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by Infogrames

4-01.jpg (5704 bytes)Some of my favorite gaming experiences do not include running down hallways, blasting away with a rocket launcher, or storming a beachhead at Normandy; they center around a small black console with blocky game cartridges. That small console was an Atari 2600, and I was in love. There was something about blasting away at the big, fat pink bomber with my sleek little jet fighter that just seemed to be so cool, especially when it was my younger sister trying to force that ungainly monster to get away from me. Indeed, the old classics from Atari were some of the best and still rank, in my opinion, as some of the greatest games of all time.

2-01.jpg (6147 bytes)This being the case, you can imagine my excitement to actually get my hands on Infogrames’ new release, Dig Dug Deeper. From all appearances, Infogrames seemed to have been able to take one of my favorite old classics and revamp it with new 3D graphics and a sleek new feel. Unfortunately, this was not the case. While the developers did include 3D graphics and some nice effects, the overall impression I had was that the older version was much more entertaining.

6-01.jpg (6412 bytes)The premise is still the same: you control Digger Dan (or whatever the name of the character actually is…) as he tries to clear various planets of an underground infestation of walking balloons with goggles and miniature dragons. Each planet contains various levels, each of which must be cleared before moving onto the next planet. Unfortunately, unlike the arcade or console version, there is a limited number of planets to conquer, so the actual length of gameplay is a bit limited. The various difficulty levels can also be a bit misleading, as the only real difference between difficulty settings is the speed at which the monsters move, so essentially, the replay value is not all that great.

1-01.jpg (6739 bytes)At the same time, there are a few modifications to the original Dig Dug. In addition to the rocks, which can be used offensively by clever diggers, Dig Dug Deeper also includes lava, poison gas, ice vapors, and other environmental hazards that can be used to kill those pesky monsters. While it is an interesting idea, the actual implementation seems to be a bit limited in its scope and doesn’t really enhance gameplay to any great degree. Since I had to spend more time making sure I wasn’t killed by the same hazard that I tried to use to kill off my opponents, I found it easier to just depend on the traditional pump and pop method of extermination.

3-01.jpg (7398 bytes)Another feature that I found interesting was what would happen if a single creature were to escape the tunnel after Dig Dug began his work. The chase would be on the top of the 3D modeled world. While the perspective was a bit difficult to work with, it did seem nice that at least one aspect of the game did allow for recent progressions in gaming technology. However, this 3D mode only lasted for the time it took to hunt down the escaped monster and was actually a limited part of the game.

5-01.jpg (7412 bytes)Amazingly enough, even while working with 3D models, the game still proceeds on a very limited 2D scale. All tunnels must be dug either horizontally or vertically, which seems to be ludicrous considering the developments in programming that allow for much more complex gaming options. More interactive tunneling options, or at least a diagonal once in a while would have been a nice feature to see in the newer release of Dig Dug.

In spite of these shortcomings, I have at least one opinion about Dig Dug Deeper that explains the 3 star score: it appeals to multiple ages. Dig Dug was a favorite of my younger years and hence holds a great deal of nostalgic value for me, even if the newer version does not really live up to the ideals the original established in its days. It also holds a lot of appeal to me in that I was able to play this game with my 2 year-old niece and not need to worry about gore settings or game complexity. She was able to sit on my lap, and with a little help she was bursting frygars with the best of them. She would get so excited when one of them popped that it made the entire gaming experience worthwhile for me.

Non-violent, or at least non-graphicly violent, games that actually can cross age barriers are rare and deserve some recognition. I think that Dig Dug Deeper does deserve some consideration for its offering in this genre; however, the lack of technological development in Dig Dug Deeper is very disappointing. I would highly recommend that gamers interested in Dig Dug should consider looking in a pawn shop/antique store for an old Atari console or consider looking for a game emulator – the classic version gained its reputation for a reason.

Clayn Lambert   (02/26/2002)


Ups: Improved graphics; 3D elements; easily playable and good for all ages.

Downs: Still works on a pretty much 2D premise; not a lot of new stuff; game is shorter because level progression is not infinite.

Platform: PC