Video Game: Dig Dug

Killing stuff with an air pump since 1982.

"In the early days of coal mining, it was dirty, dangerous work as seen in this sad footage. We lost a lot of good men to inflatable dragons."

Dig Dug is a Digging Game by Namco, first released as an Arcade Game in 1982. The objective of the game is for your player (initially just named "Dig Dug", but later changed to Taizo Hori - see Punny Name below) to dig underground and eliminate all of the monsters on each stage using a special pressure pump to inflate them to bursting. You can also dig out the dirt beneath buried rocks to drop them on enemies. There are two types of foes: Pookas, somewhat harmless round things that bounce around and go about their business, and Fygars, dangerous dragons that can breathe fire. The further down you are when you kill one, the more points you'll receive. Throughout each level, you'll sometimes come across vegetables that will boost your score. The enemies can turn into ghosts and slowly work their way through the dirt to close in on you.

A few sequels to the game have been released (Dig Dug II, the PC-only Dig Dug Deeper, Dig Dug: Digging Strike, and Dig Dug Online) as well as a spinoff series in Mr. Driller.

Taizo Hori himself appears in the turn-based strategy RPG Namco X Capcom, his backstory portraying him as a retired soldier who now works as a Digger. His ex-wife, Toby "Kissy" Masuyo from Baraduke (who is teamed up with Burning Force's Hiromi Tengenji), is also playable in the same game, still apparently holding a grudge against Taizo. The characters are respectively voiced by Toshio Furukawa (Taizo), Yuko Mizutani (Toby), and Chisa Yokoyama (Hiromi).

Has nothing to do with Diglett or Dugtrio.

Tropes used in Dig Dug:

  • Attract Mode: It was one of the earliest arcade games to include a "demo sound" feature in which (some of) the game's sound effects can be heard during the gameplay demo, although without the music.
  • Balloon Belly: Every freaking enemy that you pump up.
  • Easier Than Easy: "Teddy bear" difficulty.
  • Elite Mook: Sequels added stronger variations of the Pooka and Frygar species, determined by their color. Elite Pookas required more pumps to burst, and Elite Frygars could shoot their flames upwards, with even stronger Frygars in Deeper that had longer and steerable fire.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: "Bloop!"
  • Fast Tunnelling
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Happens if you turn downward after digging out a rock - it falls and kills you along with any enemies it hits.
  • Idiot Hero: Taizo, in Digging Strike, the first and only game to use the Mr. Driller art style and character personalities.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Taizo uses a pressure pump to inflate his enemies until they explode. He can also excavate the dirt underneath a rock so that it falls and crushes an enemy.
  • Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons: The Frygars. The original Arrangement adds one more type of dragon that hurls fireballs.
  • Kill Screen: At a certain level, enemies will start spawning right on top of you, and kill you before you can even move. Repeat until you run out of lives.
    • This happens only if you're experienced enough to make it to level 256 (which, since the game uses only a single byte to keep track of the level, wraps around internally to level 0). The game takes the level number and converts it to a number between 0 and 14. It then multiplies this number to create an offset into the tables that tell the game where to draw the tunnels, rocks, and enemies. Since the subroutine was not expecting level 0, it generates an offset that actually points somewhere in the middle of the game's program code instead of the tables. As it turns out, one of the values in that location causes a Pooka to be drawn right on top of Dig Dug. Don Hodges analyzed this bug in detail on his website.
  • Mascot Mook: There's a lot of Pooka merchandise. They even appeared as enemies in the 3DS version of Super Smash Brothers.
  • Musical Gameplay: In the original arcade game and Digging Strike, the music stops whenever you let go of the joystick/directional pad.
  • Pop Goes the Human: Or in this case, the Pooka or the Fygar. The protagonist typically dispatches his adversaries by inflating them with air until they burst like a balloon. Played straight in the original Arrangement where an Evil Knockoff of Taizo exists, armed with it's own pump to inflate and explode Taizo with, and in two-player co-op, the two Taizos can do this to each other, for 5,000 points for each betrayal.
  • Punny Name: Taizo's name is a pun on the Japanese phrase "Horitai zo!" ("I want to dig!")
  • Shared Universe: As mentioned already, this series shares continuity with Baraduke and Mr. Driller.
  • Spin-Offspring: Mr. Driller, starring Taizo's son Susumu.
  • Super-Deformed
  • This Is a Drill: In Dig Dug II, your character gets a jackhammer, which can be used to knock out large sections of the island you're on to eliminate multiple enemies at once.
  • Tunnel King: Taizo Hori.
  • Underground Level: Every. Single. Freaking. Level.
  • Waddling Head: The Pookas.