Dig Dug

Dig Dug

American arcade flyer for Dig Dug
Developer(s) Namco
Composer(s) Yuriko Keino
Platform(s) Arcade, Other
Release date(s)
  • JP: April 19, 1982[1]
  • NA: May 1, 1982
Genre(s) Maze[2]
Mode(s) 1-2 players alternating
Cabinet Upright, cabaret, and cocktail
Arcade system Namco Galaga
CPU 3x ZiLOG Z80 @ 3.072 MHz
Sound 1x Namco WSG @ 3.072 MHz
Display Vertical orientation, Raster, 224 x 288 resolution

Dig Dug (ディグダグ Digu Dagu) is an arcade game developed and published by Namco in Japan in 1982. It runs on Namco Galaga hardware, and was published outside Japan by Atari, Inc..

Atari also obtained the license for home versions of Dig Dug, and released it for the Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari 7800, Intellivision, Apple II, Atari 8-bit family, VIC-20, Commodore 64, IBM PC, and TI-99/4A. Namco ported Dig Dug to the Nintendo Family Computer in 1985.

Gakken made a table top handheld game of Dig Dug in 1982. It was one of a series of 3 flip-top games with VFD screen and magnifying Fresnel lens.


Screenshot of Round 1

The objective of Dig Dug is to eliminate underground-dwelling monsters by inflating them with an air pump until they explode, or by dropping rocks on them. There are two kinds of enemies in the game: "Pookas" (a race of cute round red monsters, said to be modeled after tomatoes, that wear yellow goggles) and "Fygars" (a race of green dragons that can breathe fire while their wings flash).

The player's character is the eponymous Dig Dug, dressed in white and blue and able to dig tunnels through dirt. Dig Dug will be killed if he is caught by either a Pooka or a Fygar, burned by a Fygar's fire, or crushed by a rock.

It takes four (three in some versions) 'pumps' with the player's action button to inflate a monster until it pops. A partially inflated monster will deflate and recover after a few seconds, but half-inflating is a useful way to stun an enemy for a few moments, especially to make sure it remains in the path of a falling rock. The player can also pass through the enemy while it is deflating.

The monsters normally crawl through the tunnels in the dirt but can turn into ghostly eyes and travel slowly through the dirt. The last enemy in a round will try to escape off the top left of the screen.

More points will be awarded for exploding an enemy further down in the dirt (the levels are color-coded). Additionally, Fygars are worth double points if exploded horizontally, since they can only breathe fire horizontally in the direction they are facing. Extra points are also awarded for dropping rocks on enemies in order to eliminate them rather than inflating them. If one enemy is killed by the rock, it is worth 1000 points. The next two add 1500 points each, and any after that, add 2000. The act of mining is itself worth points - giving 10 points for each block mined, so some players will do as much of it as possible while the threat from the remaining monsters is minimal.

After the player drops two rocks, a bonus item appears at the center of the screen, awarding points if the player can collect it before it disappears. These items consists of various fruits and vegetables, as well as the flagship from the Namco game Galaxian, and appear even if either of the dropped rocks fails to crush any enemies. In the original arcade version, the most points attainable from a single bonus item is 8000 from the pineapple, which appears in round 18 and every round thereafter.

If the player should drop a rock on a foe at the same time he pumps it to death, a glitch will occur whereupon all enemies will promptly disappear, but the game will not progress and the player will be free to dig through all dirt. Attaining the next level of play will then remain impossible, but the glitch can be resolved by forcing a rock to drop.

The round numbers are represented by flowers in the top right of the screen, and each new round is noted at the beginning of each round. After every fourth round, the color of the dirt will alternate (as seen in this article's screenshot graphic). In successive rounds more monsters appear on each screen, and they move quicker. A round is completed successfully when the last monster is dispatched or succeeds in fleeing.

In the coin-operated version the game will end on round 256 (round 0), since the board is essentially an unplayable kill screen; at the start of the round, a Pooka will be placed directly on top of where the player starts, with no way to kill it, but the Atari version corrects this problem.


