Old School Games: Dig Dug - Destructoid

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Remember the arcade games? Do you like that style of playing for a high score and for fun more than finishing a game? I doubt there will be a day when Dig Dug stops being fun for me to play. I consider it among the golden age classics, be it the original arcade port or some of the old home console ones, Dig Dug is always fun.

Besides the title screens, I'd like to open with this commercial. After seeing this, how could anyone NOT want to play Dig Dug?

I love games like Dig Dug. It is like finding a buried treasure. As a kid, I loved finding Atari's or other systems of that era like my beloved colecovision, anytime I would find one at a yard sale that I didn't have, I would jump for joy. Hooking up these old systems usually required an old black & white model TV with the two screws and prongs. Later I got an adapter to use with regular screw on TVs. Getting games to play was part of the adventure back then. I feel so ashamed that I've not gotten to play Dig Dug in the arcades, but I did get to play some of console versions. For some reason I always see Ms Pac Man/Galaga cabinets but no Dig Dug.

Dig Dug is a classic to be held above our heads and screamed about how wonderful it is. This is a video game by definition. The sound effects and music are classic bleeps and bloops. Music only plays when you move your little man around or finish a level. I love that. The way its played is like any Pac Man or Space Invaders game. Its not about finishing or beating the game, its about beating your own personal high score. Comparing it to a friends. Its not about a storyline. Its not about tons of buttons that you have to memorize. You only have one button to push to inflate your pump. Other than that you've got the joystick which moves you. This is a game about playing the game. Its extremely addicting, its fun, and you should play it if you've not or if you've forgotten how much fun you could have digging tunnels and literally blowing up your enemies.

Some of my favorite gameplay ever is in Dig Dug. Besides moving and pushing your one button, that is all you need to know. You play as a little man with an bicycle pump. Only two enemies appear in the game. You dig tunnels through the dirt, the lower you are the more points you get when you kill an enemy. How do you kill your enemies you ask? Two ways. First, you can pump them up with your air hose until they pop. Secondly, you can run under the rocks and have it drop onto your enemies for more points. The rocks can also crush you. The last enemy on a level tries to run away above ground. The further you get in the game the more enemies appear and the faster they move. Besides touching you only the dragon enemy has an attack. He breathes fire in a horizontal direction. That is Dig Dug. I've just described the entire game for all 255 levels. Once you've "beaten" that, you get whats known as a kill screen. In old coin operate arcade cabinets they didn't have enough memory to go on forever, so eventually they put you back on the first level or in a zero level, and your character can only die. That's a kill screen and good luck getting it.

This video from you tube shows off the gameplay from Dig Dug pretty accurately.

My golden age systems are back in my parents in basement. So in order to play this I pulled out a Namco collection I have. Not my favorite way to play a classic, but it worked. As for playing the game itself, I did three plays from round 1. I died pretty quickly my first time trying to get adjusted. Second time I broke 9000 points on the third level. Third time I managed to hit 15230 points on round seven before I died. I want to hurry up writing so that I can play a few more times. This is what I like, I can jump into Dig Dug at any time and try to beat that score I just set. I've no idea what my personal best is.

I'm probably going to buy the Xbox Live Arcade port soon. At the very least try out the trial version to see how it compares to the Atari version or the other ports I've played. Dig Dug is also available on virtual console, and as I said, in just about any decent Namco Anniversary game collection. Not only will you get Dig Dug but you'll get games like Pac Man, Ms. Pac Man, and Galaga. Seriously, you can find a collection like that or better on Dreamcast, Nintendo 64, Playstation 1 & 2, Xbox, and most newer systems.

As for sequels, I'll write about these another day. Dig Dug 2. Dig Dug Deeper.Dig Dug: Drilling Strike. The Mr. Driller series of games is related and has some similarities. The only two I've not played are the 3D one and the DS one. Dig Dug 2 I found a fun followup that plays rather diffrently from the original. But I have to stop before I write more.

If I ever make it to the big cities I'm going to those rare arcades that still exist out there. These legendary hollowed ground where I can play Dig Dug as it was meant to be played. Not to say I don't love other games in the arcade or new games, its just that this gameplay style is among my favorite. Dig Dug has that special something that I want from a game.

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