i’ve gotten a bit behind on posting comments on a couple of the games i’ve finished. one is drill dozer, one of the last games for the GBA, brought to you by the good folk at game freak who were also the masterminds behind all those crazy pokemon games. i’d gotten interested in the game even before its main character made an appearance in brawl as an assist trophy from hearing good things in various places about it being a somewhat new spin on the platformer genre. this post at pressthebuttons.com has a good overview of what the game’s about and is a good example of what seems to be the general opinion, namely that the game’s novel game mechanics and lively characters and graphics keep the game entertaining.
as for my take, i def. enjoyed the game (and the built-in rumble pack!), but all together it’s kind of a strange little package. to explain: first off, the main game isn’t too long or very difficult. and although i started to get a bit weary of the incessant drilling the game element that really kept me engaged was the number of boss and sub-boss battles, a noteworthy amount and for the most part all nicely designed. but, as with luigi’s mansion and his trusty vacuum cleaner, by the end of drill dozer’s main game i felt like the whole drill mechanic had been completely exhausted, and i was ready for the game to be over. (of course i’d be fascinated to see what a sequel of either game would look like, although i don’t suppose either is a very likely possibility.)
but then, post win, the game really started to shine, in a significant way that most reviews (e.g. ign’s) don’t even hint at. i didn’t delve too deeply due to the drilling fatigue i had developed, but each level of the main game has hidden treasures that you can only look for after you beat the game, and you’ll prob. have to visit each one multiple times to find all of them as some are hidden rather deviously. even better are the extra levels you can acquire that take the game to a whole new level, with some sections that are, if you’ll pardon the expression, balls-to-the-wall hard. we’re talking old-school-NES-style hard. in the average platformer a “hard” area may require you to master a complicated series of 5 or 6 button presses, but in some of these extra maps you’ll have to perfectly time some 15 moves with only a bottomless pit below you to break your fall. in what i’ve played through so far the extra maps also require much more thought, and the process of studying your arsenal and exploring your options approaches almost metroid-like levels. if the whole game had been like this second half is turning out to be this would have easily been a game for the ages. as it is, my final verdict will have to wait until i finish playing through all the extra maps and finding all the treasures. but i’m going to have to shelve the game for now b/c, dammit, there’s only so much drilling a man can take!
one link is all you’ll need!
– great walkthrough at IGN