Dig Dug hit Xbox Live Marketplace on October 11th and I couldn't be more thrilled. Having grown up in the Coin-Op era (That's coin operated for you younglings), every time a classic game is released onto Xbox Live Arcade I'm drawn in. Dig Dug happens to be one I really enjoyed and was pretty good at. Much like Pac Man and Galaga, Namco-Bandai made a rendition true to the original 1982 arcade classic.
The visuals and audio for Dig Dug are a perfect match to the original, with Namco-Bandai having followed the winning formula they used on Pac Man. They outfitted Dig Dug with the previously seen updates to Xbox Live Arcade titles including leaderboards for all XBLA members and your friends, as well as the ability to start at any level that has been previously completed (also seen on Galaga and Pac Man). The resize feature is there as well, but after testing it this time, my larger screen TV doesn't really require this option to enjoy the game.
The gameplay on Dig Dug appears to work seamlessly with the analog stick on the wireless controller. Unlike Pac Man and Frogger, I had little trouble using the stick to maneuver through the area and take out the Fygar's or monsters. The only issue I really had was trying to inflate a monster hot on my tail because the analog stick just didn't give me the ability to hammer it into the opposite direction and start pumping. Maybe its the layout for Dig Dug being more of an open format, or Namco worked on the control response. Whichever, it makes me a more happy gamer.
The game AI is in its original form. I don't remember if there were set patterns for the Monsters and Fygar's (like Pac Man's ghosts) to follow, but they sure are good at converging on your location. The lone exception is when there is only one monster remaining and they are making a hasty exit off the top left of the board. Sometimes they take a stupid route and you can hunt them down pretty quick, but this also occurred in the original coin-op. I ran into a few issues with Dig Dug hooking into the wrong monster or not responding (when to close) to pressing the button, but I seem to recall having those problems 20 years ago as well.
Eleven of the 12 achievements in Dig Dug are easily obtained by playing through the levels. The lone exception is 'Dig'. This requires you to clear an entire game board of dirt. While it seems easy enough, if you kill either of the last two monsters, the other will boogie off the screen ending the level. Also, after a certain amount of time on a level, the music AND monsters speed up and are much faster, compounding your problems. The other 11 achievements are all tied to dropping rocks. Two and four enemies are pretty easy to get just by leading the monsters and Fygar's down a path to their doom. The veggies all appear after you drop the second rock on various levels. The addition of starting on any level previously completed makes attaining these only a matter of time and a little skill.
The bottom line is that this is yet another excellent remake of a classic game by Namco-Bandai. The entire experience (sans the standing, quarters lined up and arcade environment) of Dig Dug is bottled into a neat little package for 400 Marketplace points. While many may become bored with these 1980's era games, the nostalgia and classic gameplay keep me going. The only recommendation I have to make this experience better would be to pipe in some classic arcade sounds into the surround speakers to emulate an old-school arcade.
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