North American arcade flyer
|Platform(s)||Arcade, Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Commodore 64, Apple II, Intellivision, Atari 7800, Atari 8-bit, ColecoVision, VIC-20, Family Computer/NES, MSX, Sharp X68000, Game Boy, PV-1000|
|Mode(s)||Single-player, multiplayer (alternating turns)|
|Cabinet||Upright, cabaret, cocktail|
|Arcade system||Namco Galaga|
|CPU||3 × Z80 @ 3.072 MHz|
|Sound||Namco WSG @ 3.072 MHz|
|Display||Vertical orientation, Raster, 224 × 288 resolution|
Dig Dug[a] is a maze arcade game developed and released by Namco in 1982. The player controls the titular character, who must eliminate all of the enemies on the screen by pumping them up with air until they explode or causing rocks to fall on them. The game was published by Atari, Inc. in North America and Europe. It runs on Namco Galaga arcade hardware.
Dig Dug was a commercial success outside Japan - a total of 22,228 arcade cabinets were sold in North America by 1983, grossing an estimate of $46.3 million ($120 million if adjusted for inflation). Its success caused several sequels, spin-offs and ports to be released for a number of platforms, and it was a popular title during the golden age of arcade video games. Dig Dug received a favorable reception from critics for its gameplay and characters, although home releases were initially less well received for their poor graphics and sound effects.
Dig Dug is a maze video game. Dig Dug's objective is to eliminate the enemies on each screen: Pookas, red tomato-like creatures with comically large goggles, and Fygars, green dragons that can breathe fire. Dig Dug can defeat these enemies by pumping them full of air until they explode, or by digging under rocks to have them fall on top of enemies to squash them, which awards points depending on the number of enemies squashed. Dropping at least two rocks on each stage will cause a vegetable bonus item to appear, which can be collected for additional points.
Enemies are capable of traveling through the dirt in order to reach the player, when only their eyes will be shown. Inflated enemies also pose no threat to the player, allowing Dig Dug to pass through them without harm. Stages are indicated by the number of flowers at the top right of the screen. Later stages feature variations in the color of the stage and increase the movement speed of the enemies.
The 256th level of the game features an unwinnable stage that places a Pooka directly over the player, making it impossible to complete. This is the result of an integer overflow in the game's memory, which was patched in international releases.
A handheld LCD tabletop game was produced in 1983 by Gakken, which replaced Dig Dug's air pump with a flamethrower to accommodate for hardware limitations. Atari produced ports of the game for the Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari 7800 and Atari 8-bit family. Releases for the Intellivision, Colecovision and Apple II were also released by them, under the Atarisoft brand name, while the Commodore 64 release was produced by Thunder Mountain. Namco produced in-house ports for the MSX and Family Computer in Japan. A Sharp X68000 release was developed by Dempa in 1995, bundling it with Dig Dug II.
A bootleg version of the game was produced by Taito of Brazil, under the dummy publisher of "LAX", released in 1982. This game altered the colors and sound effects and added a pickaxe item which allowed the player to move faster for a brief period of time.
The arcade release of Dig Dug garnered critical acclaim, becoming a popular title during the Golden age of arcade video games in North America. The Killer List of Video Games rated it the sixth most popular arcade video game of all time by user ratings. A 2007 retrospective review done by Eurogamer was glowing, ranking the game to the likes of titles such as Space Invaders, Pac-Man and Pong. AllGame gave the arcade release a perfect score, labeling it "an arcade and NES classic."
Earlier home releases were less well received. Readers of Softline magazine ranked Dig Dug the tenth-worst Apple II game and the fourth-worst Atari 8-bit game of 1983. Zzap! 64 criticized the Commodore 64 release for its poor graphics and sound effects.
Reviewing the Xbox Live Arcade release, both Eurogamer and IGN criticized the title's lack of online multiplayer features and offline leaderboards, which IGN deemed "unreliable",alongside the game's rather steep price point of $5, but still complemented the gameplay and replayability factor, with Eurogamer labeling it "short, sharp, addictive fun". GameSpot had a similar response, criticizing the game's lack of online co-op and achievements for being "far too easy", but still recommended the game to players new to the series.
A direct arcade sequel, Dig Dug II, was released in 1985 and was less successful. This game opted for an overhead perspective; instead of digging through earth, Dig Dug drills along fault lines to sink pieces of an island into the ocean. In 1996, a remake of the game, Dig Dug Arrangement, was released in arcades alongside the original, under the Namco Classic Collection Vol. 2 arcade collection, which added new enemies, music, power-ups, boss fights and two-player co-operative play. A 3D followup titled Dig Dug Deeper was published by Infogrames in 2001 for Windows. A Nintendo DS sequel, Dig Dug: Digging Strike, was released in 2005, combining elements from the first two games and adding a narrative link to the Mr. Driller series. A massively-multiplayer online game, Dig Dug Island, was publicly released in 2008, and was an online version of Dig Dug II. The game only lasted a year before servers were shuttered in 2009.
A Namco-produced 1992 Game Boy release was included in the Japan-only Namco Gallery Vol. 2 collection in 1996 - this version added an exclusive game mode, known as "New Dig Dug", in which Dig Dug collects keys to open doors while defeating enemies. Several Namco Museum compilations included the game amongst other Namco titles, notably Namco Museum Vol. 3 (1996), Namco Museum 50th Anniversary (2005), Namco Museum Virtual Arcade (2009), and Namco Museum Megamix (2010). A 2006 Xbox Live Arcade release was also produced, which was added to the Xbox One's backwards comparability lineup in 2016. Dig Dug, alongside Pac-Man and Galaga, was included as a bonus game in Pac-Man Party, as well as the celebratory arcade cabinet Pac-Man's Arcade Party in 2010. A 2009 Wii Virtual Console port was released in Japan only.
The character of Dig Dug was renamed to Taizo Hori and became a major character in Namco's own Mr. Driller puzzle game series, where he was revealed to be the father of series protagonist Susumu Hori,, previously married to Masuyo Tobi, the star of the game Baraduke, but now divorced.
Pookas later appear as enemies in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS as part of Smash Run. It also made an appearance as one of Pac-Man's Namco Roulette taunt elements in both 2014 versions and 2018's Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
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