Puzzle games. That's what we need on DS. Fifteen years ago we were so addicted to Tetris that if we could have mainlined one of those long straight blocks into the bits between our toes we would have gladly done it.
What do we have in 2005? (Apart from, um, Tetris DS... maybe we should have thought this intro through better). Anyway, we've got Mr. Driller: Drill Spirits. The man with the powertool is the perfect puzzling fare for Nintendo's diddy little touch screen machine, and we've been hands-on and got the screens to prove it.
If you don't know how Mr. Driller works, WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN?! Basically, you're a little man with a drill and you have to drill through a whole bunch of coloured blocks to get to a certain depth. Blocks of the same colour disappear together letting you fall farther, faster, thus letting you complete the level quicker and score more points.
Of course, deep level drilling isn't all fun and games. Blocks above you will become unstable as you drill under them and eventually they'll come crashing down. Fail to get out of the way and you'll end up flatter than a very flat pancake. Plus, oxygen is a problem too - you have to pick up capsules of air to keep breathing as you get deeper and deeper.
Just like all the best old-school puzzle games, Drill Spirits is simple enough to hook you in instantly but has enough depth to keep you playing until your eyeballs melt. Unfortunately the DS's touch screen is fairly redundant: you can use the stylus to control your driller with drags and taps, but the D-pad and B button offer much more direct control.
While the game initially feels a bit pointless since you can just keep drilling straight downwards, you quickly discover that to get the fastest times and highest scores you'll have to scurry across the blocks like a rocket-propelled rat, deftly dodging tumbling towers and keeping an eye out for the deepest single-colour collections.
The need for perfectly timed movements and flawless drilling tempo to cut back on your level clear times eventually turns Drill Spirits into a hypnotic rhythm action experience, which becomes all the more intense when you introduce a ruddy great drill chasing you from above. These big enemies not only perforate your skull if you take too long, but they also chuck random head-squishing blocks down the tunnel at you.
It all adds up to what should be a thoroughly addictive DS experience. It's a proper downer that Namco saw fit to remove the Japanese version's wireless multiplay from the American version, but hopefully us Europeans will have it reinstated.
Mr. Driller: Drill Spirits is a European DS launch title, so you'll be able to pick it up at the same time as your spanky new handheld.