Dig Dug

[Deadly Dogs Title Screen] [Dig Dug Title Screen] [Game in Progress]
"In one of the INTV catalogs I remember the feedback insert that asked which three games I would like to see ported to Intellivision. The first thing I wrote was 'Dig Dug.' In one of the other fields I wrote 'Ikari Warriors.' I don't remember what I filled in the third field, but I do know that I mailed in the insert. Imagine my surprise when, a couple issues later, Dig Dug was listed, right alongside Diner! My father and I both loved Dig Dug, and I still loved my Intellivision, so of course we ordered Dig Dug right away. I don't know whether or not I ordered Diner at the same time. Of course I am pretty sure that Dig Dug was written by Atarisoft originally then published by INTV, but back then I firmly believed that the release of Dig Dug was due to my feedback. I also thought that Commando was released as a substitute to Ikari Warriors, also due to my feedback.
"The concept is the same of course. Everything, from the graphics to the vegetables, seems to be in place. Of course there are fewer enemies and the flowers that represent the level number are gone, but at least the port was a faithful one, unlike Donkey Kong. Minor glitches, mostly related to the monsters and pump, appear every now and then. Drawing all the characters with only eight sprites seems to have been accomplished using a clever combination of SGRAM and sprite multiplexing. On higher levels, flicker can be seen, but only when many characters appear in the same horizontal area at a time.
"Being a fan of the original arcade game though, I get annoyed easily because I die too many deaths related to differences between the two versions, and also due to the hand controller limitations. When I am surrounded by enemies or if there is an enemy directly behind me I can usually quickly turn around and give the monster a single pump to slow him down, but on the Intellivision port that technique usually results in the loss of a life. I also cannot employ the 'quick pump' technique effectively on this port (To 'quick pump' a monster, get very close to him and hold the controller in the direction you are facing while repeatedly tapping the pump button. This works on the arcade and NES port with pleasing results.). I also wish the monsters' pump animations were drawn with double-height and double-width sprites so they would inflate as large as they do in the arcade version. My final gripe is that Fygar's fire is nothing like it is in the arcade version. Whereas it was animated and more colorful, here it is implemented as a multiplexed sprite to cover up to three horizontal blocks -- very awkward, and nothing like it used to be. Not only that, but the Fygar fire-breathing sound effect is all wrong.
"Finally, worthy of mention is the hacked version of Tron Deadly Discs which is hidden on the cart (and can be accessed by holding the 4 and 7 keys on both keypads during powerup or reset). The main differences between this version and the original, besides the characters which are modified to resemble Diner (hot dogs to replace the Intellivision Man, and the shake and malt to replace the Recognizer's Black Beam and Paralyzer Probe) are the following: the block technique is ineffective because the hot dog graphics cause an enemy disc to hit the player before the shield; the Recognizer does not stop in the same place it used to while it is unjamming doors; after 5,000 points, some warriors and leaders take two hits instead of one; and the bulldogs take three hits instead of two. I haven't met the guards yet, so I don't know what has changed there.
"Get ahold of this cart if you are a fan of the arcade game, can overlook some flaws, and are interested in playing a slightly harder -- though sillier -- version of Tron Deadly Discs. Also get ahold of this cart for the sake of collectibility."Rating: 3/5 -- Mike Hayes
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