February 6, 2006Written by:
With the shift from Nintendo from the GBA to the DS, it is nice to see a decent GBA game being published for the system. Unfortunately, there have not been too many games being produced for the handheld, but this one definitely stands above the rest of the unnoticed games for the dwindling system.
Drill Dozer, with nice use of alliteration, is a game in which you play as a girl who controls this drilling machine. The gameplay mechanics are nice and varied, with plentiful moves and skills to learn along the way. The story is a little bit...lacking I suppose; although, you do get a nifty little comic book thing with the game, so that's cool. So yeah, the story...something to do with some gang of misfits stealing your red diamond, and your "quest" to get it back, but on the way you find more, different colored diamonds, which all possess eerie power, and it turns out the baddies are trying to take over the world and so forth and so on; pretty basic stuff.
Here is a screen of all of your equipment and what not. When I first saw this pic, I thought the game would be customizable when you choose what you want for each level, but it's not like that at all; just to let you know.
The first thing you will most likely notice when you take the game out of the box is the enlarged cartridge. When you stick this sucker into your GBA or other GBA-equipped playing handheld device that plays GBA games, you will see that it sticks out of the back; about a centimeter, which can make the SP a bit more difficult to hold. The cartridge is enlarged due to the rumble pak that is installed in it. It is a pretty nice feature, which is activated when you drill, or when things explode, etc. Overall, the rumble feature is nice, although, like most rumblings in games, you tend not to notice it after awhile. And most likely, the rumble feature will wear down on the battery life, so you can choose to turn it off.
Each "world" is divided into a few areas or levels. You can save at any point in time if you wish, which is actually a good thing since these levels are actually quite large. You start out each level the same; in your Drill Dozer machine with one gear. There will be two other gears "hidden" throughout the level, which is vital in order to proceed in each level, since there will be some self-restoring security gate blocking your way that cannot be destroyed unless you have the specified gear.
The map screen. If a dot is red, then there is an area you haven't played yet.
Each gear, from 1-3, increases the damage done to enemies and boxes, making them easier to destroy as you shift up. Also, as pertaining to the aforementioned security gates, with each addition gear you get, you can continuously drill for longer periods of time. With the third gear, you can drill for as long as you desire, however, you cannot be drilling and then jump without stopping, nor can you change directions of the drill without first stopping. Another thing to keep in mind is that there are certain boxes that you cannot destroy, at first that is. You start out with a regular drill bit, but as you progress through the game, you can purchase other, stronger drill bits that will allow you to get to different areas that are not vital to your success or progression. This means that you will be spending some time replaying levels to collect all the treasures and more chips and so what not.
There are 31 of these treasures all together, most of which cannot be gotten until you upgrade your drill bit. There is probably one or so scattered throughout each level, and once you beat the game for the first time, it will tell you how many are in each level and how many of those you have already found. What will happen when you collect them all? Well, I'm not going to tell you...
There are two ways to drill; clockwise and counter-clockwise; each determined by a click one of the shoulder buttons, a.k.a. L and R. L moves the drill counter-clockwise, while R moves it clockwise. This is important to know while going through certain puzzles or getting through certain obstacles, as well as fighting many bosses. Using both directions also comes into play with doing certain maneuvers, such as jumping from box to box, as well as many other actions that you need to be well versed in. You can do this by either reading up in the help dictionary of terms, or by going to the practice/playground/training level to actual test how things work and master the moves.
These ducts are both blue and red. Red for clockwise, and blue for counter. It becomes tricky when time is involved and it switches from duct to duct...trixy stuff. The color coordinating is reappearing in other elements as well.
Aside from the drilling, you can also jump of course, and dash, as well as look up and down, which is so very exciting. So basically, the drill is the essence of the game. No fireballs or guns or weapons or anything of that nature. Damaging enemies is solely based on using the drill, although there tend to be some creative ways to destroy enemies and especially bosses; although, it would have been nice to be able to damage enemies using the dash move. Also, not all enemies die instantly from the touch of the drill. There is a health meter above every enemy to show you exactly how much health they have left. This is also true of boxes and other destroyable elements.
To add a little variety to the mix, there is also a flying and water level, so to speak. Each one of these levels has you battle these two women, who, at the end, drop an attachment that either allows you to swim in water, or fly in the air. Unfortunately, these attachments are only used in the one level each, which is a shame, for you would think they could carry over to other levels so that said levels would be more diverse and possibly offer multiple ways for completion, but no. On the other hand, this may be a good thing for the controls, especially for the water portion, are not that good making it very difficult to control where you go. But, it is nice that it breaks up the monotonous gameplay by adding these elements.
Flying; so exciting. You can fly straight up or hover, by holding by L and R. When hovering, you can move side to side, crucial to dodging spikes and for batteling the boss.
Like I kind of touched on earlier, the enemies are kind of cool, with many variations here and there. The bosses also keep the game fresh, although, when looked at it at what it is, you are doing the same thing every time. Finding the weak point, and drilling into it multiple times until the boss is destroyed, but I guess that is really the same with any game if looked at like that, so never mind. But yeah, the bosses do throw some variety at you, so the game is not all that repetitive.
A boss...ewwwww, awwwwww. Prettyful. That red bar on the bottom is the boss's health.
The game is decently long, although the final level and boss are much to easy, especially if you purchase the energy tanks from the store. If you buy three or more of them, then you really do not have to worry about getting hurt or dying. It makes the game too simple. Anyways, once you beat certain levels, you unlock these maps that you can also buy from the store that open further levels in each area, which unveils much, much more to do. Also, once you beat the game, you unlock the strongest drill bit, allowing you to again play through each level to find all the treasures and secrets, so the replay value is very high.
So yeah, Drill Dozer. I've come to the conclusion that I'm not that good at making conclusions. So, um, yeah, Drill Dozer. Good game, decent enough graphics, nice rumble feature, cool gameplay mechanics and unique ideas and everything. The game is good and has many levels and enemies and bosses and things to collect and all kinds of great stuff. The fact that it is one of the few good GBA's games out at the moment, I would suggest getting it. It is a pretty solid game.8.5/
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