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North American PlayStation cover art
|Arcade system||Mr. Driller: Namco System 12; Mr. Driller 2, Mr. Driller G: Namco System 10|
Mr. Driller (ミスタードリラー Misuta Dorira?) is a series of video games developed by Namco. Mr. Driller puts the player in the role of a driller moving down through screens of blocks, having to keep his air supply from running out while avoiding being squashed by falling blocks. Games in this series have been released for PlayStation, Dreamcast, WonderSwan, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo GameCube, DS, WiiWare, Xbox Live, Windows, and iOS in addition to the arcade versions. The main character of these games is Susumu Hori, the son of Taizou Hori, who was the star of the original Dig Dug game.
The project that would become Mr. Driller was originally intended to be a third game in the Dig Dug series, under the working title of Dig Dug 3. Hexagonal blocks were briefly considered, but this idea was abandoned when chain construction proved to be too complicated. Dig Dug 3 was initially developed unofficially by a few Namco staff; however, work on the game was suspended while R4: Ridge Racer Type 4 was being completed. However, Namco executives were impressed with the game and decided to support it as an official project.
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 reasons unknown 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, make blocks disappear much faster, 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 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 whip-like 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.
The Mr. Driller series
- Mr. Driller (Arcade, 1999); ported to: Microsoft Windows, Game Boy Color, Dreamcast, PlayStation, WonderSwan Color, Mobile phones, PlayStation Store, and iOS
- Mr. Driller 2 (Arcade, 2000); ported to: Microsoft Windows, Game Boy Advance, Wii U Virtual Console (GBA version)
- Mr. Driller G (Great) (Arcade, 2001); ported to: PlayStation, PlayStation Store
- Mr. Driller A (Ace): Fushigi na Pacteria (Game Boy Advance, 2002); ported to: Wii U Virtual Console
- Mr. Driller: Drill Land (Nintendo GameCube, 2002)
- Mr. Driller: Driller Puzzle (Mobile phones, 2003)
- Mr. Driller Drill Spirits (Nintendo DS, 2004)
- Mr. Driller Aqua (Mobile phones, Android, 2006, 2011 for Android version)
- Mr. Driller: Driller Puzzle S (Mobile phones, 2006)
- Mr. Driller Online (Xbox Live Arcade, 2008)
- Mr. Driller W (World) (WiiWare, 2009)
- Mr. Driller: Drill Till You Drop (DSiWare, 2009)
- Mr. Driller (iOS, 2009)
- Mr. Driller VS (Mobile phones, 2010)
- Mr. Driller for Kakao (iOS, Android, 2015)