Published: October 19th, 2021
Author: Caitlynn Joann
Namco had no idea Dig Dug would bury their concerns and dig up what is currently equivalent to $124 million USD. Dig Dug was designed by Masahisa Ikegami and Shigeru Yokoyama, who happened to create Galaga and worked on Pac-Man World. It was programmed by Shouichi Fukatani, who worked on Super Pac-Man, and Toshio Sakai. They hoped the game would allow the player to design mazes and prompt unique gameplay, unlike other maze games such as Pac-Man, where the path is stationary and created for the player. Dig Dug was first released in Japan in 1982 by Namco and was later picked up by Atari. It became the second-highest-grossing arcade game that year.
The goal is to eliminate each of the enemies, Pookas and Fygars. Pookas are red creatures with large goggles while the Fygars are fire-breathing green dragons. The player is the protagonist, Taizo Hori, who is a 45-year-old father divorced from Masuyo Tobi. They had 3 children, Susumu Hori, Atari Hori, and Taiyo Tobi. Taizo is the chairman of the Driller Council, and his name means, “I want to dig.” Ataru is the eldest sibling who left home at a young age due to a complicated relationship with his father. He maintains a cool and collected personality while drilling away. Susumu is 14 years old and is the second oldest of the brothers, holding a prominent position in the Mr. Driller series. He is the highest rank driller in the world and his name means, “to dig forward.” Taiyo is the baby of the brothers who tends to be claustrophobic, leading him to become a pilot rather than a digger. His name means, “I want to fly.” Masuyo Tobi is the main character in Baraduke and she appears to still hold a grudge against Taizo, with the viewers unsure what led to their separation. Her name means, “I fly.”
Taizo will dig tunnels and avoid falling objects while taking out enemies. His powers include an air pump so he can inflate and blow up Pookas and Fygars. While digging under rocks, he can lure his enemies under them and cause them to drop, however, this is a more difficult way to “kill” his opponents and they become ghosts that float around. Once the rock drops, he can dig under it again and lure another enemy. If Taizo makes contact with a ghost or is under a rock when it is falling, he will lose a life. All enemies must be eliminated before moving onto the next stage, and there are 12 total stages. Taizo is awarded food items that give him bonus points.
Dig Dug was released for Atari 2600 the following year and in 1985 Dig Dug was granted a sequel, Dig Dug II. It wasn’t until 1992 Namco released a Game Boy version, “New Dig Dug,” where the player must collect keys to open an exit door. 2001 came around and PC gaming was beginning to pick up. Infogrames released Dig Dug Deeper, a 3D remake, for PCs. In 2005, Nintendo was taking off, and Dig Dug Digging was released for their DS then the following year Dig Dug was created for the Xbox 360 console. Over the next 6 years, versions were released for Wii Virtual Consoles and iPhones while Donald Hayes landed and still holds the official record for Dig Dug with 5,142,500 points. Lastly, we witnessed Dig Dug make his debut on Wreck-It-Ralph, proving he can dig his way wherever he desires.