Dig Dug (NES)

Game Review

Dig Dug Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Philip J Reed

Slightly soiled

In 1982, Namco released Dig Dug. By that point in time the company had already cemented its place in the gaming history books with enduring classics like Pac-Man and Galaga. Their younger brother Dig Dug never quite reached their heights of popularity, but it's still quite fun in its own right.

As with many early arcade games, your goal here is simple. You must tunnel around single, isolated screens, avoiding and destroying enemies. You dig simply by moving in whichever direction you choose, at which point any dirt in your way is removed from the screen, and you destroy enemies either by inflating them with your air pump, or creatively tunnelling in such a way that a loose boulder will fall and crush them behind you. If you choose to employ the latter method, you get some additional — and well-deserved — points for style.

The NES port is extremely faithful to the arcade original, with its simple fun translating very well. You can either play alone or alternate with a friend, which is nice, but the 3DS Virtual Console version doesn't really add much in the way of unique value. In fact, in one case, it can even be seen as a liability.

For starters, the main features of a 3DS re-release are always going to be the portability factor and the restore points. In the former category it gets full marks, as Dig Dug is exactly the kind of game that's best in small doses on the go. In the latter, however, it suffers from the same fate as any score-attack game: there's really no need to them, as the entire point of the game in the first place is to measure your skill. You can use the restore points to cheat the game, certainly, but there's no value in doing so, and no other real reason to use them.

But where the 3DS does happen to introduce a small problem of its own is the controls. The circle pad isn't quite suited to a game like Dig Dug, which lets you move in any direction at any time. Unlike Pac-Man which locks you into a rigid maze, Dig Dug lets you change directions whenever you like, and sliding your thumb around the circle pad can sometimes cause Dig Dug to take a fatal detour into a direction you didn't intend. Of course the D-pad is there to eliminate the problem, but for those who find its positioning uncomfortable, that can be disappointing.

Regardless, Dig Dug is still worth a play, especially for older gamers who remember it fondly. The fact that different methods of killing enemies can result in different scores can make for some interesting strategies that need to evolve on the fly. Overall it can feel repetitive though, with only two enemy types and nothing to strive for apart from a better score, and the go-anywhere playing field actually makes it feel ironically barren compared to the restricted play areas of Pac-Man and Galaga.

Of course, the game does have one feature whose charm can't be overstated: the music only plays when you're walking. Playing around with that can make Dig Dug feel like a minor exercise in chiptune improvisation, and we'd have it no other way.


Dig Dug lacks the sense of urgency of some of Namco's other arcade classics, but over 30 years later it's still worth a spin. The restore points don't add much to a score-attack game like this one, but the portability certainly is nice. For an old-school time-waster it holds up just fine, but if you're expecting anything more than that it may be best to leave it buried.

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User Comments (44)



Kyloctopus said:

I got Dig Dug (as well as PacMan and Galaga), when buying Pac Man Party. Dig Dug is the only reason I pop in that game. Its alot of fun, pumping the bad guys until they blow up. The music is also really great. Its easily one of my favourite arcade games.



Azikira said:

I just wish Namco would release Dig Dug Arrangement on something other then the PS2. :/ that game was an absolute blast and had bosses!! Plus multiplayer as well.



TheInvisibleTor said:

I got this a couple of days ago and another control problem i found was when your blowing up enemies, well it took some time. Though it could also just be my buttons not functioning right.



CrazyOtto said:

@Azikira It was on Gamecube and the original Xbox as well. There's also a possible chance of Shiftylook bringing it back in the future.



defrb said:

Dig dug is epic, only i done see the point playing this on the 3ds. Its like saying the 3ds is so boring you would even play dig dug on it



Squashie said:

Wow! I love Dig Dug! I may have to pick this one up! I don't care about the score, it's Dig Dug!!!



ajcismo said:

Nice piece of nostalgia for old timers like myself. Wish they would put Mr.Do! on the VC.
I think we'll be seeing a new incarnation of DigDug on Smash Bros. Just my gut.



Geonjaha said:

Implying that a game is worse off being on the 3DS VC just because the restore points feature wouldn't be entirely helpful. It's already painfully clear that Nintendo are releasing all VC games with a restore point - no need to take it out on one game. Do remember Game and Watch Gallery, Game and Watch Gallery 2, Balloon Fight, Pacman and Tetris just to name a few.

