Blast from the Past: Dig Dug (NES)
Dig Dug is probably one of those titles that many South Africans played either on their Golden China’s or their Famicom’s/Nintendo Entertainment Systems if they were lucky enough to own one. I remember playing this arcade title for hours on end back in the 90’s trying to beat my, or my friends, high score by pushing to as a high a level as I possibly could get to. Sad to say I never did make it to the 100’s but nevertheless many enemies fell when they crossed my trusty pump and mole digging abilities.
Dig Dug puts the player in the shoes of a digger that looks more like he belongs in a lab due to his suit looking more like a hazmat suit then something you would dig with. However this blue and white dressed hero gets the job done and is able to bury through the ground as if it were butter. Your mission is to try and stop the monsters from escaping by digging towards them and blowing them up, quite literally. Once near the monsters you’ll be able to shoot out a pipe from your pump, as soon as the pipe touches the monsters you’ll have seconds to pump as fast as you can (it should normally take you four pumps the most) to blow your enemy out of existence. Be warned though, although your enemy cannot dig as you can they still possess the ability to ghost through the ground allowing them to pop up in the pathways that you create. The good thing though is that this can work to your advantage if you play it right. By waiting at the edge of a pathway for the monster you’ll be able to shoot your pump into them before they materialize and blow them to kingdom come! Spread across the levels are boulders which you can use as an asset, by burying just underneath the boulder the ground will give way allowing the boulder to smash anything directly below it. Unfortunately this includes yourself, so think strategically.
There’s not much in Dig Dug’s level design or difficulty. I found that the higher level you reach the more enemies there are that ends up being the only real challenge. The design in itself is really more created by the player while digging through the ground, but then again what did we expect from a game that’s based underground? From time-to-time the game does offer incentives towards achieving a higher score by presenting the player with fruit that appears at random through the level (much like Pacman if you ask me) although occasionally in a level spammed with enemies you’ll have to ask yourself if going after it is worth the sacrifice.
All-in-all Dig Dug is an amazing arcade title and if I were back in the 80’s or even the 90’s I would see myself standing in the arcade blowing every coin I have on it, trying to see which of my friends can get to the highest level with the highest score. Alas this is not the 80’s or 90’s and this Blast from the Past will have to now remain in the past for me unless I encounter it on an arcade machine once again or perhaps while watching the movie Wreck it Ralph where interestingly enough all three characters make an appearance namely Dig Dug, Pooka and Fygar.