Developed by Game Freak
Available for Game Boy Advance
Goddamn, I am broke. As much as I love videogames, it's an expensive hobby—maybe, like, yachting, or renovating homes in the Hamptons is more expensive, but not by much. Especially now, as the next-generation consoles start showing up: The Xbox has been usurped by the Xbox 360, the PlayStation 2 is fading in favor of the (still theoretical) PlayStation 3, and Nintendo's GameCube stoically collects dust awaiting the upcoming Revolution.
This next-gen cycle is perhaps the most expensive yet: The 360 runs at $300-400, with games going at $60 a pop. The PlayStation 3 has no official price point yet, but analysts are hinting at price tags upwards of $600 or $700. (Seriously? Ten bucks' worth of quarters at Ground Kontrol's starting to look really good right about now.)
So it's pretty rad that—next-gen bells and whistles aside—Nintendo's creaky old standby, the Game Boy Advance, remains trucking along, cranking out surprisingly solid, fun, and inventive games at a ridiculous fraction of next-gen gaming's cost.
Like Game Freak's latest, Drill Dozer. On the surface, it looks like just one more cheap, cartoony, kiddie-targeted game for the GBA—you play as Jill, a girl who rides around in a machine that's a cross between a Segway and a power drill, hopping through platforms, exploring, and drilling through combat. You bore through walls, spin through tunnels, and drill through soldiers and robots ad infinitum. But Drill Dozer starts out simple and intuitive, then gets tough and clever; levels and puzzles get progressively more complex and challenging, and the archaic graphics, annoying aesthetic (see above), and eardrum-piercing music are justified by how organically and smartly Game Freak ties the surprisingly fun drilling gimmick into every aspect of the game. It's a simpler, less flashy game than any next-gen title, yeah—but it's also better than most of what's out for the 360. And it's $30—which, at this point, seems like pocket change. ERIK HENRIKSEN