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Mr. Driller DrillLand review for Xbox Series X, PS5


Platform: Xbox Series X
Also On: PS5, Xbox One, PS4, Switch, PC
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Developer: Bandai Namco
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-4
Online: Yes
ESRB: E

Mr. Driller might not be the most popular video game mascot out there, but from what I’ve played of this series over the years, it’s always worth checking out a new entry. This latest release, Mr. Driller DrillLand is a remake of a GameCube release from 2002 that never made its way over to North America until the remake was released on Nintendo Switch last year. Now Mr. Driller DrillLand is available on PlayStation and Xbox platforms as well, and launched earlier this month. 

If you’re not familiar with the series, Mr. Driller is essentially an old school arcade style puzzle game. You control Mr. Driller or his various friends, as they are dropped into a vertical play space that has multiple colored blocks that you need to drill downward through. As you drill through blocks moving down, left and right, the blocks left behind above you may fall down, adding an element of danger that you’ll need to avoid. For most modes in Mr. Driller DrillLand, when you cause falling blocks to match up against other like-colored blocks during their descent, they will link together and clear themselves off of the board. It can be a little tricky to understand at first, but it doesn’t take a lot of time to understand the basic idea and grasp how to effectively chain blocks together. It can definitely be harder to navigate when you factor in the various obstacles, traps, and hazards found in different modes of play, which is where the actual challenge tends to come in.

Mr. Driller DrillLand features a number of modes to add variation to the basic gameplay mechanic. There’s The Hole of Druaga, which sees you collecting power-ups as you drill down called Dristones. These powerups can clear all blocks of a certain color, change block colors, and grant HP. You’ll also need to stockpile Dristones for when you encounter the level boss, which can only be damaged by Dristones that remove blocks, and the boss will alternate his color so you’ll need to be sure to match up your Dristone with whatever color the boss is. 

Another unique mode is Horror Night House, which will have you collect Holy Water as you advance. The board is populated with ghosts that move between undestroyed blocks, and you’ll need to consume Holy Water before drilling a block with a ghost in it, otherwise you’ll take damage. If you successfully defeat a ghost, you’ll gain a Dristone, and you’ll need to collect a certain number of Dristones in order to clear the stage. 

There are 5 main modes in the game, varying in difficulty and length. For difficulty you can opt between classic and casual, with classic being the sort of default difficulty that lines up with the original 2002 release on GameCube. I’d argue that both difficulties can take a bit to get used to, especially if you’ve never played a Mr. Driller title before, but again I don’t think it takes too long to understand the basic tenets of how the game works. In addition to the main modes, there are shops you can visit via Drill Town that will allow you to purchase power-ups that you can take into stages with you, or optional collectible items like cards and other trinkets. 

There’s also online and offline multiplayer modes for up to 4 people, allowing you to either race to the bottom of a stage, or battle against other players by collecting medals and using falling blocks to stun opponents. I will say that the online mode appears to be somewhat dead already, I’ve tried multiple times to get an online game going via matchmaking with no success, so you may want to consider bringing friends along if you’re wanting to check out the multiplayer modes in this one. 

I think Mr. Driller DrillLand is a pretty solid time, provided you enjoy throwback arcade style games like this to begin with. The story elements are light and certainly not a highlight, the presentation is a little underwhelming, and the unlockables aren’t ultra compelling either. But the core gameplay is fun enough to keep you coming back for more, and spread across 5 modes, most of which are distinct, gives you just enough to do to keep you entertained and coming back for more. It’s also pretty much the only readily available Mr. Driller game on modern platforms, so if you’ve ever been curious about the series, this would be the one to check out. 

Note: Bandai Namco provided us with a Mr. Driller DrillLand Xbox code for review purposes.

Grade: B+