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Xbox Live Arcade Review: Dig Dug

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Another Wednesday, another retro arcade game makes its way to XBLA. Today’s title is arcade classic, Dig Dug, one of the finest games Namco released in the early 80s.

Lately there have been a lot of classic titles appearing on XBLA. Konami has lead the pack so far by offering solid titles like Frogger and Time pilot. Konami’s XBLA releases often feature updated graphics and sound, while maintaining their classic feel. Namco’s releases on the other hand, don’t really offer much in the way of improvements and in the case of Dig Dug actually scars their legacy.

Aurally and graphically the game appears the same as the original 1982 arcade release, though the sprites and backgrounds are surprisingly crisp for such an ancient title. Like all vertical arcade titles you have the ability to shrink/expand the screen size, or repositioning it to make gameplay more comfortable.

Game play, sadly, is so infuriatingly bad that it doesn’t really matter if you’re paying attention or not, because you’re still going to die. Though Pac-Man’s controls were horrible, Dig Dug’s are a whole new kind of nasty.

When moving in a straight line your controls are incredible responsive, but try to move in any other direction and you’ll notice a major lag. Even if you’re using the D-Pad, moving from one direction to the other can be a pain. If you want to go from straight down to right you have to go from “Down” to “Down + Down-Right” to “Down-Right” to “Down-Right + Right” to “Right”. It’s almost as if it can’t recognize a change in direction if you’re depressing a diagonal. A flaw this painful is inexcusable and given the control issues Pac-Man had, Namco should be ashamed.

Control issues aside the core gameplay mechanics remain the same. Dig in the ground, harpoon monsters, pump air until they explode, repeat. If you drop a few rocks in certain levels mysterious fruits will appear and that not only means extra points, but achievements as well. That’s pretty much it.

It’s a shame that Namco just couldn’t seem to get the controls right. Dig Dug is a really fun game and had the controls worked, this would’ve been a perfect port. But unfortunately that just isn’t the case.

Dig Dug is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB

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About Jason Westhaver

  • I finally played it. The controls are pretty dodgy. Hopefully we will see an auto update like they did with Pac-Man. That would be great.