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Dig Dug Deeper - The Atari Times

Dig Dug Deeper

This one is worth digging around for...
by Darryl Brundage

November 26, 2006
Yeeeeech. Other than making a buck (hopefully) for video game companies, remakes usually either, in general, are welcomed (or not) with mixed feelings, or they might be halfway decent...just as long as you never played the original game that they were remaking (which was usually better left alone anyway, especially if you take a classic game and remade it into 3D; again, yeech).

So, to help you, the consumer, get into the spirit of a remake, lets go over a Remake Checklist:

*Remade game: check!
*Computer on and ready to load game onto: check!
*Feelings of loathing: check!
*Updated, [probably] polygon graphics: check!
*Infogrames name on old Atari game: ch--

Classic Video Game Audience: BOOOOOOO!

Yes, that's right, they remade Dig Dug.

But, much to my surprise, they didn't screw it up; the original idea, objective, gameplay, etc. is all there. Wow!

Big surprise that was, when my sister's kid was over, and announced he was playing something called Dig Dug the other month when I walked past this room. So I sat and watched him play it for a while, then tried it out myself for a couple of weeks afterwards.

For those of you who either aren't as old as I am and thus, never played it in an arcade, or haven't played various incarnations of this game being released on various arcade compilations, "classic" computer and/or home console packages...well, one, here the hell have you been?! And two, the gameplay involves...well, it sounds a bit disgusting...you use a pump to blow up various creatures in an underground world...or flatten them with rocks. However, there was no blood or anything, and it was a pretty big hit. (You can see my review of the arcade game on this site for more details...and Ethan C. Nobles's reviews of the 2600 AND the 7800 version too for comparison ...whew!)

Of course, as far as remakes go, Infogrames took the usual route in putting you in outer space (I've seen this happen a lot with remakes), as every few levels mean you've made it to a new planet to blow up a bunch of poor creatures (maybe they represented Atari, as Namco created the game, but Atari distributed it, and Atari hacked them off, or something). However, most of the planets are the same, as the themes only represent something just to look at, such as Earth, a lava world, an ice planet, etc., are just that: the ice planet isn't slippery, the lava world won't burn you or anything, and on Earth, no Nielsen people will approach you to find out your age and other demographic info to see if you're watching Lost or not.

Whenever you start a new level, though, the game begins a bit strangely: each level starts off in a (usually) poorly rendered 3-D screen to match the theme of the level; for instance, a few of the ice levels will show a frozen lake onscreen, and the desert planet will have a mummy and a Sphinx. (I don't know if there's some kind of secret on these screens or whatever, but that's how it is.) The polygon graphics are mostly crap; I can't even say they look like the first polygon graphic games that started coming out in the 1990s, since Flashback's graphics for the Sega CD look better than these, and that was one of the early ones too! Oh well.

Anyway, a Pooka will pop out of a mountain, leaving a hole open for you to dive into for the next level; if you can catch him in mid-air and blow him up, you'll get several hundred more points than if you were to blow him up underground. Occasionally one (or a Fygar) will also be roaming around the playfield with you as well when you complete a level, but they're worth pretty much the same as they are underground.

So, once you get underground, the gameplay's pretty much the same as the arcade original. Of course, there are a few subtle differences, like the graphics have been tweaked to the point where they're more cartoonish-looking, for one thing. You'll probably notice pretty quickly that the screens are bigger than the original's, as you'll have to scroll down on most of them to see and reach all of the creatures. Dropping two rocks isn't going to get you that bonus prize in the middle of the screen like on the original either; you'll have to wait for the last creature to drop a polygon-shaped hot dog, hamburger, and other things (Dig Dug goes junk food; GREAT, good lesson for the kiddies!). Several of the rocks you can push sideways, which is cool, although if there isn't a vertical passageway for them to drop down into, you'd better get the hell out of the way FAST, because they could come rolling right back in your direction!! There are also special rocks that send out either a burning, freezing (depending on what the level's theme is that you're currently on), or kind of an expanding, ebbing effect that will kill any creature within it's radius, which will give a nice death scream that is pretty satisfying to hear (also, occasionally Dig Dug will say "yipee!" and a couple of other words, but since it doesn't sound like he was voiced by a 12 year old [which happens quite a lot in video games], don't groan, it's not bad). There are also some nice power-ups like being able to destroy a creature with only one or two pumps (rather than the standard four or so), brief invincibility, move faster, etc.

On the flip side, though, there's quite a few new twists that will keep you on your toes. Occasionally a certain Fygar's flame attack will twist around a corridor, rather than only moving straight up or down or sideways. So watch out for these. Some Pookas (that are blue) also literally take about 10 pumps to blow up. You only get one bonus life that I know of (the nephew was given this to free from a friend, sans instructions, so I can't say for sure about that though), and the keyboard controls can get a bit squirrely when the action speeds up (however, I'm filling in Not Applicable for the controls, since I don't have a joystick on this computer to see how one of those responds, so I don't think it would be fair to rate the controls when I'm only trying out half of my options; for the keyboard, though, I'd rate them from 80 to maybe 83%). Also as I mentioned earlier, most of the full-screen/above-level polygon graphics are crap, but the underground looks pretty nice, with various colors and all, depending on their theme, and even though the music's mostly good, a lot of it sounds like it was ripped off from the Sega Sonic CD (except for one level that features very bizarre whistling).

Now, due to this update NOT being screwed up, having some nice power-ups and all, plus the Dig Dug theme being played whenever you complete a level, you'd think I'd rate this game a little higher. First off, I only played this game for a week or two, since I'm kind of tired of Dig Dug, due to playing it to death a couple of decades earlier (ducks). Sure it's a classic, but it might not hold your interest for very long either due to that. And second, what killed a higher score on this is that there is NO TWO PLAYER OPTION; none! Oh man. Having a game that plays almost exactly like the original from nearly two decades before (the copyright date on this cd is 2001), but without a two player option, that's pretty inexcusable, in my opinion. So that lowered it's score. Still, it's pretty much worth it though if you were to find it at a yard sale or something, just as long as you don't pay more than $15 boxed, maybe $20 (although most yard sale stuff is usually going to be $10 or less, in general).

However, the ending REALLY sucks; you just get a "you did it!"-type message, as Dig Dug waves from his ship...well, I THINK he's waving (he just has his hand up), it's just a static screen as the credits roll! Yep, we don't even get any animation or anything. They should have had him get back to Earth, come out of his space ship...and find creatures coming out of the ground, leaving it wide open for a sequel (with a really classic look on his face, like "oh...crap!"). But then, do my paychecks say "Infogrames" or "Atari" on them? No, they don't. So that's why the ending sucks rocks. And you know Namco didn't care in the least either, just as long as they're still receiving royalties from the game.

Still a good time is to be had with this one, though, but I still want that hour to hour and a half back of my life that it took to beat it that one night.

Is this really a worthy update?
Looks about right...
What the...? Enemies above ground?
That ice has got to be tough to dig through!
Dig Dug Deeper
System: Other
Publisher: Atari
Genre: Action
Graphics Score: 80%
Sound & Music Score: 80%
Gameplay Score: 85%
Control Score: %

Final Score: 80%

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