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Mr Driller Online

Spelunker-dunk.

As well as Standard Driller, in which you hop from country to country digging to ever-increasing depths, there's also Quest Driller, which replaces the Pressure Driller mode from the DS. Gameplay is much the same, except now you must also drill within certain restrictions. A time limit is the most obvious, but completing a section with limited air tanks is another, as is a specified number of blocks destroyed. It's not much of a quest, to be honest, and while the requirements do shake up the way you play, it feels a bit thin as a standalone game mode.

Online multiplayer is the big addition, with two ways of playing with pals. Solo Battle finds you digging down through the same level against up to three other players. It's no different to the Standard Driller game, except you can see the ghosts of where the others are up to, adding an extra reason to keep moving.

Tag Battle is rather more interesting, pairing you up into teams of two. This mode introduces dual power-ups, that require both players to find one half of a fragmented stone tablet. And if that doesn't inspire teamwork, there's also a rescue option. Should your partner start running out of air, you can hit Y to instantly send half of your remaining supply to their tank. From those simple rules, there are oodles of ways to strategise with your friend, from one player drilling and the other collecting, to sticking together and working in tandem for speedy progress.

So, conceptually at least, the multiplayer modes are basic but overwhelmingly effective. It's incredibly easy to grasp what needs to be done, and with only the directions and face buttons to worry about, it remains firmly in the casual realm without sacrificing gameplay depth.

And... The menu screen. Extra special thanks to Namco for this fine selection of screenshots.

Sadly, it's also the sort of game that can be absolutely ruined by a laggy connection, and many of the games I played were hampered by this to some extent. Most of the time it's just an occasional stickiness, the odd movement glitch, and can be pretty much eradicated when playing against regular friends provided their connection is stable.

Playing against strangers can be pot luck though, and as there are several Achievements for winning 10 consecutive matches, having to keep abandoning play because of shoddy networking is an unfortunate upset. It certainly makes the addition of "online" to the title a rather unfortunate decision.

But, quibbles aside, the core Mr Driller experience on the 360 is every bit as wonderful as it was on the DS, and on all the formats before it. The single-player modes may not look all that generous but it'll take many hours to work through the five Standard stages and five Quests, even for an experienced player.

It's a shame that the additional modes and multiplayer aren't quite as innovative as they might have been, but that's a minor gripe in the grand scheme of things. Cheerful, perfectly pitched and instantly addictive, Mr Driller is the sort of thing that makes you want to grab those tiresome moaners and say "Look! This is casual gaming! It's what games are all about! And it's brilliant!"

8 / 10

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About the Author

Dan Whitehead avatar

Dan Whitehead

Contributor

Dan has been writing for Eurogamer since 2006 and specialises in RPGs, shooters and games for children. His bestest game ever is Julian Gollop's Chaos.

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