Although Namco has officially given the character of the original Dig Dug the name Dig Dug, in other games where he makes an appearance, the protagonist goes by the name Taizo Hori (in Japanese order, HORI Taizo), and is the father of Susumu Hori, the main character in the Mr. Driller series. He is also the ex-husband of Toby "Kissy" Masuyo, the heroine of Baraduke. His name is a pun on the Japanese phrase "Horitai zo" (掘りたいぞ) or "I want to dig!" (掘り = dig, たい = want, ぞ = !) – a similar pun might be rendered in English as "Will Dig" or "Wanda (Want To) Dig". Many American gamers learned of his real name via the Nintendo DS game Mr. Driller Drill Spirits, where he is also a playable character. He is additionally featured in an unlockable gallery of Mr. Driller items in Mr. Driller 2. In the Mr. Driller series, Hori is known as the "Hero of the Dig Dug Incident". In Japan, he is also the Hero of the South Island incident and is the honorary chairman of the Driller Council to whom most of the characters answer. This contrasts greatly with the PC remake Dig Dug Deeper, where the hero is simply named Dig Dug.


Dig Dug was rated the sixth most popular coin-operated video game of all time by the Killer List of Video Games website.[3]

In 1984 Softline readers named computer versions of Dig Dug the tenth-worst Apple and fourth-worst Atari program of 1983.[4]

Sequels and re-releases

Some bootleg arcade versions of Dig Dug were made, under the name Zig Zag. One version looked exactly like the original,[5] and the other changed both the sounds and colors, as well as adding a pickaxe power-up that made the player move faster.[6]

Cartridge of the 1985 Famicom version of Dig Dug.

A Game Boy version was released in 1992 with the choices of the original and new versions was added.[7] Another version was released on a Plug 'N Play System, along with Galaxian, Pac-Man, Rally-X, and Bosconian. In October 2006, a version of Dig Dug was released on Xbox Live Arcade, and became backwards compatible on Xbox One in May 2016.[8] Namco Networks ported Dig Dug to Windows (bought online) in 2009 which also includes an "Enhanced" mode which replaces all of the original sprites with the sprites from Dig Dug: Digging Strike, Namco Networks also made a bundle (also bought online) which includes their Windows version of Dig Dug as well as their port of the original Pac-Man called Namco All-Stars: Pac-Man and Dig Dug. The arcade version has also been released on the Wii Virtual Console in Japan on October 20, 2009, along with its sequel, Dig Dug II and the original Dig Dug was released as part of the Pac-Man's Arcade Party 30th Anniversary arcade machine in 2010. The NES version for the Virtual Console was released in 2008 for the Wii, 2013 for the Nintendo 3DS and 2015 for the Wii U, but as an import for Western regions when ported to the former. The arcade version was released on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on April 20, 2016 as part of Bandai Namco's Arcade Game Series.[9][10]

A 1985 sequel to this game, the overhead-view oriented Dig Dug II, met with less success in the arcades. Mr. Driller (1999) was originally conceived as a sequel, with the working title Dig Dug 3, but it developed into a distinct but related series. Another sequel, Dig Dug: Digging Strike, was released in 2005 for the Nintendo DS. This combined the side-view play of the original with the overhead play of the sequel and added a narrative link to the Mr. Driller series. A 3D remake of the original, entitled Dig Dug Deeper, was released for PC in 2001 by Infogrames. The original Dig Dug was released for the Xbox 360 console via Xbox Live Arcade on October 11, 2006. The original Dig Dug is also available for play via the GameTap subscription gaming service, and was shown in one of the television commercials for the Gametap website in 2005. It was re-released for the Wii's Virtual Console in North America on June 9, 2008[11] and in Europe on August 29, 2008, at a cost of 600 Wii Points.

Dig Dug Arrangement

In 1996, Namco packaged both this game and an updated variant and re-released it in arcades with the title Namco Classic Collection Vol. 2. The updated variant was named Dig Dug Arrangement, and allowed two players to play simultaneously, unlike the original. Out of the six created Arrangement games, this version has the least amount of changes. The graphics are updated and the rounds are different. There are also new features such as giant rocks which can fall down to the bottom of the screen, and special power-up items.

Dig Dug Arrangement was re-released alongside the original Dig Dug and ten other Namco games on the PS2, Xbox and GameCube versions of Namco Museum.

In this version of Dig Dug, there are balls (inspired by Cosmo Gang the Puzzle) that can kill a lot of enemies in a row.

In 2005, Namco released another game with the title Dig Dug Arrangement, as part of Namco Museum Battle Collection. It is an entirely different game from Namco Classic Collection Vol. 2's Dig Dug Arrangement but still has the concept of being an updated variant of Dig Dug by having new graphics, obstacles, enemies, boss battles, power-ups, and so on. The Battle Collection edition of Dig Dug Arrangement was also released as part of Namco Museum Virtual Arcade for the Xbox 360, but with the multiplayer features removed.

