Reviewed: November 2, 2005
Released: October 18, 2005
Spending most of my teens in actual arcades has given me a certain affinity for the classic arcade games and Dig Dug is certainly no exception. Even today, with all of the retro compilation titles coming out, I still find I am able to enjoy these classics, even on hardware that is far superior to the antiquated requirements. Face it Ė most of these games can be (and are) played on cell phones.
Dig Dug: Digging Strike is Namcoís latest attempt to bring some classic arcade titles over to the DS. They have already impressed with their two creative Pac-Man titles and now itís time to see if our favorite excavator can keep the streak going.
Digging Strike (note the clever integration of the dual-purpose DS acronym) brings together two established franchises, Dig Dug and Mr. Driller, in what should be a clever and engrossing arcade title, but whether due to lack of vision or lack of development time, the game seems to dig itself into a hole it cannot climb out of.
Dig Dug: Digging Strike fails to fully utilize the potential of the DS and could just as easily have been made to work on the GBA. Sure, you get the advantage of the dual screen for a taller game world including both the upper world, that you are trying to destroy, and the subterranean world that you actually play in. Therein lies the one and only benefit of playing Digging Strike on the DS.
Digging Strike does a remarkable job of remaining as retro as possible while mixing in elements of Dig Dug, Dig Dug II, and Mr. Driller. Your goal is to dig your way through 80 stages spread across 15 levels in an attempt to defeat the boss residing on the surface. To do this you pretty much play as youíve always played, pumping up and popping the enemies below ground, all the while driving posts deeper into the ground to destabilize the surface world, creating fissures and eventually causing land masses to sink into the ocean.
Of course, while you are trying to sink the world the bosses will be plotting against you, running around on top, spawning new enemies and creating new obstacles for you to overcome.
Itís formulaic gameplay that while predictable still requires a bit of strategy when trying to factor in the big picture for taking out the bosses. To keep things from getting too stale, Namco has broken out an eclectic cast of characters from several franchises, so those of you with a firm foundation of Namco knowledge will be smiling on more than several occasions as familiar ships, cars, and faces make their cameos.
There are plenty of new weapons and items to find and use to assist you in defeating all the bosses and there are secret Fossil Fragments you can collect to unlock secret bonus levels.
There is a multiplayer component but sadly this requires each player have their own copy of the game. The versus mode is entertaining for a few times, having you racing your opponent to collect coins scattered about underground while at the same time trying to hinder their collection, or even better, strand them on a land mass then sink it to get all their coins.
Dig Dug levels are as plain and simple as it gets, with little variation or creativity. We have all the familiar characters and monsters, all animated with 2-4 frames of sprite-like movement that will put a smile on adultsí faces and a smirk on their kids.
Digging Strike isnít doing anything to push the power of the DS. This is old-school gaming and the design is purposefully retro. Despite plenty of colorful levels and charming character design there is nothing here we havenít seen in every retro compilation dating back to the original coin-op.
Digging Strike is alive with old-school flava including all the familiar sound effects from the original plus a few new ones tossed in. The music is just as retro as the graphics with plenty of cheerful MIDI music that is keyed to the movement of your character. When he stops Ė so does the music.
Dig Dugs fans can likely find 2-3 days of casual gaming fun with Digging Strike and you can fully exploit this game of all remaining fun in a week or two. Those of you with a friend and a copy of the game can get a few more hours of multiplayer enjoyment, but when games like Bomberman are offering countless hours of linked fun with a single card, itís hard to keep playing multiplayer Dig Dug past the experimentation phase.
Even though I enjoyed my time with Dig Dug: Digging Strike I would have a hard time recommending it to anyone other than a true die-hard fan of the franchise, at least until the prices drops into the budget realm.
There just isnít all that much substance and certainly no flash with Namcoís latest retro invasion on the DS. Pick up either (or both) of their Pac-Man titles if you really want to see old-school gaming done right on the DS, and if you really need to take your DS into the dirt, check out Mr. Driller.