Video Game History Wiki

Dig Dug is a an arcade game released in 1982 by Namco. The game play takes the character Dig Dug to go underground to kill monsters.

Dig Dug moving through the dirt with the enemies.

The player controls dig dug to go underground. He will travel through the ground to defeat the underground dwelling monsters. Dig Dug must use his weapon to inflate the monsters to make them pop or crush them under a falling rock. The enemies can follow through the tunnels or travel through the soil by becoming transparent. The action button must be pressed four times in order to kill an enemy. If an enemy is left partially inflated it will regenerate and come back to attack. Leaving an enemy inflated under a rock can help crush them by using the rock. More points can be awarded if killed further down in the soil. Killing Frygars horizontally reward more points since that is the only way they can breathe fire. If an enemy is killed by a falling rock than more points are awarded going from 1000 to 1500 to 2000. If Dig Dug causes two rocks to fall fruits appear on the screen for bonus points. The last enemy of a level will try to escape by going to the surface. If the enemy is able to go off screen then the player advances to the next level. If the player drops 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.

Level numbers are represented by flowers in the top right of the screen and each new level is noted at the beginning of each stage on the bottom right (as seen in graphic above). In successive levels, more monsters appear on each screen and they move more quickly. A level is completed successfully when the last monster is dispatched or succeeds in fleeing.

In the coin-operated version the game ends on round 256 (round 0), since this board is unplayable. At the start of the level, a Pooka is placed directly on top of where the player starts, with no way to kill it (this is an example of a kill screen).

Main Character[]

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, 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!" 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.

Versions and Ports[]

Atari obtained the license for home versions of Dig Dug, and then released it for the Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari 7800, Intellivision, Apple II, Atari 400/800, Commodore VIC-20, Commodore 64, IBM PC, and Texas Instruments TI-99/4A. Namco ported Dig Dug to the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1985, but it was not released in North America. A Gameboy version was released in 1992.


A 1985 sequel to this game, the overhead-view oriented Dig Dug II, was much less common and met with less success in the arcades. 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. [1] It was re-released for the Wii's Virtual Console in North America on June 9, 2008 and in Europe on August 29, 2008, at a cost of 600 Wii Points.[1] On April 30, 2009 Namco released Dig Dug Remix for iPhone OS, which allowed players to play the original game along with a remake with big boss battles and enhanced graphics among other features.[2]

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

It has been said that the music for the game show Starcade was inspired from the music for Dig Dug.[4]

In the video for the song "We Are All Made of Stars" from electronic musician Moby, a scene is depicted where a sprite of Moby himself, dressed as an astronaut, is in the middle of a Dig Dug session.