The Drill Cruiser is a large cylindrical excavation drill capable of quickly burrowing underground and moving through ground and stone effortlessly. The Drill Cruiser is fully comprised of five different parts: the main drill unit or "Drill King" and four different and independent sections known as "tails", each of which holding different sets of weapons. The tails are completely disposable and can be detached if destroyed, and this doesn't hinder or slow down the drill head's functions at all.
The Drill Cruiser was brought by Light Sword Cypher's survey team to South America in their search of the ancient ruins of El Dorado, Grandmaster Meio's resting place. The drill was used to excavate through the deepest parts of the underground ruin and locate the burial chamber where Meio was to be found and released. During his mission investigating the area, Hiryu enters the ruins and pursues the Drill Cruiser as it is drilling through the ruins and eventually destroys it, although not before Hien arrives at the chamber and releases the Grandmaster.
The Boost Tail (ブーストテール) is the first tail unit Hiryu faces, located at the end of the Drill Cruiser proper. This tail is made up of two different phases: the first phase is against two large boosters which shoot flames, and once destroyed Hiryu moves ahead into a metal structure surrounding a second set of two smaller metallic boosters with a gold border.
Both phases behave the exact same way: the upper booster releases a burst of fire forward for a short time, and then the lower booster follows suit. By running forward and sticking close to the machine, Hiryu can avoid all damage and destroy it easily.
The Cannon Tail (キャノンテール) is the second tail unit Hiryu confronts. The Cannon Tail possess a number of laser weaponry installed on its end: two small, aimable laser cannons installed at the top and bottom, two mine launchers at the sides and a large laser cannon installed in its center.
The Cannon Tail follows a specific cycle of attacks: first its two small cannons shoot two parallel laser beams straight ahead, then both beams move to a 45ª angle and shoot a beam at the ground/ceiling, which reflects back on impact; after that the large laser cannon opens up, charges energy and shoots a large beam that lasts for a few seconds; and finally the tail rotates to its side mine launchers which release a line of spiked mines forward. In order to defeat it Hiryu has to destroy the laser cannons and the large beam cannon in its center, the mine launchers can't be damaged.
Just like the previous tail, sticking close to the Cannon Tail places Hiryu in a position where none of its attacks can actually hit him.
The Snake Tail (スネイクテール) is the third tail unit and the most unique of them all. This unit is equipped with four large mechanical snake heads surrounding a fifth, larger one at the center. The first four heads are found in a resting position and activate two at a time, with the final one atacking on its own.
When engaged, the smaller snake heads spring into action, coil back and stand idle, taking a moment to swipe at Hiryu for damage, then they shoot projectiles from their mouths in two waves: first at ground and ceiling level respectively, then they come close to shoot two in the middle of the screen. Once destroyed, they detach and fly away as the second set takes position, using the same strategy.
The final, large head comes out and stands in place for a while before moving forward to bite Hiryu. This attack is aimed depending on Hiryu's position, standing on the ground or climbing the ceiling. After that, the snake awaits a moment before shooting a large, purple orb from its mouth forward, the projectile taking up the center of the screen. It then stands idle for a while before resuming its attack.
The Carrier Tail (キャリアーテール) is the fourth and final tail unit in the Drill Cruiser. This unit possess two large threaded contraptions which it uses to strike backwards with great force, as well as two small machine guns installed in the middle and mine launchers at the side.
The Carrier Tail attacks by thrusting its contraptions with great force, starting with the one on the bottom. Avoiding this attack is difficult, specially since this time staying close to the tail doesn't prevent it from hitting Hiryu. After this attack, the machine guns start shooting a straight barrage of bullets, and then the two mine launchers release a spiked mine each. These two attacks, however, are easily avoided by running forward as they can't be shot backwards.
The Drill King (ドリル王) is the first and main unit of the Drill Cruiser. This section is much larger and is equipped with a lot more weapons than the tails, including laser cannons, flamethrowers and drill missiles. Hiryu jumps on its top as it moves inside the temple and must destroy all its weapon in order to stop it.
The first weapon is at the top of the cruiser, a circular yellow turret which can shoot both normal shots and drill missiles. Drill missiles aim themselves upwards and fly into the ceiling, creating a shower of debris that can harm Hiryu.
The flamethrowers are found at the point of a small drill in front of the turret. These are three flamethrowers which shoot a blast of fire at three different directions after a small pause. Hiryu has to wait for them to stop in order to strike and destroy the weapon.
The final weapon is the laser panel, found right below the top drill in between the other two weapons, in a small corridor of its own. This panel shoots both a fast laser beam and two smaller beams which cross over themselves, forcing Hiryu to leave the area in order to avoid it. Another obstacle when facing it is the moving drill serving as floor, which pushes Hiryu back.
The Drill Cruiser was originally a larger robot with a vaguely insect-like appearance, sporting four long drill legs surrounding the large drill head, which was connected to the back of the machine. There appears to be no tail units in this version judging by the concept sketch. It's possible this design was simplified into its final look due to the difficulties of creating such a complex polygonal model with the technology of the time.
Concept art for the tails show them displaying a number at the side, possibly indicating an early attachment order to the Drill Cruiser: Cannon Tail (5), Snake Tail (4), Boost Tail (2) and Drill King (1). The final version shows a different order for them: starting with Boost, Cannon, Snake and Carrier.
- Capcom (February 22, 2014). Strider Hiryu Visual Chronicle (Japanese). Pg. 36