Some people hate surprises, but it depends on what those surprises are, I suppose.
Well, VIDEO GAME surprises can usually be good, no?
Case in point: the other week my sister's kid was here and playing some game on my mom's computer. "Uncle Darryl!" he cried out as I walked by. "I'm playing..."
Kinda busy, kid (I keep walking)...
WHAT?! The Dig Dug? (I stopped walking...) The one that I got teased with when my sister's hard drive bit the dust, and all of their games were brought over here, and I found the back cd jewel case of a bunch of Atari hits, but no cd? GIMMIE GIMMIE!
Alas, but no (grrrr).
Well, yes, sort of...
Believe it or not -- and this is a very big surprise -- this update was NOT screwed up...for ONCE. Only a tiny couple aspects of the original game were cut out (no music as Dig Dug moves around, and bonus veggies and prizes don't appear after dropping two rocks, for instance), while the rest was left intact (including a brief rendition of the original Dig Dug theme every time you clear a level), and a few new things were added to this Infogrames update of 2001, of course.
For those who have lived in caves without power and video games since the 80s, the arcade original...well, sounds rather disgusting: you tunnel around in the dirt along with two kinds of creatures, the Pooka and Fygar, which you can destroy by pumping them up until they explode. Sure, there's no blood or anything, but even a couple of decades before Grand Theft Auto and Doom made people whine about violence in video games, yes, this could be a prime example of their source material back then (although I heard complaints about the violence in Berzerk instead, which you'd think supposedly "real" creatures that you killed would be far worse than "killing" androids; go figure!). It was a pretty big hit, and made it's way to a bunch of home releases, remakes (including an arcade re-release with the original, along with an update), compilations, and even some online rip-offs as well, all these years later. (You can also see my arcade review of it here: http://ataritimes.com/arcade/reviews/digdug.html)
Like I said, the basic gameplay's still the same, where you pump up creatures until they pop. The graphics were improved to the point where they look a bit more cartoonish than the original. There's also a few more creature animations as well.
Now, onto the added, new elements...
Of course, if the game makers can't really think of much to do with a game, they usually have the gameplay be spread over several planets for your hero to visit (I've seen this done time and again), although this doesn't affect the gameplay any -- on the ice planet, you don't slip and slide all over, for one thing -- it's all just a theme. Some of the rocks that could only be dropped onto a creature vertically on the original can now roll sideways (just make sure to quickly dig a tunnel up if it comes rolling back in your direction, though!). There are also special rocks that can fill a passage with either fire, or an "ebbing" effect, like when you drop a pebble into some water, which will destroy any creature it comes into contact with (resulting in a quite satisfying scream, and Dig Dug himself will also yell with approval here and there when he gets a decent bonus). Sometimes creatures will drop bonus prizes (rather than appearing in the center like in the original), like hot dogs, hamburgers and all, and power-ups include being invincible for several seconds, extending the range of your pump big time, blowing up creatures with only one or two pumps (saves time, and is safer than the regular method), etc.
Of course, as time goes by, the game gets more difficult, as the underground caverns get filled with more peril, with more creatures, plus certain Pookas (the blue ones, which appear after completing several levels) take about 10 pumps to destroy, and the fire breath from certain Fygars can curve around passageways, burning your butt to hell.
Another curve that's thrown in this game (although a pretty minor one) are the bizarre screens after each level, showing a rendition, polygon graphics-wise (ugh), of what the current world you're on looks like above ground. It's strange how a 2001 game can have such horrible, blocky graphics -- which Flashback for my Sega CD, which came out several years earlier, looked way better! -- but yeah, it sure as hell does. Dirt mounds in the ground represent the places where you have to go; once a Pooka pops out of the ground, making a hole for you to dive into, that's where you need to head next; if you're able to catch and pump him up until he (or she?) explodes, you'll get several extra hundred more points than you normally would underground.
Which reminds me, if you could "only" score in the tens of thousands on the original, you shouldn't have much problem scoring 2-300,000 on this version, as bonus prizes can be worth several thousand points apiece in no time. Plus if you were fairly skilled in the original, you should be able to get through several dozen levels (/several planets) on this version, easy.
However, that's what brings down my rating of this game: most Dig Dug fans would probably still rate this an 8 or a 9, but I got a bit tired of the game a couple of decades ago. It should also be rated high due to not screwing up the original gameplay at all (which is what I did).
Unfortunately, nothing sucks worse than not being able to save a game so you can start off at a later level, nor does the game have any continuances either; it's VERY time-consuming to go through dozens of levels to almost beating the game, to no avail.
But what lowered my rating on this the most was that there is no excuse to having a game that plays almost exactly like the original from 20 years ago to have NO two player option. That's just inexcusable. Sure, the cartoonish graphics and animations nowadays takes up a bit more memory than before, but it seems that Infogrames could have compromised on this.
However, this is still a very good game, considering it wasn't screwed up in the least, even though Dig Dug Deeper now sounds like a porno game.
After all, the nephew still likes it a bunch, and freaked when he found out how old it was: "there was an ORIGINAL?!"
Hah! You kids. 7/10