Dig Dug: Digging Strike (Nintendo DS) Review

By Mike Mason 29.08.2006 4

The original Dig Dug first appeared in arcades in 1982, tasking players with the job of ridding lands of invading monsters. What made Dig Dug special was how you had to dispose of the creatures: tunneling underground to meet them with blasts from your bicycle pump. Namco have decided to join a craze started by Taito and Rising Star and created an all new version of the series for Nintendo DS, but have they hit gold or just ended up with a face full of mud?

It's sad but inevitable; with gaming only having become truly mainstream in the last eleven or so years, many of you may not have even heard of Dig Dug, much less played it. Indeed, Mr. Driller might be a name more familiar to you, which might seem like a completely arbitrary connection until you learn that Mr. Driller is actually the son of the star of Dig Dug, Taizo Hori. As such, this will be a lot of peoples' first encounter with the series, so Namco really should be pulling out all the plugs to impress.

Taizo Hori is at home one day, having a grumble like usual. See, he might've been the hero of the Dig Dug Incident years ago, wherein he saved the world from the cave dwelling monsters, but nowadays he's a bitter, old(ish) man who's in charge of the Driller Council (why there needs to be an entire council dedicated to drilling we're not sure, but there is, so fair enough). The reason for his anger is his own son, Susumu "Mr. Driller" Hori, who has stolen the media spotlight from him in recent years, and so when the islandic continent Horinesia is in peril because of a new infestation of beasties, he capitalises immediately and goes off to help, to regain his fame

Screenshot for Dig Dug: Digging Strike on Nintendo DS

How do you take an old game and entirely remake it for an all-new audience without sacrificing anything that made it great in the first place? In this case, you take two games from earlier on in the series, one popular (Dig Dug), one not so popular (Dig Dug 2) and combine their elements into one cohesive game - the bulk of the game is in the style of Dig Dug, but Dig Dug 2's sections also play a large role. Basically, in Dig Dug the first you burrowed around beneath the ground and destroyed monsters by attaching a pump to them and inflating them so full of air that they burst, and once they were all killed the stage would be complete. In contrast, Dig Dug 2, the far less common game, the action took place on the surface. Players could inflate the baddies to death or smack them with a jackhammer, but the main new feature was that the land was filled with giant pillars stuck in the ground that could be drilled down to create cracks in the earth. Assault enough pillars and connect the cracks and a section of the island would be sunk right into the sea, taking any enemies with it.

Screenshot for Dig Dug: Digging Strike on Nintendo DS

Dig Dug: Digging Strike is quite clever in how it combines these elements to create a 'best of both worlds' dynamic. You start off on the surface of a given island, surrounding by pillars that will either create horizontal or vertical cracks depending on how they are oriented, and to pummel them into the ground you must hop down holes that correspond to them. Here, the play switches to the underground world, where you can collect various power ups while avoiding the advances of the enemy Pookas (red ball things with goggles) and Fygars (mini dragons that, surprise surprise, breath fire)

You can now collect items which allow you to distract or kill enemies in different ways, protect yourself for a hit or two, and it is possible to summon Mr. Driller in the terribly-punned Horicopter to come and give you a hand on the surface while you're underground. Driller can either twist the pillars about to give them a potential different direction of earth-crackage, instantly knock a pillar down with a weight so you don't have to spend as much time knee deep in dirt or even engage in a bit of shoot 'em up action to stun the big boss (called Horivalou as a parody to the fighter Solvalou, found in Namco shoot 'em up Xevious). He can also appear in a car to distract or slow down enemies with exhaust fumes in a section known as Hori X (a parody of old Namco game Rally-X

Screenshot for Dig Dug: Digging Strike on Nintendo DS

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

A shock release that proves that looks alone do not make a game

Developer

Namco

Publisher

Namco

Genre

Puzzle

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Nice work Mike. Let's hope that it at least makes the DS Top 20 next week...

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

You actually gave it a pretty high score...

Well I'm assuming that it's because just like the original Dig Dug, this has a strong charm to it.

I love the original Dig Dug...it's great! :-D

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

That's because it deserves it, tiamat. It's just a shame it's going to get totally swept under the mat in the eyes of most people...

Not sure if it'll be in the DS top 20 Adam, not just because it'll be ignored, but because I'm not even sure it's out! They seem to have delayed it again until September, but I'd already written this before realising, so thought I'd put it up anyway...

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