The Game: You are Dig Dug, an intrepid gardener whose soil is infested with pesky Pookas and fire-breathing Fygars. You’re armed with your trusty pump, which you can use to inflate your enemies until, finally, they blow up. But both the Pookas and Fygars can crawl through the ground and can pop out into your tunnels, and if Buy this gamea Fygar sneaks up behind you, he can toast you if you’re not careful. (Atarisoft, 1983)
Memories: With the license already in-house at Atari (as part of the distribution deal that saw Atari handling the game in the U.S.), Atarisoft began cranking out versions of Dig Dug for competing home computer platforms. As often as not, however, the Apple versions of the games for which Atari had the license were a mixed bag.
The graphics, at least, are within throwing distance of the arcade – they get the point across at least as well as, say, the 2600 or 5200 editions. Where Dig Dug for the Apple II failed, and failed hard, was in its abysmal sound. Maybe the game’s programming team should’ve skipped any attempts to do the game’s signature music, or maybe they should’ve found a better way to implement it; as it is, it’s almost as annoying as the “touch tone phone” intro of 2600 Pac-Man.
The great bugbear of doing sound for the Apple II was that one could do it well if there was a Mockingboard sound card installed… but that peripheral didn’t exactly have wide penetration among the Apple user base, so game designers couldn’t count on its presence. But even so, sticking to a monophonic version of the various Dig Dug ditties would’ve been possible; I could probably dig up an old book on Apple programming and figure it out in BASIC. Why couldn’t Atarisoft?
Still, the game is playable and fun… it’s just missing a lot of the pleasing mix of sounds that made the arcade game addictive.