Format reviewed: Commodore 64
Publisher: Incentive Software
Developer: Major Developments
Submitted by: Matthew Aston
When I read about 3D games on 8 bit machines I think of wireframe graphics, Driller is different, it’s not wireframe, its full solid 3D polygons. In an era dominated by 2D games, Freescape’s 3D engine was quite something in 1987.
While the game received rave reviews at the time, I found this game difficult to get into. It was a tall order for 8 bit machines to be expected to render solid polygons and if you thought Driller was sluggish on the Amstrad and the Spectrum, it was pretty much stone dead on the C64. This was due to the C64's relatively slow CPU 0.985MHz, compared with the CPC’s 4MHz processor. While the C64 game was like wading through treacle at least it had an excellent tune to hum to courtesy of the C64’s superb SID sound chip.
The game places you in the shoes of a man called Lesleigh Skerrit who works for the Driller Federation. You have been assigned to prevent the destruction of Mitral, a moon orbiting a planet called Evath. Mitral has been abandoned by its inhabitants known as Ketars, whose mining operations have made the moon dangerously unstable. You are tasked to travel to 18 sections on Mitral and release the excess gas that threatens to destroy the moon and Evath with it. To aid you in your mission you drive an excavation probe that is armed with lasers and drilling rigs.
You’re task would be straightforward if it weren’t for the Ketar’s activation of the moon’s security systems before they left. These systems will attack the player upon sight and must either be destroyed or deactivated by finding the correct mechanical switch.
As a game, Driller doesn’t offer much in the way of gameplay; it’s more of a tech demo for the Freescape system itself. Indeed, when I played this back in the day I was more interested in exploring Mitral than actually trying to prevent it’s impending fate.
I don’t know about you, but regardless of the technical feat of solid polygons on a C64, I found this just too darn slow. Playing it now it often feels like a slide-show. Still, it’s worth a look as it’s quite remarkable that the underpowered C64 was even capable of rendering a 3D environment. Driller is proof that it could, at a very slow pace.
Format reviewed: ZX Spectrum
Publisher: Incentive Software
Developer: Incentive Software Ltd
Submitted by: Matthew 'Keith' Bridge
Driller (also known as Space Station Oblivion in the United States) is a 1987 computer game written by British developers Major Developments and published by Incentive Software. It was released for the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, Commodore Amiga, Atari ST and IBM PC.
A 3D strategy / action game featuring scaling and rotating polygon graphics. You're the sole voyager happening upon an abandoned space station that's ready to explode from the pressure of dangerous vapors building up inside. For each sector, you must locate the build-up area, then drill to release the pressure. Features 18 different areas to explore, each with its own unique laws of physics and logic, and a number of secret rooms and hidden levels to discover.