Electric heroin.

It's from Namco. You know, the guys who put so many subliminal references to Dig-Dug in Ridge Racer 4, because they have such an unnatural infatuation with this original hit arcade game of theirs?

Well, they made a sequel. To Dig-Dug.

Gameplay is similar, though it's more of a puzzle game than an action game. There are colored blocks.

A lot of colored blocks.

You have to tunnel through them.

When blocks lose their support, they fall. When blocks of the same color come together, they become one bigger block. When a block becomes at least 4 units large or if a block which is already at least 4 units large falls down and hits something, it disappears.

There is no air underground. You must find air capsules to keep breathing. There are X blocks. They take 5 times as long to drill through, and take 20% of your air supply when you've done so. The air capsules are usually buried under piles of X blocks which must be strategically eliminated by creating groups of 4, or moved out of the way so you can climb up and grab the precious air. Only very quickly, because your air supply doesn't last very long, and very carefully, because getting squished sucks. And you only have three lives, no more, no less, no continues, no excuses - classic gameplay style.

It is frantic. It is addictive. It is bliss.

The music is incredible. So incredible that I have spent a more than unhealthy amount of time converting it to MP3 format and putting it onto a CD. In fact, putting it on an MP3+audio CD was the first thing I did with my recently-acquired CD-R drive. The music doesn't sound at all like a videogame's music. And yet it fits PERFECTLY. And it's incredible on its own. Everywhere from Necros-style upbeatness to heavy techno to some of the most beautiful violin and cello passages I've ever heard period (and you can barely tell they're wavetable, and even then only if you pay REALLY close attention - they did some incredible sampling work)... there are a bunch of variations of four major themes, and one of the "hidden" songs is even the main theme in ragtime style even. I always have the music stuck in my head, and I don't mind it at all, and am not getting tired of it in the slightest. It's that good.

You know how with a really good game, after you play it for 12 hours or so, you start to see it when you close your eyes or try to sleep? Well, with Mr. Driller, I got that after only half an hour of playing it. And I didn't need to close my eyes. The images are burned into my brain. Every time I see a screenshot of it, I can only think of where to drill, and how to time it. My cursor seems to become the character, the words above it the blocks ready to fall down and squish him. I can even see them quiver, vibrating in the corner of my eye, ready to fall...

The game becomes you. You become the game.

Available for Dreamcast and Playstation, coming soon for Gameboy Color. Gets top reviews from all the gaming sites. Is cheap. Probably makes arcades a lot of money in Japan, where it's currently one of the most popular arcade games period. I've already played the Dreamcast version more than enough times to offset the price in the arcade by the US$25 purchase price. My Dreamcast hasn't been neglected, but all my other video games have. They simply aren't up to snuff anymore.

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