Dig Dug


Review by Joe Santulli



Graphics: 6

Sound: 7

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 7

Most of the people who know me will confirm that I’m most comfortable the further underground I go. That doesn’t necessarily mean I like the center of the earth, but a cool dark place (preferably with electricity) is home to me. Although this is primarily to escape the sun’s harmful rays and thus maintain my boyish looks for all eternity, the side-effect to this has been a penchant for gobbling tiny insects and fear of fresh air. Well, everyone’s got their “thing”, right?

So it should be no surprise to those who know me that I’m an excellent Dig Dug player. Sure, I believe Mr. Do! is the superior game, but I’ve got quite a knack for this donnybrook of the deep. A game where you not only dig tunnels beneath the earth’s crust, but you also get the kill the little beasties who live there. With rocks. Me like.

Most folks reading this review already know the game, so I won’t spend too much time describing it. You dig tunnels underground and have to exterminate the pookas (orange aliens?) and fygars (dragons) by either luring them under a falling rock or pumping them with air until they explode. You get more points, generally speaking, for dropping rocks, and you get substantially more points for dropping a single rock on multiple enemies. It takes four pumps to blow up one of the bad guys.

Now here’s a common mistake that I see even veteran gamers make, and I must say that it appalls me. If you want to rack up a high score, for god’s sake FIRST try to drop rocks on ‘em. If that fails, head for the bottom of the screen and take ‘em out there. No matter how good you are at Dig Dug, your scores will suck hard if you don’t capitalize on the fact that the game awards you more points the further down the screen you blow them up. For example, popping a Pooka on the surface gets you 200 points. Popping him on the bottom gets you 500. And you should REALLY concentrate on how you handle the Fygars, because they’re your real points. ALWAYS blow Fygar up from the side. You get twice as many points than if you get him from above or below. That’s right, a Fygar inflated to death from the side on the bottom level is worth 1000 points.

There are also big points for grabbing the prize that appears in the center of the screen after two rocks have been dropped. It’s not much at first, but by the time you get to the fourth round, the prize is worth 1000 points and each successive round worth 1000 more than the one before. Hoo hah!

Okay, here are some notes on the various versions of the game. The Atari 2600 version plays remarkably well, and even includes an intro screen similar to the arcade. The Intellivision version is the stingiest, for some reason the scoring is completely different (on the low side) and it takes more “pumps” to destroy the bad guys. The Commodore 64, well known for it’s SID sound chip, has different in-game music. The VIC-20 version of the game is the worst of the lot, sporting all kinds of problems: poor collision detection, dumb enemy AI (sometimes they turn all ghostly and don’t draw a bead for you), a really short pump, and generally slow gameplay overall. The Atari 7800 and TI-99/4A versions of the game are terrific home ports, with the 7800 even duplicating the vertical orientation of the arcade game.

Dig on, brothers and sisters.


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Last updated: Wednesday, December 10, 2003 02:22 PM