I think I (briefly) played Drill Dozer around 2009 or so, and I didn't really remember much about it. In fact, in my mind I thought it was developed by Treasure. Mostly because I remembered it being (A) a very graphically impressive game, and (B) a game structured around a gameplay gimmick that I wasn't overly fond of. That tends to sum up most Treasure games for me. And replaying Drill Dozer now, it seems to also sum that one up even though it was actually developed by Game Freak AKA The Pokemon People.
Over the years I've heard Drill Dozer mentioned numerous times on various hidden gems type lists. And most recently, I read a glowing review of it from an old Nintendo Power magazine, which I collect and tend to go through and play some of the highest rated games for the heck of it. Amazingly, Drill Dozer is on the Wii U Virtual Console, so I figured hey, why not?
It is a good looking game, by the way. While the GBA is often thought of as a portable SNES, I don't know - this looks way too good to be a SNES game. It's super impressive. And it's cute, like most Game Freak games would be.
That gimmick, though. Ugh. So you ride around in this tiny little mech thing with a drill on it. And you can - you guessed it - drill stuff. The R button drills forward, and the L button drills back. So yeah. You're basically playing the game as an electric screwdriver.
At first this seems interesting. Y'know, kind of solving logic puzzles with this device. But soon enough it became a total drag for me. How exciting is it to stand there and turn a crank to open a door? How exciting is it to then go through that door and turn another crank to shut that door? Wow.
Not to mention you start each level powered down. So you run around these maze-like levels, looking for doors and stuff to find a couple of parts to power your drill up and get to the end.
I finally gave up at the second boss battle when I realized that this truly would be the full game. Attacking bosses are all just variations on drilling either forward or back. I guess there's strategy to it, but it's not exactly thrilling for me. Oh well.