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Video Game / Dig Dug

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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) 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 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 himself appears in two ShiftyLook properties, Namco High and Mappy, oddly still being referred to as Dig Dug.

Taizo Hori himself appears in the turn-based strategy RPG Namco × 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:

  • Action Bomb: One of the enemy varieties in the original Arrangement is a red robot that explodes when burst, taking any other enemy with it. This is also used on half the bosses.
  • Armless Biped: Most artwork depicts the Fygars having visible arms which are just hidden in-game by the simple graphics, but they have occasionally been officially depicted as not actually having arms, such as in the Namco Museum Battle Collection edition of Arrangement.
  • 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.
  • The Cameo: In the original Arrangement, Cosmos from Namco's Cosmo Gang series appear as enemies in the Moon levels. The spheres used to clear Cosmos in Cosmo Gang the Puzzle also appear in early levels, serving as a special type of boulder (including playing the same sound effects).
  • Color-Coded Multiplayer: In Arrangement, the two Taizos are colored white/blue and yellow/white respectively.
  • Cute Is Evil: The Pookas and Frygars are rather adorable.
  • Dig Attack: While a monster is moving around on the surface your character can tunnel up below him and attack through the surface of the ground, pumping the monster full of air and destroying it.
  • Easier Than Easy: "Teddy bear" difficulty.
  • Easter Egg: A Game Mod of TRON Deadly Discs called Deadly Dogs (where all the enemy warriors are replaced with hot dogs from BurgerTime) is hidden in the code of the Intellivision version.
  • Elite Mook: Sequels added stronger variations of the Pooka and Fygar species, determined by their color. Elite Pookas were either faster or required more pumps to burst, and Elite Fygars could shoot their flames upwards, with even stronger Fygars in Deeper that had longer and steerable fire.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: "Bloop!"
  • Fast Tunnelling: The main character does this at walking speed, the tunnel's dirt goes nowhere.
  • 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.
  • Inflating Body Gag: Every enemy is defeated by inflating them until they burst. In Arrangement, it extends to where the players can do this to each other.
  • Intangibility: Pookas and Fygars normally walk around in their own pocket. Eventually they'll switch to ghostly eyes or faces to travel through the soil, and rematerialize when they reach a tunnel.
  • Invincible Minor Minion: The Ghost Fygars in Digging Strike. They cannot be popped (instead remaining at their biggest size), and dropping rocks on them only stuns them.
  • Kill Screen: At a certain level, enemies will start spawning right on top of you and killing 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 appear as enemies in Super Smash Bros. for 3DS' Smash Run.
    • Fygars can fit the bill as well, due to them being the only enemy other than Pookas to appear in every game of the series.
  • Musical Gameplay:
    • In the original arcade game and Digging Strike, the music stops whenever you let go of the joystick/directional pad.
    • The arcade version of the original Arrangement will stop the percussion of the music when you stop moving, implying that the drumbeats are Taizo's steps.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: The Fygars. The original Arrangement adds one more type of dragon that hurls fireballs, capable of digging through dirt.
  • "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 its 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 "ほりたい ぞ!"(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. (Less dramatically, you can create more fissures, which they can only cross in ghost form.)
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: This happens at the secret ending of Digging Strike when Taizo finally got the fame he's been seeking for and his son not stealing it this time. Only for his ex to drag him away from it all for bailing on their appointment together.
  • Tunnel King: Taizo Hori.
  • Underground Level: Every level in the original is underground, with the player making his own tunnels. Dig Dug II simply uses islands instead.
  • Underground Monkey: Games such as Arrangement, Deeper, and Digging Strike added multiple variants of Pooka and Frygar.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Who hasn't tortured the last mook by trapping it in a continuous inflation/deflation cycle at least once?
  • Waddling Head: The Pookas.