Dig Dug Remix

The Dig Dug Arrangement from Namco Museum Battle Collection was also ported to iOS renamed Dig Dug Remix with the original Dig Dug included, but all multiplayer features were removed from that port.[12]

Mobile game

In 2005, Namco Networks released a version of Dig Dug for cell phones and Palm OS/Windows Mobile devices that is authentic to the arcade original in terms of graphics and controls, even though the levels are as they are in the NES version of Dig Dug. Unlike the arcade version, there is no kill screen at level 256, but rather the levels go on past 500.


The character Pooka has many cameos in Namco games, most often as an enemy in Namco games such as the Pac-Man World series. Pooka was playable for the first time in the game Ms. Pac-Man Maze Madness as an unlockable character for the multiplayer modes. He is also available to play as in Pac-Man World Rally, as well as Fygar. Pooka also appeared in the Atari licensed version of the Namco arcade game Pole Position on one of the roadside billboards. In Pac-Man World, he appears as one of the friends of Pac-Man who was kidnapped by Toc-Man.

In R4: Ridge Racer Type 4, there is an American racing team with Dig Dug artwork on its hauler and is named the "Dig Racing Team", run by manager Robert Chrisman. It is the "expert" team of the game. Also in R4, the track "Phantomile" has a giant statue of Pooka alongside Pac-Man on the left hand side of the finishing straight. The "Pooka Line" track, which is the first in the game, has a giant screen with a Pooka and Fygar chasing Dig Dug's protagonist in arcade-style graphics, which changes to him inflating a Pooka when the player takes the lead. In Ridge Racer 64, however, "Dig Racing Team" has to be unlocked by winning all the tracks in Stage 3 in first place – and waiting for the credits to roll, then defeating the car on the "Renegade Expert" track in Car Attack mode. This same game also features Pooka as a selectable car, which is unlocked by breaking the time record in any of the Ridge Racer Extreme tracks on Time Attack mode.

The Dig Dug universe and some of its characters appear in the Mr. Driller games, starring Taizo Hori's son, Susumu. Additionally, he is also a playable character in the Japan only RPG, Namco × Capcom.

Dig Dug was parodied in the Robot Chicken episode "President Evil" and the Drawn Together episode "The One Wherin There Is a Big Twist, Part II".

In the Disney movie Wreck-It Ralph, Dig Dug, a Pooka, and a Fygar are three of the characters in Game Central Station.

Taizo Hori appeared in an episode of Death Battle, where he fought Bomberman.


  1. "retrodiary: 1 April – 28 April". Retro Gamer. Bournemouth: Imagine Publishing (88): 17. April 2011. ISSN 1742-3155. OCLC 489477015.
  2. Weiss, Brett (March 7, 2012). "Classic Home Video Games, 1972-1984: A Complete Reference Guide". McFarland via Google Books.
  3. McLemore, Greg. "The Top Coin-Operated Videogames of All Time". Killer List of Videogames. Archived from the original on July 19, 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-17.
  4. "The Best and the Rest". St.Game. Mar–Apr 1984. p. 49. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  5. "KLOV Game Info". Killer List of Video Games.
  6. "Zig Zag". Video Game Museum.
  7. "Dig Dug for Game Boy - GameFAQs". www.gamefaqs.com. Retrieved 2016-06-20.
  8. "Another Five Games Bring Weekly Xbox One Backward Compatibility Total To Ten". www.GameInformer.com. Retrieved 2016-05-07.
  9. "ARCADE GAME SERIES: DIG DUG - Microsoft Store". Microsoft Store. Retrieved 2016-09-06.
  11. "Wii-kly Update: One WiiWare game and two Virtual Console games added to Wii Shop Channel". MCV. Games Press. 2008-06-09. Retrieved 2011-10-09. Nintendo adds new and classic games to the Wii Shop Channel at 9 am Pacific time every Monday. […] This week's new games are: […] DIG DUG (NES, 1 player, Rated E for Everyone, 600 Wii Points))
  12. Bailey, Kat (2009-05-08). "Dig Dug Remix Arrives On iPhone". 1UP.com. Retrieved 2009-07-24.
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