Release Date: 1983
Publisher: Atari
Controller: Joystick
Players: 1
Genre: Arcade
Alternate Title: N/A
Model #: CX2677
Rarity: 2
Programmer: Douglas Macrae


Despite the hardware limitations of the 2600, Dig Dug does an admirable job of capturing the look and feel of the arcade classic.  You are an underground miner that has been trapped under ground in a monster filled nightmare.  Armed only with a jet powered shovel, you must fight off a never ending stream of Pooka’s and fire breathing Frygar’s if you want any chance of surviving long enough to be rescued.

Each level plays out the same way, with your unlucky digger starting in the middle of an underground cavern surrounded by an ever increasing number of monsters.  Each monster is safely tucked away in its own little cave to begin with, however it doesn’t take long for them to morph into ghosts, giving them the ability to move through the solid ground.   Regardless of whether or not they float or walk to you, once they are in range of your jet powered shovel you are free to attack them in one of the most inhumane ways ever seen in a video game.

It’s one thing to shoot or stab an enemy, but it’s another thing entirely to shove the hose from your jet powered shovel in their mouth and inflate them to the point where they explode from the pressure.  If you are feeling extra sadistic, you can inflate them, pause for them to deflate a little bit and therefore give them hope that you have decided to be merciful upon them, before hitting the button a couple more times and exploding them onto the cavern walls.  Apparently your tough tactics pay off because the final monster remaining on screen will make a break for it after watching all of his friends die gruesomely at your hands.

There are two more things that you will encounter in your subterranean battle for survival, rocks and mystery vegetables.  Scattered around the screen are rocks that can be used as weapons if you have impeccable timing.  After digging out the layer just beneath it the rock will fall, crushing everything beneath it, even you.  For some added bonus points a random vegetable will show up in the middle of the screen from time to time.  These range from carrots to mushrooms to a Galaxian space ship for some reason, all with varying point values.

The game starts out fairly easy but ramps up difficulty to quite a high level before you know it.  One level the monsters are minding their own business and only occasionally attacking you, then on the next level there are two per cave and seemingly all of them turn to ghosts and surround you within five seconds of the level starting.  This is great if you are looking for a challenge, but not so great if you just casually want to explode monsters.

This is one of the best arcade ports on the 2600, and despite some significant flickering it is a solid title.  It’s worth a look for fans of Dig Dug and for anyone who ever wanted to over inflate a monster to death.

More in the Atari 2600 Encyclopedia on great games like this!  Plus subscribe to Old School Gamer for FREE by clicking here!

Derek Slaton Derek Slaton (61 Posts)

Derek began playing video games in the early 80s, cutting his teeth on every Atari 2600 game he could get his hands on. This kickstarted a lifelong love of games, which continues to this day. No matter how advanced the systems and games become, the love for Atari remains supreme, which is why the Atari 2600 Encyclopedia project was done. With this massive project completed, Derek looks to begin work on another system encyclopedia, hoping to pay tribute to the games that shaped his childhood.