Mr. Driller

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Mr. Driller
Mr. Driller series logo.svg
Publisher(s)Bandai Namco Entertainment
Creator(s)Yasuhito Nagaoka
Hideo Yoshizawa
Platform(s)Arcade, PlayStation, Dreamcast, WonderSwan Color, Game Boy Color, Windows, Game Boy Advance, Mobile phone, GameCube, Nintendo DS, Xbox 360, DSiWare, Wii, iOS, Nintendo Switch
First releaseMr. Driller
November 1999
Latest releaseMr. Driller Drill Land
June 25, 2020

Mr. Driller[a] is a puzzle video game franchise developed and published by Namco, now owned by their successor company Bandai Namco Entertainment. The series began in arcades in 1999 with Mr. Driller, running on the Namco System 12 arcade hardware, and would see several ports and sequels for arcades and home video game systems, the latest being the 2015 game Mr. Driller for Kakeo, released exclusively for mobile phones in South Korea. Early games in the series were developed by Project Driller, an internal development team at Namco in the 2000s.

The series stars Susumu Hori, the son of Dig Dug protagonist Taizo Hori and Baraduke protagonist Masuyo "Kissy" Tobi. Gameplay revolves around the player destroying colorful blocks in an attempt to reach the bottom of each stage. Blocks will disappear when four of a color are connected, which can cause large chain reactions. The player has an oxygen meter that will constantly drain as the game progresses - collecting air capsules will replenish a fraction of the meter. Brown-colored "X Blocks" take five hits to destroy, which will deplete a small portion of the player's oxygen meter.

The original Mr. Driller was originally intended as a third entry in Namco's own Dig Dug series, aptly titled Dig Dug 3. Technical restrains caused the project to be shelved, however Namco executives expressed interest in the project, causing the game to be revived as an official project. The series has received mostly mixed reviews from critics, who praised its addictive gameplay and characters, although some would criticize some entries for a poor presentation or lack of variety compared to other games.



Release timeline
1999Mr. Driller
2000Mr. Driller 2
2001Mr. Driller G
2002Mr. Driller A
Mr. Driller Drill Land
2004Mr. Driller Drill Spirits
2006Mr. Driller Aqua
2008Mr. Driller Online
2009Mr. Driller W
Mr. Driller Drill Till You Drop
Mr. Driller (iOS)
2015Mr. Driller for Kakao
  • Mr. Driller is the first entry in the series, originally released for arcades in 1999. Ports for the Game Boy Color, WonderSwan Color, PlayStation and Dreamcast were released a year later in 2000. It established the series' core gameplay mechanics and introduced series protagonist Susumu Hori, who would appear in all games to follow. Home versions of the game were met with mixed to positive reviews, many praising its gameplay and characters while criticizing its lack of multiplayer and extra content. The PlayStation port of the game was released digitally onto the PlayStation Store on February 18, 2014,[1] which was delisted from the North American storefront in April 2019.[2] The PS version was also included on the North American version of the PlayStation Classic dedicated console.[3]
  • Mr. Driller 2 is a direct sequel to the original, released for Japanese arcades in 2000 and later for the Game Boy Advance internationally in 2004. A Microsoft Windows port was released exclusively in Japan that same year. The game introduces Puchi, Susumu's brown-spotted dog, and Anna Hottenmeyer, a friend and rival of Susumu, both of which would become staple for the series. New to this game are "Crystal Blocks", star-marked blocks that will disappear shortly after a brief period of time, and a split-screen multiplayer mode. The Game Boy Advance version was released for the Wii U Virtual Console in 2014.
  • Mr. Driller G (Mr. Driller Great) was released for arcades and the PlayStation exclusively for Japan in 2001. The third installment introduced many recurring characters, including Susumu's older brother Ataru Hori, Dig Dug protagonist and father Taizo Hori, and the robotic drill Holinger-Z. G features a story mode, revolving around Susumu and company in their efforts to prevent antagonist Dr. Manhole from destroying the world with large, mechanical drills. A "Scenerio" mode is also included that adds power-up items, such as a speed boost and the ability to climb two blocks higher. The PlayStation version was digitally re-released for the PlayStation Store on June 26, 2013 in Japan, under the PSone Classics brand.
  • Mr. Driller A (Mr. Driller Ace) was released for the Game Boy Advance in 2002, exclusive to Japan.
  • Mr. Driller Drill Spirits was released for the Nintendo DS in 2004, becoming a launch title for the system in North America, Europe and Japan.

Common elements[edit]


In Mr. Driller, after a character is selected and a country is selected, the player then drills a seemingly endless onslaught of colored blocks, ending with that country's given mileage (given in meters). The levels are randomly generated, and the blocks can merge with other similarly colored blocks, therefore disppearing after 4 or more blocks merge. There are 4 main colors of blocks: red, blue, green, and yellow. There are also 3 special kinds of blocks: white blocks, which are pale blocks that don't merge with other similarly colored ones; crystal blocks, blocks that last for around a few seconds before disappearing; and X-blocks, brown crate-like boxes that take 5 drill hits to disintegrate, and also take off 20% of the player's air supply. The player has an air supply that acts as his vitality gauge, and when it is under 30%, the player's complexion will turn blue and a bubble with an air capsule will appear over his head. To keep the air from running out, the player can collect air capsules that replenish the driller's health by 20%. A life is lost when the player's air runs out, or if he/she is squished by falling blocks. The gameplay has been described as "Dig Dug meets Tetris."


