Oil's Well (VGA)


From the game manual

What's the point?
Well, it's like this: Between the layers and layers of the earth's crust are vast, maze-like deposits of oil. Your goal is to guide your drill bit through each maze, guzzling every drop of oil before advancing to the next layer. Sounds easy, huh? Well, it would be, if it weren't for all the land mines and underground dwelling critters that obliterate your drill bits and pipes at every turn. It won't be easy, but it will be a heck a lot of fun - that's the point!

Your drill bit and you
As you play Oil's Well, your drill bit will become a very important part of your life. You'll begin the game with 3 drill bits (lives), and you'll have to take very good care of them; many dangers await each one. The good news is that you'll earn another for every 10,000 points you rack up. Each drill bit has a life span of 990 ticks (10 ticks is about 1 second), so watch the clock!

Oil, that is... Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to devour as much of this gooey stuff as you possibly can. Each rectangular 'pellet' in your path represents oil. Oil pellets are worth 10 points each, and you must gobble every pellet on the screen to advance to the next exciting level.

Goblets: Fact or Fiction?
These super rich, super rare oil deposits (which look like goblets), are worth 1000 points each. They look a lot like goblets for no apparent reason whatsoever.

Land mines for fun and profit
Don't eat the land mines!! Like all really exciting oil fields, yours is riddled with these potentially dangerous devices. Land mines, when eaten, will detonate and destroy your beloved drill bit. Land mines can pass through your pipe, however, with no effect.

The Dreaded Critter
Critters come in various shapes and sizes; long thin slimy ones, short fat fuzzy ones, with and without legs, arms and various other appendages. They tend to inhabit underground areas rich in oil, so you'll encounter oodles of these horrid little beasties as you drill. Your drill bit will devour any critter foolish enough to get in its way; indeed, critters can be worth up to 170 points each (values increase as you dig deeper). Unfortunately, most critters are the aggressive sort; they'll boldly attack your pipe, destroying large sections of it, and your bit to boot. Retract your pipe quickly if a critters approaches it!

Petromins are our friends
These rare minerals are known to leave a bad taste in the mouths of even the most vicious critters. When you drill through a petromin all critter activity will be temporarily slowed, allowing you just a little more time to mine those elusive oil pellets. Note that land mines are not deterred by petromins!


During installation of the game, you have to select one of three possible controllers:

- keyboard: by default the settings are to use the arrow keys (or numeric keypad) to steer the drill bit, and the space bar to retract it. Numpad 5 or the opposite direction key will stop the drill. These settings however can be redefined during installation if desired. The keyboard is what we used to play through the game, as it is really fast and pretty accurate. The only drawback on using the keyboard is that you may have difficulties reaching some oil pellets which require a series of quick turns.

- mouse: when using a mouse to play, your accuracy is perfect. The mouse cursor is a small rectangle and all you have to do is click on the spot where you'd like the drill bit to go and press the right mouse button to retract the drill. This is very handy for oil pellets which are in annoying locations. It does however have several drawbacks. First off, for most people it will probably go slower since you have to constantly move the mouse around all over the screen. Secondly and more importantly, the drill bit will always take the shortest way to its destination, and that may not always be the best way with all those creatures and bombs crawling around. The only way to avoid this, is to use multiple clicks to get somewhere, which again, is slow and tiring. Definitely not our recommended controller.

- Joystick (or gamepad): when selecting this controller, you'll be asked to calibrate it before the game begins. I guess it depends on which joystick/gamepad you have and on your experience whether you prefer this controller or not. We tried it with a Logitech Dual Action and, while it went pretty smoothly, our accuracy was better using the keyboard, but that's all up to personal experience.

Command keys

You can't save (and restore) in this game, so the usual F5 and F7 keys are not available. When you have lost all the drill bits, you'll have to restart from level 1. It's the kind of game you have to grow into. Practice makes perfect. The command keys are:

F1 Pause
F2 Music on/off
F3 Sound effects on/off
F6 Cartoons on/off
F9 Restart game
F10 (or Ctrl-Q) Quit

Difficulty level

There are 3 difficulty levels: "Regular" (easy), "Unleaded" (medium) and "Premium" (hard). Though the easy setting is simple to play at first, it gets quite hard from level 5 on. Trying to complete the game on hard or even medium difficulty is near impossible to do, as a continuous inflow of creatures of all sizes prevent you to even get to the bottom of the screen. Of course if you like a real challenge... Also on the hard setting, there are no goblets, so time becomes a big issue as you can no longer grab those 1000-pointers to regain drill bits. There appear to be no land mines in the difficult setting though, if that is of any comfort...

The first level on hard setting. Good luck getting down there.

One or Two player

The "Two Player" option does not mean co-operative game play. Players simply change turns each time the other player loses a drill bit. When one player has lost all drill bits, the other player can simply continue until he loses as well.