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In Memory
Sean Pettibone


Dig Dug Digging Strike (Namco for Nintendo DS)

By Michael Palisano

Dig Dug Digging Strike is an excellent game that pulls the series forward with elaborate, interesting and numerous game enhancements, mini-games and extra modes that make for an expansive experience. The two screens are used smartly, and the game's approach takes good advantage of the DS system's unique features. The gameplay enhancements are welcome additions to the series that makes things feel fresh. Read on and find out why Digging Strike is a fun title that should appeal to fans of the classic game as well as younger players.

Taking players back underground in the classic tunneling title, Dig Dug Digging Strike is an inventive, and sometimes fantastic update to the series that recaptures the feel of the classic game with some surprising twists. The game begins with an extensive cinematic sequence, where we learn that old 'Dug has been semi-retired, and is not too happy about being overshadowed by his son, Mr. Driller. A chance phone call from the president of an island over-run by monsters has put the veteran driller back in action. The setting takes you to a remote island chain, where he faces off against a series of old foes and new enemies. Each island represents a stage or level, which can be unlocked as you beat the earlier levels. As you'd expect, the game takes good advantage of the DS' twin screens with the upper view used to show the world map, while the bottom is where most of the action occurs. The action in Digging Strike is similar to the arcade mechanics that made the original game so appealing. Players have to tunnel down through the dirt and can explode enemies by pumping them full of air. The basic look and feel of the levels should be familiar, but what's happening up on the top screen is more interesting. This serves as a world map, where players can navigate Dig Dug around while avoiding the enemy boss creature. The world is divided into several quadrants, which he can sink by completing the levels down below. He does this by tunneling towards them and using his trademark air gun to either disable them temporarily, or make them explode.

At first, it seems like classic Dig Dug, but after a few seconds, you'll notice some significant differences. One of the biggest twists that players will find in Digging Strike are the new super-drills, which he has to use to sink the levels. These open up cracks in the stage when they reach the bottom of the screen. Linking multiple stages or sections together causes that portion of the level to sink. You objective is to sink the boss that's wandering around on the upper portion of the screen. In addition to the standard power-ups and fruit bonuses he's become accustomed to, there are many new items, such as speed, air power-ups and additional weapons he can use. There are also mines that can move through any nearby tunnels and other items which can be thrown at enemies. While the traditional Pooka and Fygar enemies are very much in evidence, you'll also have to eliminate several new classes of foes as well. These are more aggressive and have new moves where they can, for example, thrust themselves at the player at a very high rate of speed, which makes them much harder to intercept. In addition to all of these changes, some levels feature multiple drills, which can cause the level to become flooded when the player sinks them. Once this happens, all nearby enemies drown, but you have to get to the surface quickly before you run out of air.

These changes make for a much more challenging game, with levels that require multiple objectives to complete, new play mechanics and types of enemies to master plus many more hidden items. It gives the franchise a new lease on life with surprisingly deep and addictive play that stays true to the classic Dig Dug feel while adding enough twists and surprises to keep things from becoming stale. The game itself also features a number of cool mini-games, where you can battle the boss creatures in parodies of classic Namco games. These are unlocked as you play through the game and add even more replay value to the game. The game's simple controls, straightforward interface and progressive play mechanics make Digging Strike very easy to get into with minimal adjustments. From a graphical standpoint, this new version stays very true to the look of the original game, with some slightly improved character models, though fans of the original will be pleased that the game isn't taking some tacky diversion into 3D and stays faithfully true to its 2D roots. Dig Dug Digging Strike is an entertaining, and challenging (at its later levels, at least) game that should please fans of Namco's classic burrowing game.

Grade: B

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