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Video Game / Mr. Driller

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"Cash you say? Does that taste good? I want some too!"
Taizo Hori, Mr. Driller: Drill Spirits

Mr. Driller is a spin-off series to Namco's Dig Dug. First released in arcades in 1999 and on the PlayStation and Dreamcast in 2000, the game stars young Susumu Hori (the son of Dig Dug's protagonist Taizo Hori and Baraduke heroine Toby "Kissy" Masuyo) in a race to drill through multiple colored blocks as far as he can without running out of air or getting crushed. Falling blocks of the same color will meld together, and disappear if the resulting combination is more than four blocks long. Air capsules appear every so often, and must be picked up to ensure survival. There are other hazards, such as the aforementioned falling blocks, and "X" blocks which, if drilled, cover you in poisonous gas that takes away from your Oxygen Meter.

The series combines elements of a fast-action arcade game and a puzzle game, due to the importance of watching how the blocks will fall as your character descends further into the earth.

Games in the series:

  • Mr. Driller: Arcade, ported to the PlayStation and other platforms
  • Mr. Driller 2: Arcade, also ported to PC and Game Boy Advance
  • Mr. Driller G ("Mr. Driller Great"): Arcade, also ported to the PlayStation in 2001 (Japan only)
  • Mr. Driller A ("Mr. Driller Ace: Wonderful Pacteria"): Released in 2002 for the Game Boy Advance (Japan only)
  • Mr. Driller: Drill Land: Released in 2002 for the Nintendo GameCube (Japan only). Had an HD remake released worldwide for the Nintendo Switch and PC on June 25, 2020.
  • Mr. Driller Drill Spirits: Released 2004 on the Nintendo DS, and first Mr. Driller game to be released overseas in 4 years.
  • Mr. Driller Online: Released in 2008 on X Box Live Arcade
  • Mr. Driller W: Released 2009 for WiiWare
  • Mr. Driller: Drill Till You Drop Released 2009 for DSiWare

Tropes used in Mr. Driller:

