Susumu is back with all of the fun and addictive action that his previous adventure provided. Mr. Driller 2 is the game that fans of the original would expect and newcomers to the series will probably enjoy.
For newbies to the Mr. Driller universe, the game is played by drilling blocks as you descend as far down as you can. The block that your character is facing pops and disappears by the tap of a button and all attached blocks of the same colour disappear with it. Blocks may crush you from above and you may also run out of air. Both of these events take a life away and it's game over when you run out of lives. You must remain vigilant to prevent blocks from falling on your head. When two of the same colour blocks touch, they stick together. When four or more stick together, they disappear. Some blocks are difficult to drill and use up a significant amount of air when you finally drill through it. Air capsules can be found scattered throughout the stages but getting to them isn't always easy. The dynamic of being careful of what's over head and keeping an eye on your remaining air while drilling down as efficiently as possible is great fun. Every 500 feet the block designs and layout change so the game always feels fresh. The controls are very tight and simple which is necessary for a game that requires as much precision and speed as this.
Players can control either Susumu or a new character named Anna in this iteration. The plot involves a subterranean race who keep making blocks that fill up a few of the Earth's cities and our heroes must drill down to get to the bottom of it. The characters have a lot of personality as they are nicely drawn and have cartoony voices. Cutscenes are a lot of fun to watch since the way characters act is hilarious. You will probably laugh out loud a few times while watching them, especially if you enjoy absurdist humour. The audio is well done as music changes frequently so it rarely gets repetitive and sound effects are playful and correspond well to the action.
There are a few modes that are included in Mr. Driller 2. First, mission mode consists of themed stages with defined depths that the player can complete to unlock ending cutscenes. Next, endless mode is played until the player runs out of lives and is a great mode for trying to get high scores. Finally, time attack mode is a series of 10 defined stages where players race to the end as fast as they can. Considering the stage layouts are defined, your ability to memorize plays a more important role than your Mr. Driller skills. This makes time attack counterintuitive as players usually rely on their instincts while playing Mr. Driller. Some time attack stages mix up the gameplay by having items that rotate and flip the stage. This is a nice way to diversify the game but after all is said and done; all three of the game's modes play basically the same way.
If you want to play Mr. Driller 2 with a friend then you will need two copies of the game. This is kind of disappointing as a lot of other Game Boy Advance games offer a stripped down single Game Pak option. If you can get your hands on two copies then multiplayer can be quite fun. Players can select the difficulty and number of lives before starting a match. Matches are played by players racing each other and if one croaks then the other one wins. It's simple and it works.
Mr. Driller 2 has some nice extras that add a lot of replay value. Ending cutscenes are unlocked in mission mode after completing each stage as each character. To unlock them all you'll have to complete every mission as both Susumu and Anna. There are also 20 driller cards to unlock that act like the game's achievement system. They are unlocked by completing tasks such as finishing groups of time attack stages and digging a certain total depth. Being able to unlock everything will be a huge challenge even for the most skilled drillers.
As an action-packed game that constantly keeps players on their toes, Mr. Driller 2 is a great portable version of the series that will entertain and challenge even the most skilled gamers.
- + Classic Mr. Driller gameplay mixes puzzle and action elements in a fun way
- + Unlockables add replay value
- + Cutscenes are enjoyable to watch
- - Time attack relies heavily on memorization
- - Gameplay doesn't change much between the few modes that the game offers
- - 2 player requires two copies of the game