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Dig Dug

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Dec 15, 2021

Dig Dug[lower-alpha 1] is a mazearcade game developed by Namco in 1981 and released in 1982, distributed in North America by Atari, Inc. The player controls Dig Dug to defeat all enemies per stage, by either inflating them to bursting or crushing them underneath rocks.

1982 video game

1982 video game
Dig Dug

Advertising flyer
Developer(s) Namco
Publisher(s)
Designer(s) Masahisa Ikegami[3]
Shigeru Yokoyama[4]
Programmer(s) Shouichi Fukatani
Toshio Sakai[3]
Artist(s) Hiroshi Ono[5]
Composer(s) Yuriko Keino
Series Dig Dug
Platform(s)
Release
  • JP: February 20, 1982[6]
  • NA: April 1982
  • EU: April 19, 1982
Genre(s) Maze
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer (alternating)

Dig Dug was planned and designed by Masahisa Ikegami, with help from Galaga creator Shigeru Yokoyama. It was programmed for the Namco Galaga arcade board by Shouichi Fukatani, who worked on many of Namco’s earlier arcade games, along with Toshio Sakai. Music was composed by Yuriko Keino, including the character movement jingle at executives’ request, as her first Namco game. Namco heavily marketed it as a “strategic digging game”.

Upon release, Dig Dug was well received by critics for its addictive gameplay, cute characters, and strategy. During the golden age of arcade video games, it was globally successful, including as the second highest-grossing arcade game of 1982 in Japan. It prompted a long series of sequels and spin-offs, including the Mr. Driller series, for several platforms. It is in many Namco video game compilations for many systems.

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Arcade version screenshot

Dig Dug is a maze video game. The player controls protagonist Dig Dug (Taizo Hori) to eliminate each screen’s enemies: Pookas, red creatures with comically large goggles, and Fygars, fire-breathing green dragons. Dig Dug can use an air pump to inflate them to bursting, or crush them under large falling rocks. Bonus points are awarded for squashing multiple enemies with a single rock, and dropping two rocks in a stage yields a bonus item, which can be eaten for points. Once all the enemies have been defeated, Dig Dug progresses to the next stage.[7]

Enemies chase Dig Dug through dirt in the form of ghostly eyes, only becoming solid in the air where his pump can stun or destroy them. Enemies eventually become faster and more aggressive and the last one then attempts escape. Later stages vary in dirt color, while increasing the number and speed of enemies.[7]

In 1981, Dig Dug was planned and designed by Masahisa Ikegami,[3] with help from Shigeru Yokoyama, the creator of Galaga.[4] The game was programmed for the Namco Galaga arcade system board by Shigeichi Ishimura, a Namco hardware engineer, and the late Shouichi Fukatani,[8] along with Toshio Sakai.[3] Other staff members were primarily colleagues of Shigeru Yokoyama.[4] Yuriko Keino composed the soundtrack, as her first video game project. Tasked with making Dig Dug’s movement sound, she couldn’t make a realistic stepping sound, so she instead made a short melody.[9]Hiroshi “Mr. Dotman” Ono, a Namco graphic artist, designed the sprites.

The team hoped to allow player-designed mazes which could prompt unique gameplay mechanics, contrasting with the pre-set maze exploration in Pac-Man (1980). Namco’s marketing materials heavily call it a “strategic digging game”.[10]

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