  • Achievements in Ignorance: In the first game, all those colored blocks you drill through were caused by The Undergrounders overproducing their Trademark Favorite Food. When the titular driller reaches them they are completely unaware of this. Despite the colored blocks causing disasters on the surface! This causes Mr. Driller to tell them off, and get them to stop production.
  • Action Girl: Anna Hottenmeyer is the series' signature female Driller, though her rival Eguri Hatakeyama in G and Drill Land also qualifies.
  • Aloof Big Brother: Ataru Hori, older brother to Susumu Hori, always tries to be the "cooler" one.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Anna Hottenmeyer is often mistaken to be a boy even in-universe.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Taizo Hori has tan skin.
  • Art Shift: Mr. Driller A and every game thereafter excluding Drill Till You Drop altered the general art style to de-chibi everyone by making them taller and with blockier limbs.
  • Badass Adorable:
    • Susumu Hori Because he's the only courageous enough to go and chase a massive destruction drill heading to the very earth's core.
    • Puchi is a small dog and yet can drill as well as the human cast.
  • Badass Family: Susumu's whole family, with three Drillers and a gun-wielding space explorer to name.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: Some levels take place in space, and the Drillers don't even need to change their usual costumes for this.
  • Brutal Bonus Level: The Special stages in Drill Land, which tend to be significantly tougher than even the Level 3 versions of the stages. For instance, World Drill Tour on Special difficulty is equivalent to the North Pole stage in Mr. Driller G.
  • Bullet Time: The Gravity effect from the ? blocks in Star Driller will temporarily slow down the motion of the blocks while still allowing the player to move at normal speed.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Dr. Manhole.
  • Cartoon Creature: The Undergrounders are little blue creatures that live in the ground.
  • Competitive Balance: Excluding Susumu, who has perfectly balanced stats across the board and no gimmicks, the Drillers all sport tradeoffs between their movement speed and air consumption rate- slower characters geared for beginners (Puchi, Holinger-Z, Kowars) come with special abilities and chew through air slower, while faster characters (Anna, Taizo, Ataru, and Keel) either run and/or drill faster- at the cost of high air consumption. Characters that have special abilities without suffering a speed drop (Eguri, Usagi) also have increased air consumption.
  • Continuity Nod: The first countries visited on each difficulty level in Drill Land's World Drill Tour are the same countries that the player can choose between in 2/G (India, USA, Egypt, North Pole). The difficulty of each level is equivalent to that of the respective stage in 2/G.
  • Critical Annoyance: When the player's Oxygen Meter drops below 30 percent. It often takes just long enough to get the next air capsule that the player's air is still below 30 percent, and the alarm still sounding. The siren intensifies when a driller is on their last legs of air.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Mostly seem in Mr. Driller G.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: Most of the franchise's theme songs are sung by Mitsuko Horie, who voices Susumu, Pochi, and Anna.
  • Do Well, But Not Perfect: It Drill Land's Star Driller, it can be beneficial to intentionally get sucked into the black holes or abducted by the UFOs (both of which warp the player back to the start of the current section) when going for a high score.
  • Endless Game: Mr. Driller G introduced an endless Space level that unlike the other levels, does not have a depth goal where it ends. The player tries to go as deep as possible before they run out of lives.
    • The Special levels of Drill Land are endless versions of the stages.
  • Falling Blocks: The underground is filled with these, which the Drillers must make their way through without getting flattened or suffocating. They were made by the Undergrounders, and the blocks are considered their Trademark Favorite Food, which they overproduced- causing mass cascades of them to erupt on the surface level, but they then started appearing without the Undergrounders' involvement in later games.
  • A Fête Worse than Death: Drill Land takes place in an amusement park built by Flüid, who is actually Dr. Manhole in disguise. This park ends up being a lure to trap the Drillers in an earthquake.
  • Indy Escape: The Drindy Adventure level in Drill Land, which is basically a parody of Indiana Jones' movies.
    • It is also possible to continue drilling downwards even as a falling block is bearing down right on top of you. In this case, the only thing that can save you is reaching the end of the stage or if the block combines with a same-colored block and stops falling.
  • Interface Screw: Star Driller will sometimes have an eclipse, which will temporarily darken the screen.
  • Jack of All Stats: Susumu. He is average in every stat and has no special ability.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Anna stared out a Susumu's rival in Mr. Driller 2, she later teams up with him in later games.
  • Kid Hero: Everyone of the main cast except Taizo.
  • Luck-Based Mission: The Star Driller stage in Drill Land, as well as the Moon and Outer Space stages in the JP/EU versions of Drill Spirits, which feature item blocks that when touched, can cause either positive or negative effects on the player.
  • Marathon Level: Drill Land's Hole of Druaga on the Special level. Despite being endless, it is possible to get a clear stamp, but it takes literal hours. The requirement is 3,000,000 points, which takes about 150 sections to get.
  • Mineral MacGuffin: The Dristones in A(ce)'s story mode, Drill Land's Hole of Druaga, and JP/EU Drill Spirits' Dristone Driller.
  • Minimalist Cast: The only characters featured in the first game are Susumu and the Undergrounders (the species as a whole and their king.) Later games then expanded the cast.
  • Missing Mom: After getting divorced from Taizo. Masuyo (the heroine from Baraduke) left home and since then she's rarely heard about. She makes a few cameos in the games though.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Puchi and Usagi, to Susumu and Ataru respectively.
  • Parental Neglect: Taizo Hori, you really have to wonder if he really cares about his children, of he rather be spending time with his precious camels.
  • Older Than They Look: Ataru is 17 years old? Seriously?
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Though, given the "hit" in question is from large rocks/chunks of earth falling on you, this is perhaps justified. A few characters, such as the mining robot Holinger-Z, can survive one hit like this before dying.
  • Oxygen Meter: Every Driller has one which drains as they dig deeper and deeper into the underground world. In Dristone Driller, the Oxygen meter doesn't drop at a steady rate, but instead drops by 1% for every time the player drills.
  • One of the Boys: Anna Hottenmeyer...hell, even her friends keep mistaking her for a boy.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: The Ankoku Drillers, one of them even being a Minion with an F in Evil.
  • The Rival: Anna, who's obsessed about being a better driller than Susumu. Though this particular behavior of hers may have diminished past her first appearance in 2.
  • Secret Character: In Drill Spirits, the entire cast minus Susumu must be unlocked through Mission Driller, which extends to Usagi/Rabbit in non-American versions if the Moon stage is completed as Ataru.
  • Schmuck Bait: Any time an air capsule is surrounded on all four sides by "X" blocks (which is a good half of them, eventually extending to every capsule halfway through a run). Newbies quickly learn that attempting to drill through them negates the capsule's benefit, requiring them to drill around the blocks to cause cascades and open it up another way.
  • Sibling Team: Susumu and Ataru Hori.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Holy Dream playing in the Night Horror House stage.
  • Shout-Out: Basically most of Drill Land's stages:
    • Star Driller is a shout out of the Star Trigon arcade game, a spinoff of the Mr. Driller series which includes Susumu as a playable character.
    • The Hole of Druaga being a tribute to The Tower of Druaga, complete with a cameo of Gilgamesh and Ki.
    • Drindy Adventure definitely being a shout out of Indiana Jones movies.
  • Super-Deformed: Some games (2, G, and Drill Till you Drop) use a noticeably more chibi-esque art style.
  • Talking Animal: Puchi can speak human language.
  • Terrible Trio: Dr. Manhole has his minions, a trio of villains named the Ankoku Drillers.
  • They Called Me Mad!: Dr. Manhole, he was accused of stealing Dr. Z's inventions. Which he didn't.
  • This Is a Drill: What the Drillers use to dig into the ground.
  • Title Drop: In the Japanese versions of the arcade games, an excellent performance earns the player the title of Mr. Driller. This was changed to Master Driller in the overseas releases.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Ataru, even if he's depicted as the Lone wolf character, there are few hints showing that he still misses his family.
  • Tunnel King: Susumu Hori, and the rest of the Drillers, tunnel into the ground.
  • Underground Level: All of the levels are underground.
  • Villainous Crush: One of the Ankoku Drillers, Eguri, has a big crush on Ataru, and she's not afraid to show it.
  • Winged Soul Flies Off at Death: When a playable character dies in the series. In Drill Spirits in a score counter after each session, the number of times your character died during a drill session is symbolized by an angel.