You'd think that when a video game has "from the makers of Pokémon" as an attribute, it would garner lots of attention, but Nintendo / Game Freak's 2006 Game Boy Advance release Drill Dozer failed to attract as large an audience as Pikachu and company. Featuring a built-in rumble pak motor in the game cartridge, Drill Dozer follows the adventures of benevolent thief Jill Dozer and big drill mech on her journey to rescue her father from a rival gang of thieves. Along the way she'll use her drills to tighten and loosen screws in a platformer puzzle adventure that really should have caught on more than it did. Hardcore Gaming 101 reviews Drill Dozer's case.
The eponymous Drill Dozer is exactly as it sounds: a walking tank with arms that form a huge screw bit. While far from a stealthy vehicle, the simple straightforwardness of its design and mechanics finds a plethora of uses. Sure, it serves as your sole means of offense as well as a great way to reek destruction of walls, but the heavy drill proves its versatility as a means to deflect projectiles, turn cranks, bore through tunnels, and even twist the tumblers in safe locks. The drill arms can spin clockwise or counter-clockwise with the press of the L or R buttons, with many puzzles based on the "righty tighty, lefty loosey" mnemonic; they're even color-coded with blue/red for L/R respectively. This leaves the game rather unique as the B button is placed as a secondary passive role like entering doors or answering messages from your crew. Those shoulder triggers will get quite the workout as every obstacle Jill faces is solved with either jumping, drilling, or the combination of both.
I love a solid platformer so I eagerly bought Drill Dozer when it was released and played it on my Nintendo DS. It builds a wonderful framework for future titles that never came to be. There's so much world-building happening in this game that it's impressive that it doesn't derail the actual game experience. This is a game packed with levels and challenges. Establishing all of the characters and their motivations complements the entire experience and I was eagerly awaiting a Wii sequel that never came. Drill Dozer is available now on the Wii U's Virtual Console, so if you overlooked it over a decade ago, I recommend you try it now. You won't be disappointed.