  • Susumu Hori - the series's main protagonist and the highest-ranked Driller in the world, and the son of legendary Driller, Taizo Hori (of Dig Dug fame). He is a little crazy, but is still a good-natured, courageous young boy with a strong sense of justice. He is Japanese, has brown hair and eyes, and wears a pink and light blue jumpsuit and helmet. His performance in the game is all-around, with normal walking speed and a normal air-consumption rate. He is usually recommended for intermediate players. Susumu is voiced by Mitsuko Horie.
  • Puchi - a genius talking wonder dog and companion to Susumu. He has been Susumu's closest confidant ever since Susumu found him abandoned as a little puppy and nursed him back to health. He is a white dog with brown spots. He was first playable in Mr. Driller G. In the game, Puchi moves slower than Susumu, but his air consumption is slower as well. He also has the ability to jump up two blocks high. In the Scenario Driller mode of Mr. Driller G, he follows Susumu in one of the stages and barks when he is near a hidden Dristone. He is usually recommended for beginning players. Puchi is voiced by Mitsuko Horie.
  • Toby Masuyo- Susumu's mother and star of Baraduke, an ex-soldier of the United Galactic Space Force (UGSF) and took part in the battle of Alien Sector in 1985. Masuyo is the mother of Susumu and Ataru. She used to be married to Taizo Hori, but for unknown reasons, they are separated. She is Japanese and has short light brown hair with dark brown eyes. She wears a yellow space bio-suit with orange gloves, blue/green boots and white belts going around her body that connect to a jet pack. She is a support character and assists her son in the Mr. Dig games.
  • Taizo Hori - Susumu's father and star of Dig Dug, a legendary Driller and chairman of the Driller Council. He is the hero of the 1982 Dig Dug Incident and is a globetrotting adventurer. He is Japanese, has brown eyes and a goatee, wears a white suit with red chevrons and a blue belt, red boots, blue gloves, and a white-and-blue helmet. He was first playable in Mr. Driller G. In the game his walking speed is slow and his air consumption rate is fast. However, he can make blocks disappear much faster, making his descent speed quicker as well. He is usually recommended for expert players.
  • Anna Hottenmeyer - Susumu's friend and fierce rival and the second-highest-ranked Driller in the world. She is German, and has blue eyes, blonde hair, and wears a white jumpsuit with a pink star on the front, pink sleeves, and blue goggles. She was first playable in Mr. Driller 2. In the game, her performance is only slightly different from Susumu, with a slightly faster walking speed and a slightly faster air consumption rate. She is usually recommended for expert players. Anna is slightly older than Susumu by two months. Anna is voiced by Mitsuko Horie.
  • Ataru Hori - Susumu's older brother. He works as an unlicensed Driller ever since he left home after an argument with his father, Taizo, and has been trying to find his purpose in life ever since. He is Japanese, has brown eyes, has gray hair, and wears a gray suit with a white star on the front, a gray helmet, and a red scarf. Normally has a black rabbit named Usagi (or Rabbit, in English-speaking countries) that follows him on his travels. He was first playable in Mr. Driller G. In the game, he is able to move very fast, but has a fast air consumption rate. He is usually recommended for expert players.
  • Holinger-Z - A robot created by Dr. Z to take on jobs that are too dangerous for humans, and serves as Anna's butler-robot. He is a gray robot who can morph into the form of a drill. He was first playable in Mr. Driller G. In the game, Holinger-Z moves fairly slow and has a slow air consumption rate. His special feature is that he can withstand a fallen block once before dying; when a rock falls on him, his head will act as a "barrier" and the rest of the body continues to drill. He is usually recommended for beginning players. Holinger-Z's name is based on Mazinger Z.
  • Usagi - Also known as Rabbit in English-speaking countries. The companion of Ataru Hori. He came from outer space and crashed to earth. Ataru saved him from the wreckage, and has since befriended him. He has normally been an unlockable character in the game since the introduction of the six standard playable characters in Mr. Driller G. In the game, he is able to move very fast, but has a fast air consumption rate. He also can jump up two blocks akin to Puchi, make blocks disappear much faster akin to Taizo, and destroy three blocks instead of one. Rather than talking, he makes unusual sounds. In a secret Scenario Driller stage in Mr. Driller G, he follows Ataru and notifies when he is near a hidden Dristone. It is debated whether his skills make gameplay easier or harder, but the former is more likely because of his numerous skills.
  • Dr. Z - a brilliant scientist who sends the Driller team out on various missions around the world. He has gray hair, a round cucumber-shaped nose, and wears a lab coat and tie. He bears a slight resemblance to Dr. Ochanomizu from Astro Boy.
  • Dr. Manhole - a drill scientist who has been mocked by fellow scientists, and since then has made attempts to destroy the world with giant drills. He sometimes works with the Ankoku Drillers. He was the main antagonist in the Scenario Driller mode of Mr. Driller G and Mr. Driller Drill Land (disguised as the founder of the amusement park), and appears in the Pressure Driller mode of Mr. Driller Drill Spirits, possibly the one who made the giant drill that closes in on the player.
  • Ankoku Drillers - Sometimes called Team Ankoku, these are three drillers who work with Dr. Manhole to stop Susumu and his friends. The leader is Keel Sark, who is fast and is said to have ninja skills. The other members are Eguri Hatakeyama, a mean-tempered girl who uses a whiplike drill and has a crush on Ataru Hori, and Kowasu, an android stolen from the Driller laboratories who holds respect towards Taizo Hori, and uses a three-direction drill. They have so far only appeared in Mr. Driller G for the PlayStation and Mr. Driller Drill Land for the Nintendo GameCube; they are secretly playable in the former's Versus mode after certain conditions are met.
  • Undergrounders - strange blue creatures that inhabit the underground world. They are the ones usually responsible for the numerous blocks that often invade the Earth. They are said to be very intelligent but a little careless. They are ruled over by a king. In the game, they occasionally appear behind drilled blocks and offer a small additional bonus. They also appear when a certain score amount is reached and another block is drilled; the undergrounder holds up a sign that says "1-Up," giving the player another life. There are apparently also undergrounders in space, except they have been colored as either purple or yellow, depending on the game.


