Dig Dug

dig dug atari box art retro gaming
9.0 Overall Score
Graphics: 8/10
Sound: 9/10
Controls: 8/10

Fun gameplay, simple, and easy to pick up

Some early arcade control hang-ups

Game Info

Game Name: Dig Dug

Developer(s): Namco

Publisher(s): Atari, Inc.

Platform(s): PS2/PS3/PS4/Xbox/Xbox 360/Xbox One/NES/Wii/Wii U/Switch/3DS/GameBoy Advance/PC

Genre(s): Retro/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  February 20, 1982 (Japan)/April 1982 (US)

ESRB Rating: E

dig dug atari artwork manual

Pop them Pookas!

Dig Dug has a problem.  The ground below him is infested with monsters that threaten the surface.  Entering the earth armed with an air pump, Dig must stop the monsters either by blowing them up or crushing them beneath the rocky ground.  The Pookas and Fygars aren’t going to sit still for this…they want to reach the surface, and Dig is the only thing stopping them.  Get digging and get pumping!!!

Dig Dug is a classic arcade action-adventure game.  The game was developed by Namco and released by Atari in North America.  The game has spawned sequels and multiple versions of the game have been released as part of collections and emulators to almost every system.

dig dug gameplay screenshot retro gaming

Let the terror begin!!!

Dig Dug was always a favorite.  My friend had a Commodore 64 with the game and arguing over who had next game was a frequent battle because of our love for the game.  Like many classic arcade games, the goal is both “boards” and high score…and the game keeps the fun going by adding more and more difficulty to the game as it progresses.

The challenge with Dig Dug is trying to balance this score vs. level mix.  The Pookas and the Fygars can be quickly eliminated in early levels for some quick advancement, but in doing so, score is hurt.  By boosting scoring options (by dropping rocks on multiple characters and digging through more ground), you open Dig up to more attacks as the creatures get faster.  The challenge is to find the happy medium to maximize both.

The controls for the game are fun, but there are some real sticking points.  As you play, you realize your pump works through paper-thin walls which allow you to kill the enemies without endangering yourself.  Sometimes, Dig gets a little hung up when trying to make turns or avoiding triggering a rockslide…and it can be a bit frustrating if you are trying to line up big scoring options and simply can’t get your character to safety.

dig dug screenshot retro gaming

They think they’ve trapped Dig…but it’s Dig who’s trapped them!!!

The game is simple but visually appealing.  The striated earth has a colorful look and the despite only being two types of enemies, they are well designed and rendered.  The sounds and look of pumping up a Fygar or Pooka is memorable, and I always loved partially pumping up the characters to create a getaway opportunity.

Dig Dug is an arcade classic that doesn’t get as much love as some of the other games like Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, or Asteroids.  It is still popular, but you rarely seem to run into a big Dig Dug fan.  Universal’s Mr. Do! took a very similar approach to this game and spawned its own series of games.  The classic game was followed by Dig Dug II in 1985 which changed the game perspective.  Dig Dug Arrangement was a modified version of the game was released in 1996 with 3D versions of Dig Dug also being released later…but none live up to the classic.  Dig Dug will have you digging and digging for more!

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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