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|Rating:||4.5 out of 5|
Another home conversion classic with a twist... Dig Dug looked like crap on the 2600! The lines that demarked the different underground layers looked terrible compared to the synthesized dirt of the arcade version. The characters looked equally awful although Pooka and Fygar are recognizable. And square rocks?!? WTF? But don't give up on it!
Dig Dug's audio is very close to the arcade and the game play is really good. Between these two factors, the 2600 version is a lot of fun and requires much the same skill and tactics as the arcade. The arcade controls are identical to the 2600 joystick with it's single fire button, which becomes a "Pump" button for our purposes. If you can get over the atrocious visuals, this is a great game.
Strap on your mining helmet because you're an underground miner, called Dig Dug, with a jet-powered shovel who's about to encounter "Meanies" in the form of odd-looking tomatoes and a fire-breathing dragons - both deadly to the touch. You create a maze in the subterranean layers as you move around the screen. Upon encountering Meanies, wail on the fire button to pump them up until they explode. Don't dawdle around - the longer it takes you to pump up the meanies, the more likely they are to transform into ghost-like forms and converge on Dig Dug. They don't have to follow the maze you dig when in ghost form.
You can also dislodge boulders that, when properly timed, will fall on top of any meanies in it's path. You will occasionally be rewarded with a vegetable that you must retrieve soon after its appearance. The last meanie remaining knows the jig is up and will bolt for an escape at the top of the screen. This version is reminiscent of the arcade, but not visually.
The Difficulty Switches have no function in Dig Dug for the Atari 2600. This seems kind of odd to me as this could have inserted some interesting options or at least a way to even the odds with different player skills.
I wish they had incorporated more variations like they did with Space Invaders. Perhaps it was a memory issue of sorts. Alas there are only 2 variations - Normal and Easy. Normal mode has changing tunnels, meanies and rocks with each level. Easy mode displays a severed teddy bear head as an indicator. In this mode nothing changes, there are only 2 meanies and they never go ghost.
Once the Meanies have taken your last life (you start with 5) you have the option of starting the next game at the same level you just finished. Simply press the fire button while the Dig Dug title screen is displayed (for about 10 seconds). You can only have eight lives at any point. Your first bonus life comes at 20,000 points and at each multiple of 50,000 thereafter.
If you're particularly good at Dig Dug you can roll the score (much like an old Chevy's odometer) once it reaches 999,990 points. on the higher rounds stay close to center-screen to snag the veggies - they're worth more points than pumping up meanies. But you'll have to drop 2 rocks and destroy enough meanies to bring their screen population below 7. When being chased, remember you can move faster in a tunnel than while digging through soil.
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