AUTHOR NOTE: Dig Dug is probably my favourite of the classic Namco arcade titles. My current high score is 63,600 points on round 11. Let's see if you can beat that!
"The ninth challenge is the Dig Dug challenge. Jackie Johnson shall undertake this challenge."
Jackie nods. "Understood. What shall I be doing?"
"It involves taking out monsters in an… unorthodox fashion. I'll elaborate once you arrive at the playing field." The Namcoator snaps his fingers and Jackie dematerialises.
We cut to what seems to be a large vegetable garden. Jackie rematerialises in the centre of one of the patches and takes a look around. "Where am I?" she wonders.
"Welcome to the Dig Dug challenge, player." the Namcoator replies. "I happen to own the vegetable garden you are standing in right now. I am going to transport myself over here so I can explain things better."
"I'm in a vegetable garden? How will I take out monsters here? Are they like, sentient carrots or something?" Jackie wonders.
She is snapped out of her thoughts when the Namcoator materialises nearby. They turn to face each other.
"Hello there, player. I'd better explain what's going on here." He pulls out a piece of paper and unfurls it, showing two illustrations. The one on the left shows a red spherical creature, with yellow feet, a pair of yellow goggles and a small white tail at its back. The one on the right shows a green dragon-like creature with red wings and feet. "These are the monsters you will be going up against. They are called Pookas and Fygars, and they've taken over the tunnels beneath my garden and are causing quite a few problems. I've identified 15 patches they have invaded. Your goal is to dig underground and exterminate all of the nuisances."
"Okay then…" Jackie replies. "How will I eliminate them?"
"That is where things get interesting. Your weapon shall be, believe it or not, an air pump!"
"Air pump? Like, the thing you use to inflate bicycle tires?" Jackie questioned. "But how am I going to defeat them with an air pump? What will I do - hit them over the head with it?"
"Good question. The pump has an extendable might not sit well with you, but what basically happens is you snare an enemy with the pump and fill it with air until it explodes."
Jackie falls silent at this, attempting to comprehend what she has just heard. It takes a few seconds before the quiet words escape her mouth:
"That… sounds both gruesome and INCREDIBLY painful."
The Namcoator sighs. "It probably is, but Namco made the game, not me. If you don't want to take that option, there's another way to kill enemies. There are several large rocks scattered throughout the ground, and you can dig under them to drop them on the enemies and crush them."
After a bit more explaining about things like Fygar's fire and bonus vegetables, Jackie believes she is ready. She takes a breath. "I am ready to begin the challenge."
"Very well. Before the challenge begins, I am going to change your outfit to something that will help you cope with underground conditions better." He snaps his fingers and Jackie is bathed in a white light for a few seconds. When it clears, Jackie's new outfit is revealed; a white jumpsuit with a red V on the front, a pair of red boots, a pair of blue gloves and a white helmet with a blue mohawk-like attachment on the top and two round red pieces on the sides.
"Oooo…" Jackie says as she admires her outfit. "Let's do this."
"Indeed. The Dig Dug challenge shall commence as soon as your start digging down to the starting tunnel, marked with that red X."
Taking the pump which also doubles as her digging device, Jackie digs down to the starting tunnel as the Dig Dug intro jingle plays.
JACKIE JOHNSON - READY!
Jackie takes a look at the wrist monitor the Namcoator has given her showing where the enemies are. She decides to target the Pooka at the top-left of the playing field. After digging to the left for a short distance she turns up and breaks through the dirt wall separating her from the Pooka. The creature is currently moving away from her, but Jackie manages to snare it with her pump.
It takes Jackie three good, hard pumps - one, two, three - before the Pooka's body proves unable to contain the air pressure and ruptures. To Jackie's surprise, she's not greeted with any blood or organs - only pieces of the Pooka's body. "That's one down."
Tunneling down, she notices via her monitor that one of the other Pookas has turned into ghost form and is moving towards her. "Haven't tried the rocks out yet… Time to change that." Jackie digs down to the sole Fygar's tunnel but doesn't actually enter it - perhaps hoping to catch the dragon in the rock's path - and tunnels up to the rock, staying there to hold it in position. She keeps an eye on her monitor and watches the Pooka draw closer. Once she is satisfied it is close enough, she moves away. The rock shakes for a bit before plummeting down the tunnel, catching the Pooka and Fygar below it, smashing and killing them.
The final enemy jingle plays as the final Pooka begins making its way towards the surface in an attempt to escape. However Jackie manages to intercept it in the vertical tunnel the rock fell down and pumps it up until it explodes. The round clear jingle plays.
"Well done!" states the Namcoator "That's the first patch clear! I shall now transport you to the second patch!" He snaps to transport Jackie to the second patch.
Back in the monitoring room, the Namcoator and Gus are watching Jackie clear out the sixth patch. Gus watches with intrigue as Jackie pumps up a Fygar until it pops.
"Those tunnels seem like a maze…" Gus begins. "How does Jackie not get lost in there?"
"Funny you should mention mazes." the Namcoator replies. "That's where Dig Dug originally came from."
"Tell me more." Gus asks, curious.
"After their success with Pac-Man, Namco decided to do an alternative take on the maze formula. They wondered if people would find it fun to make their own mazes - and so Dig Dug was born. People quite liked the idea - Dig Dug sold 22,228 arcade units by the end of 1982 and grossed $46.3 million US dollars in revenue!"
"Quite a lot." Gus noted. "Thinking outside the box sure does have rewards." Turning back to the screen, he began silently cheering Jackie on.
Jackie is on the fifteenth and final patch. Moving away from the rock she had been holding up, she steps away and allows the stone to plummet through the vertical tunnel. The enemies chasing her are all unable to step away in time and they are all killed en masse. The round clear jingle plays.
"I did it!" Jackie exclaims.
"You certainly did!" the Namcoator replies. "You have cleared the Dig Dug challenge! You know the drill - let me recall you so you may receive your prize!" He snaps his fingers and Jackie dematerialises.
Back in the monitoring room, Jackie rematerialises, now back in her standard outfit. She gives Gus a hi-5.
"That looked fun, Jackie!" Gus comments.
"It was, Gusie" Jackie replied. "Although that doesn't change the fact that the method I used to kill the enemies WAS pretty nasty…"
"I guess it is." says the Namcoator. "Anyways, here is the trophy." He presents Jackie with the Dig Dug trophy, which features Pooka. She takes it and admires it.
"Well then," Gus begins. "Let's get onto the next challenge."