their own. When you’re done with variant gameplay, you can head back to DrillLand World Tour to get back to the comfortable classic Mr. Driller you know and love.

It won’t surprise you that a game released in 2002 runs pretty well, but DrillLand’s graphics hold up given their ultra-stylized look. Everything’s crisp and clear. You can definitely tell the color of the gem that’s about to smash your head in, so that’s kind of a morbid plus. Each attraction has its own cute touches, from Druaga’s callbacks to its arcade ancestor to Drindy Adventure’s traps and surprises, and it’s clear that plenty of love went into every aspect of the game.

There’s enough variety in Mr. DRILLER DrillLand to keep franchise fans going strong, meaning those who missed the GameCube original all those years ago should find this to their liking. If you’re entirely new to the world of Mr. Driller you might find the large number of characters and (if you can believe it) Mr. Driller lore overwhelming, but a nice built-in encyclopedia should help complete your gaming education. Either way, puzzle aficionados ought to take a trip to DrillLand. They’re bound to stay a while.

About the Author: Cory Galliher