The Game: Who said landscaping was easy? 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 a Fygar sneaks up behind you, he can toast you if you’re not careful. (Namco, 1985)
Memories: For some reason that I have a hard time trying to fathom, this game was released for the Famicom only – the Japanese console which was re-engineered as the NES for the English-speaking market. The reason I can’t fathom that is that this is a perfectly playable port of Dig Dug. Did Namco really think that this cute classic was past its sell-by date in the States?
The game itself looks great, the one real drawback being that the color palette of the graphics seems to have been reduced significantly, doing away with some of the distinctive bright colors of the arcade game. The sound effects are almost arcade-perfect, and the game play is as close as one could get to playing arcade Dig Dug at home in 198?. As with the NES version of Galaga, there’s a trade-off in the size of the playing field – arcade Dig Dug is played on a vertically oriented monitor, so the play area is compressed here. Sometimes this meant that enemies could reach you fast than they would in the arcade; even experienced players had to adjust their strategy and patterns accordingly.
But also like NES Galaga, Dig Dug helped to serve notice that the days of home ports of arcade games just “kinda sorta” resembling their inspiration were over. When it came to the classics, Famicom and NES were changing the rules: arcade authenticity was here, now.