Thursday, June 30, 2016

Nice Package! (Mr. Driller: Drill Land, GameCube)

Considering every aspect of Namco's long-running Mr. Driller game series is utterly adorable, it astounds me it took me so many years to jump aboard.

In fact, I didn't buy my first Mr. Driller title--that would be the PlayStation port of the very first one--until late in 2011. A year later, the Mr. Driller floodgates opened and I bought the DS entry, Drill Spirits, as well as the WonderSwan iteration of the original.

Today, I own so many Mr. Driller games they're coming out of my ears. OK, that's obviously overstating things a tad, but the point stands. I have a lot of Mr. Driller cartridges and discs at the moment. Without question, the one that's most dear to me is the one displayed in the photo below.

Why am I so smitten with Mr. Driller: Drill Land, you ask? Well, to begin with, it's a GameCube title. That alone is enough to make me swoon these days. (I'm a tiny bit obsessed with Nintendo's last "traditional" console right now. Which of course means you should expect me to publish a slew of posts about it in the coming weeks and months.)

Another reason is Drill Land's gorgeous packaging. Seriously, take a gander at the front of the game's outer sleeve (above) and try to tell me it doesn't make you tear up a smidge.

Naturally, the back of Mr. Driller: Drill Land's outer sleeve is looker, too--though I doubt anyone would argue it looks better than its flip side. That said, I quite like the 1970s-esque "swoosh" that flows down the reverse's right edge.

Drill Land's outer sleeve also sports a lovely little illustration near the base of its side flap. A small detail, yes, but a nice one all the same.

That same illustration pops up on the game's shockingly teeny disc, which can be seen in the previous snapshot. The use of orange here is rather nice, don't you think?

I don't know that I'd go so far as to suggest that inside Mr. Driller: Drill Land's instruction manual is where all the magic is, but I'd definitely say some magic is present within its many pages.

The spread showcased above is a good example, as is the one below.

Admittedly, Drill Land's manual suffers from a lot of the same ailments that hold back most such booklets produced after, say, the PlayStation era. Which is to say it features too much text and too little art. Still, I'm not going to toss it into the trash anytime soon. So I guess I'll just leave things at: "it could bet so much better."

As for the actual game that's on offer here, well, it's not a whole lot different from what's included in other entries in this series. Mr. Driller: Drill Land does present that tried-and-true gameplay in a somewhat unique way, though, and that is to be applauded. (Basically, players can pick from five distinct drilling games, each of which are styled as theme-park rides.)

Have any of you played Drill Land--and any other Mr. Driller title, for that matter? If so, please share your thoughts about them in the following comments section.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

About that GameBoy-centric podcast I recorded ages ago with Jeremy Parish...

I don't know if you've heard, but a podcast I recorded with Jeremy Parish, of and USgamer fame, made its way onto the Internet yesterday.

We actually got on the horn, as the old saying goes, and recorded the 'cast this time last year. Why is it only now seeing the light of day? Here's the explanation Parish shared in a related article:

"I've sat on this audio conversation all this time for a few reasons—chief among them being that I wasn't sure I really wanted to commit to another podcast project. And as much work as I'm putting into detailing the GameBoy's history, building yet another retrospective layer seems a bit like overkill."

You may have noticed that he described this as being part of a larger project. That's because it was--originally.

Parish approached me about a year-and-a-half ago to see if I'd be up for combining forces to create an on-going podcast that would complement his Game Boy World site and books. I agreed on the spot, of course.

It actually took us a good number of months to coordinate the recording session that produced the podcast that can be listened to here. (It covers the system's Japanese launch as well as its first four games--Alleyway, Baseball, Super Mario Land and Yakuman.) I want to say it was about six months, but it doesn't really matter in the end, does it?

Speaking of the end, despite what Parish himself said in the USgamer write-up mentioned above, it's possible he and I will reconvene to chat about Nintendo's first handheld system--and its underrated catalog of games--in future Retronauts Micro episodes.

In the meantime, give this "almost lost" pilot a listen. If you enjoy it, please let me know in the comments section below or on Twitter. Even better: pass it along to others who you think may get a kick out of it.

See also: every blog post I've published about the GameBoy