Digger Dan DX is certainly effective at mining the past, pun not intended. Using the tried and tested formula seen in titles like Boulder Dash and Digger T. Rock, players must guide the titular Dan through a series of hazard-strewn mines by working out pathways and avoiding traps. Although it has been done before, the game works well as a quick time wasting exercise - perfect for a commute or lunch break - and is definitely worth the low asking price.
The concept is simple. Digger Dan DX is a 2D game in which you move Dan through the dirt in order to collect enough treasure to open the exit door. It sounds easy enough, but planning your way around is key. Take the wrong turn and Dan could end up trapped or - even worse - crushed under a massive boulder.
Although it could get quite repetitive, Digger Dan DX has a variety of features which make the gameplay more interesting. Explosive barrels, underwater sections and dangerous enemies all make for good additions to keep the game lively. Rocks and blocks are different in that rocks can be pushed to one side, whereas blocks cannot be moved manually. They aren't always an annoyance either, as at times they can help you by being dropped on buttons in order to open doors. There are also levels with floors that slow Dan's movement down by half, so there's a lot of variability built on such simple foundations.
Dan has help from his gopher pal, who can fit through small gaps that Dan can't. On certain levels you will switch between Dan and the gopher, allowing for the puzzles to become more complex. The gopher can't help you push rocks, but he is still incredibly helpful and a great gimmick which sets Digger Dan apart from similar titles. Difficulty progresses gradually over time, and there will be times when you will have to think hard before you start digging - the addition of a time limit keeps things suitably stressful. This is all part of the fun though, and the puzzles never seem unjustifiably hard - even if they do ask for more than one run at them.
As mentioned before, there is a lot of gameplay to be had with 100 levels in total. These are divided by difficulty, and once you finish one set of 25 levels you can progress to the next. Stages must be played in order, so there is no jumping forward. The levels do have replayability, as you can go back to achieve a higher score or collect the gold star for each level. Gold stars are obtained by collecting a special gem before the timer hits zero. The locations of the special gems can be somewhat frustrating as they seem to have just been placed willy-nilly; it would have been more rewarding if a puzzle element was added here rather than just digging and hoping for the best. An online leaderboard wouldn't have gone amiss either, as although it's nice to beat your high score, it's always that little bit nicer when you're beating others, too.
The graphics are nothing special but good enough considering the genre of game. The characters have an interesting 3D rendered look, but the environments could have used a little brightening up as they are mainly just greys, browns and yellows. The music is annoying - it's the same tunes over and over again and can get very grating indeed.
Digger Dan DX is a good game for those who want something non-committal to fill a few moments. You can play a level or two at a time, which serves well for occasions when you want something light to play. Despite its simple exterior, there is a surprisingly amount of gameplay to be had thanks to the 100 levels and the replayability factor of finding all the gold stars. Digger Dan DX is well worth its price tag, and recommended for puzzle gamers especially.