By Anne Lee
Mr. Driller A, or Mr. Driller Ace: Wonderful Pacteria, never made it outside of Japan, and it's a real shame, as it's my favorite title in the series (but I don't claim to be much of an authority). Though the manual isn't particularly outstanding, it does feature the series' iconic art style in the form of some character illustrations and screenshots.
This manual is surprisingly large for a puzzler, but most of the pages really aren't all that exciting. The first, and arguably my favorite, features a silly illustration of Susumu and his sidekick dog Puchi looking bewildered at a "Pacteria," the weird black blob thing that makes an appearance in the game's subtitle. Gotta love the professor urging Susumu to uncover the mysteries of the Pacteria, and the words "New Essence" splashed across the top left page.
Character pages are usually pretty fun, and this one's no different. Anyone familiar with Dig Dug should recognize the fellow down in the bottom-left corner! That's Taizou, Suzumu's father and main character of the iconic Dig Dug series. His birthdate, 1982, is the year Dig Dug was first released in arcades.
The subsequent pages are all relatively standard "how to play" fare. I wonder what's so wonderful about those Pacteria?
No proper puzzler would be complete without fruit and vegetable power-ups! These all change the color of the Pacteria in a mode unique to Mr. Driller A. Admittedly, I haven't played much of it, as the traditional modes have captured most of my attention thus far. But considering the Pacteria are so prominent in the manual, perhaps I should give the game's namesake mode a go? And what's that creepy, bug-eyed professor got to do with anything?
It's funny to think that this game is 10 years old this year. I'm not sure whether that feels like a long time ago or just yesterday!
Anne is a Japanese game enthusiast who collects a lot but doesn't play nearly enough. She's writing a thesis on boys' love manga, holds an editorial position at videogamewriters.com, and does freelance translation on the side, which is probably why she doesn't have as much time for games as she'd like. You can find her on Twitter (@apricotsushi) or her personal blog Chic Pixel (chicpixel.blogspot.com).
See also: Previous 'Manual Stimulation' posts