In 1998, two employees within NamcoKlonoa creator Hideo Yoshizawa and R4: Ridge Racer Type 4 director Yasuhito Nagaoka—began development of a third mainline installment in the company's Dig Dug series, aptly titled Dig Dug 3. Where as the original Dig Dug and its sequel Dig Dug II were fast-paced action games about defeating enemies, Dig Dug 3 was instead a puzzle game where players destroyed groups of hexagonal blocks to make it to the bottom of a level. Nagaoka thought the hexagonal block concept was too confusing for players to understand, instead using colorful, visually-distinctive blocks.[4] The project was put on hold as Nagaoka and Yoshizawa went to finish development of Ridge Racer Type 4, before resuming progress in early 1999 and becoming the first Mr. Driller.[4]


Aggregate review scores
Game GameRankings Metacritic
Mr. Driller (PlayStation) 75%[5]
Mr. Driller (Dreamcast) 82%[6]
Mr. Driller (Game Boy Color) 65%[7]
Mr. Driller 2 65%[8] 62/100[9]
Mr. Driller Drill Land 89%[10]
Mr. Driller A 80%[11]
Mr. Driller Drill Spirits 71%[12] 70/100[13]
Mr. Driller Online 50%[14] 45/100[15]
Mr. Driller W 75%[16] 71/100[17]
Mr. Driller Drill Till You Drop 77%[18] 73/100[19]


  1. ^ Japanese: ミスタードリラー Hepburn: Misuta Dorira


  1. ^ Clements, Ryan (18 February 2014). "The Drop: New PlayStation Releases for February 18th, 2014". PlayStation.Blog. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  2. ^ Glagowski, Peter (4 April 2019). "PS1 classic Mr. Driller gets delisted from PSN store". Destructoid. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  3. ^ McWhertor, Michael (29 October 2018). "Sony reveals PlayStation Classic game lineup". Polygon. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  4. ^ a b Parish, Jeremy (July 22, 2020). "Mr. Driller: DrillLand & The History of Mr. Driller - Game Boy Works Gaiden #05". YouTube. Google. Archived from the original on July 26, 2020. Retrieved August 15, 2020.
  5. ^ "Mr. Driller for PlayStation". GameRankings. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
  6. ^ "Mr. Driller for Dreamcast". GameRankings. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  7. ^ "Mr. Driller for Game Boy Color". GameRankings. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  8. ^ "Mr. Driller 2 for Game Boy Advance". GameRankings. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  9. ^ "Mr. Driller 2 for Game Boy Advance Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  10. ^ "Mr. Driller: Drill Land for GameCube". GameRankings. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  11. ^ "Mr. Driller Ace for Game Boy Advance". GameRankings. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  12. ^ "Mr. Driller: Drill Spirits". GameRankings. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  13. ^ "Mr. Driller: Drill Spirits for Nintendo DS Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  14. ^ "Mr. Driller Online for Xbox 360". GameRankings. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  15. ^ "Mr. Driller Online for Xbox 360 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  16. ^ "Mr. Driller W for Wii". GameRankings. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  17. ^ "Mr. Driller W for Wii Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  18. ^ "Mr. Driller: Drill till you Drop for DS". GameRankings. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  19. ^ "Mr. Driller: Drill till you Drop for DS Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 26 July 2019.

External links[edit]