The Sound of the Underground
A real piece of gaming royalty joined the Arcade Archives this week, as Hamster presented us with one of Bandai Namco’s most iconic and seminal releases of gaming’s golden era: Dig Dug, now available to download on PS4 and Nintendo Switch.
Developed in 1981 and released to the burgeoning arcade market in 1982, Dig Dug is one of the most recognizable, memorable, and most successful releases of gaming’s formative era. Players guide an intrepid miner through a series of single-screen underground caverns, digging out tunnels and battling the monsters that dwell within. In a mechanic that just seems so blackly comedic to modern eyes, our hero defeats his opposition by injecting them with a gas line, then inflating their sorry bodies until they literally explode! Eat your heart out, Mortal Kombat!
Check out the subterranean shenanigans in the video below, courtesy of YouTuber Hirudov2d.
Dig Dug was a massive hit for Namco, becoming the second highest-selling arcade machine for 1982. It would go on to receive a slew of home ports and several sequels, and would ultimately serve as the inspiration for the equally cute and equally panic-inducing Mr. Driller series. Furthermore, Dig Dug villain Pooka would become one of the publisher’s most recognized mascot characters, and ranks just under the Pac-Man posse as one of Namco’s most beloved creations.
On a personal note, Dig Dug is quite possibly my favorite of the early arcade line. I love the character design, the sprites, and the use of color, and the music always brings a smile to my face, (a gimmick in which the music stops playing when the protagonist stands still always tickles me). Today, Dig Dug is still a compelling (if simplistic) title, and offers as much of a challenge to modern players as it did to youngsters all of those decades ago. It is wholly deserving of its spot in the annals of gaming history.