There is definitely no shortage of brick based puzzle games on the Xbox LIVE Arcade, and we only seem to be getting more. This makes deciding which one to buy quite a task. Is the latest addition to the genre worthy of your precious Microsoft Points? Read on to find out.

For those of you not familiar with the background of the Mr Driller series of games, here is a quick history lesson. The drilling gameplay mechanic began back in arcades back in 1982 with the introduction of Dig Dug. The star of Dig Dug is Taizo Hori, who is the father of Susumu Hori, who is carrying on the family business of drilling in Mr Driller.

Mr Driller Online is the latest in the series of games, and whilst the gameplay remains a fairly solid formula, the game is ultimately let down by far too many issues.

The gameplay in Mr Driller Online should be instantly familiar to anyone who has played any of the previous games in the series, and for those who haven’t, it’s a breeze to pick up. The basic premise is that you have to drill down to your objective height, without running out of air or being crushed by falling blocks. To do this you are equipped with a trusty drill which you use to drill through the various coloured blocks, and along the way you will find air canisters which will replenish your air supply.

As with any game of this nature, there are of course certain things in place to make the game more difficult. First off there are the brown blocks, which take a few drill shots to break, and also remove twenty units of your air when you break them. These blocks are often blocking the path to other air canisters, so you have to decide if it is worth going for the air canister, and possibly losing more air than you gain. The other key gameplay element happens when four or more blocks of the same colour match up. When this happens, the blocks get destroyed, which can send other blocks tumbling down on top of you, and if you get hit with a block, you lose one of your three lives. Now you understand how the game works, let me tell you about what doesn’t work.

First and foremost, with a game that has ‘Online’ in the title you would expect there to be some pretty good online modes. Unfortunately in Mr Driller Online there are only two modes, single and tag gameplay. The more interesting of these modes is the tag modes, which has teams of two working together to drill, sharing their air supply between both of them, which can make some pretty interesting co-op gameplay. This is of course, when the online mode decides it wants to work, which is incredibly rare. Almost every game online featured game breaking lag, making the whole thing simply unplayable. To make matters worse, there are no offline multiplayer modes, which renders the entirely multiplayer portion of the game thoroughly broken.

Turning to the single player is rather disappointing too, with there being five levels to play on, albeit with each of these levels having a free play and a quest mode. This is likely enough to keep you occupied for a couple of hours if you have never player any Mr Driller games before. If you have played previous games in the series, you will find nothing new here, and as a result will most likely lose interest very quickly.

As for the audio, it made me want to jump out my window. The various music tracks in the game are some of the most annoying tracks I have ever heard in my life, with the main menu music being the worst offender. I guess the music could possibly be appreciated by certain people (maybe a five year old child for example), but for most gamers, the mute button will come into play very quickly. Also, don’t worry about thinking that by muting the game you will miss out on the sound effects, as these are equally as poor.

Graphically the game doesn’t look to bad in the various game menus, but once you get into the game itself things aren’t so pretty. It’s obvious that the look the developers went for is the ‘less is more’ approach, and this does pay off in parts. The game interface on either side of the actual playable game window look nice and sharp, with interesting anime styled graphics. In the main game screen the actual blocks you’re drilling through look reasonable, but I would have liked a bit more variety in the different blocks. As for the character models, I was not impressed. With most of the game looking pretty crisp in HD, it is a huge disappointment to see a horribly pixelated character model which really stands out as the low point of the graphics. Not good when you spend most of the time in-game looking at your character. There are a few different characters to choose from, but each look equally as poor.

With so many great puzzle games available on Xbox LIVE Arcade at the moment it is simply impossible for me to recommend this game to anyone other than die hard Mr Driller fans, and even then it’s hardly worth it.

Thomas Hostler

Thomas was once a nice casual gamer, but within the last few years he has been slowly transforming into somewhat of a gaming fanatic, playing games in his spare time, and testing games all day at work! Whilst he enjoys just about any game, he loves getting his groove on with some online gaming, blasting away his fellow gamers with huge satisfaction. His gamer alias of Kirbish is an ode to Nintendo's pink puffball Kirby, although he has no idea why he likes him so much! Aside from gaming Thomas is a pretty big fan of WWE, and so if you come across him online, be prepared for him to lay the smack down!

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