Drill, Jill baby, drill!
In 2004, the Nintendo DS launched in most territories. That gave the Game Boy Advance, Nintendo's previous handheld, a brief four years on the market to itself. That meant that many games released after the DS's launch were overlooked, especially Drill Dozer, a game released more than a year after the DS and one developed by Game Freak, the developer behind the Pokemon games. This also meant that many overlooked Drill Dozer when it launched on the Game Boy Advance. It's my duty, then, here today, to explain why it was such a shame that Drill Dozer slipped through the cracks into obscurity on the GBA and in gaming in general.
Drill Dozer stars Jill, who has been made the temporary boss of a gang of bandits known as the Red Dozers after her father, Doug, was incapacitated by the rival Skullkers gang. The gang also stole a Red Diamond, a gift that was given to Jill by her dead mother. It's up to Jill and the Red Dozers to get the diamond back, and along the way they meet an eccentric cast of characters, multiple other diamonds, and multiple areas of drilling fun.
|It'll take more than a robot with a scorpion tail to stop Jill.|
|Jill's Drill Dozer isn't the best jumper,|
but it gets the job done.
|Jill can shift gears up to three times once both|
red gears in a level have been acquired.
Outside of typical levels on land, there are a duo of levels that have Jill taking to the sky and the sunken depths. Here, the principles of drilling are a bit of different. In water, using the drill moves Jill forward through the water in the direction she is facing. What's more difficult is Drill Dozer's way of handling flight. Drilling raises Jill upwards, and it's important to shift gears when possible to keep rising up. Additionally, you can hold the L and R buttons together to remain stationary and hover horizontally. The controls are a bit tricky to get a handle on, and the boss of the flight level demands proficient precision and handling of the flight controls, making for a very frustrating first few goes at the boss.
|On some occasions. Jill will have to defeat all|
enemies in order to move on.
|This boss left itself open to an attack in its torso.|
Aside from being able to save, between levels you can check Jill's Drill Dozer's equipment, buy upgrades at the shop, and check out treasures collected. The shop upgrades consist of more health energy for Jill's machine, stronger drills to bore through things like titanium boxes, and maps that unlock secret levels within the game. These levels are the most challenging of Drill Dozer, requiring you to have keen knowledge and ability with how to use Jill's drill to its greatest potential. There are a profusion of challenging platforming sections that will test even the greatest Drill Dozer expert.
In each level there are treasure chests to be found. Most of these cannot be reached before the game is completed, as the drill required to reach the areas they are located in do not unlock until after Drill Dozer is initially beaten. There are over thirty treasures to collect, and through nabbing them, your bandit ranking increases. Starting off as a lowly thief, you can reach milestones like safecracker and more with the more treasure you grab your mitts on.
|Two tanks? Talk about an unfair fight!|
The presentation of Drill Dozer is quite pleasant. This late release GBA game features beautiful 2D backgrounds and character sprites. The backgrounds are dripping with detail, while the sprites are articulated well. The music is capable enough, but for the most part, there's only about one or two songs that have stuck with me after playing.
Overall, Drill Dozer is an innovative platformer that had the misfortune of releasing after the Nintendo DS launch, making it overlooked by many who had moved on to Nintendo's dual screened system. That's quite the shame, as Drill Dozer is more than competent as a platformer and deserves attention. The game is a taste of Game Freak when they're not busy building Pokemon games, and it's a very delicious taste, for sure.
[SPC Says: B]