Being a gamer who is a bit older (37) than the typical, I have a soft spot for games that date back to my youth. Anything spawned from classic coin-op arcade machines or games that have their roots in the Commodore 64, Intellivision, Atari 2600 or Colecovision era always grab my attention. Not surprisingly, when Namco Networks brought Dig Dug Remix
to the iPhone platform, I was excited to take a look at it because it was one of my favorite games to spend quarters on at the arcade. Recently, I also reviewed Galaga Remix from Namco Networks for the iPhone and iPod Touch (I liked this game
quite a bit) and was looking forward to digging (literally) into its first cousin Dig Dug Remix.
Upon loading the game for the first time, the sense of déjà vu was overwhelming, as it was very apparent that Namco Networks used the same approach and styling with Dig Dug Remix as they did Galaga Remix (it was released previously). You are presented with an identical path for setting up the game for both the original and remix versions of Dig Dug as is found in Galaga remix. These include choosing between the two versions of the game, making the same option choices for each and experiencing the same gameplay orientation (vertical for the original and horizontal for the remix.) It was nice to see that Namco Networks did not make any major alterations to that winning formula they put in place with Galaga Remix. However, there were a few things they altered that were definite improvements.
As I dove into my initial game, the first thing I noticed is that the controls for Dig Dug are much easier to operate than those from Galaga. Now part of it is due to the four point directional “rocker switch” for controlling Dig Dug versus the simple side-to-side for Galaga, but it feels like the area where the controls are located on screen is larger and more responsive. With any game that utilizes touch screen buttons the control area needs to be large enough to react accordingly with your finger movements because you are looking at the action on-screen, not whether your finger is correctly positioned over the virtual controls.
Additionally, I was able to pick up and play both versions of Dig Dug without feeling like I was having a tougher time with either game. In Galaga Remix, the original version was far more difficult to play that the remix version, which more or less steered me toward the remix for the majority of my play. With Dig Dug Remix, both the original and remix versions played really well without any discernible difference in the way the AI reacted or how the control schemes worked. This was a huge improvement in my mind, as both titles should be challenging enough to keep a players interest, but neither should be so much different that it forced me to decide which is more fun to play.
In terms of the games themselves, the original version Dig Dug is spot on from what was found in dimly lit arcades some 17+ years ago, albeit with the customized options added in. The sounds, features, functions and design are all the real deal even If the screen is much smaller than the original coin-op version. As a fan of the game, it was nice to start it up, alter the settings and drift back to when I was 12 and my parents would let us hang out all by myself for hours in the mall arcade and not worry about where we were. From my understanding (I didn’t get that deep into the game), the so called “kill screen at level 256 in the coin-op is not in this version. This is the same for the previous Dig Dug releases on other mobile platforms where the levels go above 500.
As for the remix version, players will be introduced to several new concepts take the franchise to a completely different level while preserving the games original concept. These include an updated game art style, improved graphics and several other new additions. Some of these are boss battles, new creatures (snakes!) and multiple power-ups. So instead of focusing on just clearing the board, there are now the added dimensions of maximizing points and opening up more complex areas on the game board. From the standpoint of playing a whole new game while sticking to the original premise, it is fantastic and highly entertaining.
I also have to give a shout out to the Namco Network folks for allowing so many options so players can create a customizable playing experience. While I have seen it on many iPhone games, the ability to start as deep into the game as players have previously progressed is an option that many people expect to find nowadays. Not to mention, you can save at any point in the game and get back to that with a “continue” option. That is a huge addition that I hope to see standard soon on all iPhone games.
Simply stated, Dig Doug Remix is one of the best adaptations of the Dig Dug franchise to a platform I have come across. The excellent Remix incarnation (introducing the bosses, tunnels, power-ups and improved graphics) and classic original play with all the bells and whistles should give players plenty of replay value and constant challenges. It was also nice to see that Namco Networks made what appear to be some refinements to Dig Dug Remix control scheme compared to the previously released Galaga Remix. Especially because I really enjoyed Galaga Remix, but the controls were the main reason the grade was held back from being an A.
Like Galaga Remix, if you are unsure of whether Dig Dug Remix is for you, then try downloading Dig Dug Remix Lite from the App Store which acts as a demo.
Originally released on 11/3/2008, the game is now on version 1.0.1 (which is the reviewed version) and checks in at 25.4 MB in size. Dig Dug Remix can be found on iTunes AppStore at a current price of $2.99. Final GamingNexus grade is A.