Also - why are controls being complained about? If someone has an issue using these controls then it will affect more than just their enjoyment of this game. If you didn't like the game then simply explain that - don't use restore points and 3DS controls to put it down. It seems like this review consisted only of the the second to last paragraph.



RR529 said:

I'll agree with @Geonjaha. I don't really see a reason to dock points because of restore points.

You're not required to use them, so they don't keep you from playing the game as it was meant. I certainly never use them on GB Tetris.



Philip_J_Reed said:

What points were docked? It got the same score as the original vc release.

If you didn't like the game then simply explain that - don't use restore points and 3DS controls to put it down.

I do like this game. A 6 is not a bad score. We talked about the features unique to the 3DS version, and in this case didn't find the restore points to be much of a bonus. It's as simple as that.



OptometristLime said:

The presence of optional contrivances seems to carry more than due weight.

Still I'm sure they were mentioned in the interest of full disclosure.



StarBoy91 said:

I've always loved Dig Dug, no matter its shape or form; it's my top favorite arcade game by Namco



KnightRider666 said:

Having this on the 3DS like any other score attack game NES game w/o a battery save is awesome for one reason: as long as you NEVER hit reset on the VC menu, IT SAVES YOUR HIGH SCORE. Worth it's weight in gold!



ShortSleevedNook said:

Hmm...I don't see why Namco always rereleases the weaker ports of their arcade games, instead of the original arcade games! I mean, why play Pac-Man in black & white, or even with NES limitations, when you could play the original arcade version? Why not just port that?



Xjarnold said:

Hmm... Love,dig dug,but,I seriously dont understand the six. Is it the restore points? If thats the case imma buy it anyway



CrazyOtto said:

@sonicriders I'm guessing it's cheaper to just release it on Nintendo's NES emulator than it is to get M2 to make an arcade emulator from scratch. The NES port of Dig Dug is actually one of the most faithful I've seen so I gladly downloaded that one. For Pac-Man and Galaga though, I have Pac-Man & Galaga Dimensions which has leaderboards. I'm also glad 3D Classics: Xevious is based on the arcade version rather than it's awful NES port. Knowing Namco, they'll probably make a Namco Museum 3DS this year, I'm calling it.



grumblegrumble said:

Wonderful game that partially defined my childhood, like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong. Of course, instant download for me, wonderful game. A+ 10 out of 10



Marioman64 said:

i hope you didn't dock some points from the score because of d-pad placement and uselessness of restore points. you're supposed to be rating games based on the games themselves, not the hardware or the game having had already been released. I hate when reviewers say things like "there's not much new", rate games as if they were the only one of their kind please



Ras said:

I would play this with the D-pad. I can only play New Super 2 with the D-pad? Am I the only one?

I like partially inflating monsters to keep the ones behind me from sneaking up. As I recall, it gets a little hectic.

Another vote for all Mr. Do games on VC! Make 2013 the year of Luigi AND Do!



KnightRider666 said:

@Ras: Yes! I love Mr. Do! I have the SNES & Game Boy versions. I also have Mr. Do's Castle for the Atari 2600. There were so many more Mr. Do! games that we never saw released for home consoles like Mr. Do's Wild Ride and I believe Mr. Do! Run Run?



Ras said:

I had Mr. Do on the Coleco. I played the others at the arcade, but I'm not sure I knew there were any other home versions. I hope there's a comparison video on YouTube!



Burning_Spear said:

I remember playing this in the arcades when it was first released. The Namco Museum version is the best for purists — it's a port of the arcade version.



cheetahman91 said:

Great game but I'll pass since I already have a portable version for the PSP, and it's a perfect port of the arcade version unlike this one.



New_3DaSh_XL said:

I have a Namco Collection Dig Dug is on (Forgot if it was the DS one or the GBA one) but anyway, I won't bepicking this up because of that.



StarDust4Ever said:

It's a nice little game. Sadly, it never got released in North America, but I can play it on my NES through a Famicom Adapter.



Gioku said:

This was an instant download for me! It's one of my favorite games of all time, I couldn't pass up the chance to have it on my 3DS! And now, because of Pac-Man & Galaga Dimensions, I have all three of my favorite Namco arcade games!

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