Category Archives: dig dug

The Namco Museum and Xevious

Just to show you all what a big old fart I am, and how out of touch gaming-wise I am, the very first free download I ever got from the PlayStation Store was this – Namco Museum. Yeah, I’m old. Deal with it.

As the name might imply it’s a small collection of old games from the 1980s, namely Pac-Man, Dig Dug, Galaga, and Xevious. To be fair, it’s actually the trial for Namco Museum Essentials, and has much more available but I haven’t purchased the whole package yet. And I have looked, but there doesn’t seem to be an option to buy it. One problem with this one is that the games are presented in their original arcade form – vertical, on a horizontal screen. Oh well.

With the exception of Pac-Man, these are all games I spent a generous amount of time with at the arcade. I was never big into Pac-Man, but the others I loved. Dig Dug I’ve talked about before, everyone knows about Pac-Man, and Galaga is really just a color evolution up from Space Invaders. Xevious is the one I want to talk about today.

Xevious was a vertical scroller from back in the day, 1982, known for its bouncy tunage and unique breaking glass sound effects when you blasted the disc things that spun through the air at you. That effect is recreated here but the controller again makes what was easy on the arcade game difficult here – shooting and bombing simultaneously.

Xevious is a fun game without becoming too monotonous, although it remains much the same throughout. I remember the ship you pilot is called oddly the Solvalou, and that the sides of the arcade game showed pics that didn’t exactly match the game itself. Always fun, even in this format.

Advertisements

Not Dig Dug

Digger is not Dig Dug. Or at least that’s what I’ve been told. I had never heard of Digger before I downloaded it for free from the PlayStation Store, and despite looking a heck of a lot like Dig Dug or even Mr. Do, I am assured this Canadian game created by Windmill Software in 1983 is an original.

The PS3 version is in HD, making it quite crisp and vibrant on the TV. In its first form it was quite a feat of computer and sound engineering, but now is available in many formats for free online. The theme music is called “Popcorn,” a catchy tune that unlike a lot of videogame electronic tunage does not get annoying quickly. Older folks will remember the song from decades past.

The game itself does unfortunately resemble Dig Dug quite a bit. You are a miner in a digger/bulldozer rolling around underground in a mine. There are prizes to grab, monsters after you, and instead of pumping them up, you shoot them. Same result. Sound familiar? It does have its own peculiarities, but is just as fun. Not Dig Dug, but still fun.

Barcade and the Frustration of Getting Old

A few months back The Bride and I attended a birthday party for two friends, at a place in the Philadelphia/Fishtown area called Barcade. Barcade is exactly what it sounds like, a bar/arcade. It has a couple dozen old school arcade games, and an assortment of local and obtuse brews, all for a quarter – the games, not the beers, that is.

I was stunned to how close to an arcade of the good old days this place was, what with the variety of games and their placement around the bar area. They even had high scores posted. They had a bar menu, but no fries. But it’s all good, they carded me, the first time that’s happened in years, so I was very happy.

When I looked around at the selection of games, at first I had little interest, then as I walked around, and got a closer look my memory kicked in… I realized I had done time, serious time, with all of them at one point or another in my younger years. Among the games at Barcade: OutRun, Gauntlet, Ms. Pac-Man, Mr. Do!, Golden Axe, Track & Field, Frogger, BurgerTime, Centipede, Double Dragon, Punch-Out!!, Tetris, and Robotron 2084, just to name a few. A full list can be found here.

Spy Hunter, Rampage, Tempest, Dig Dug, Paper Boy, Space Invaders, Galaxian, Joust. I knew them all intimately. And yet I was no longer capable of playing them. The muscles and reflexes honed to each particular set of skills for each game had deteriorated over the years of disuse. Man, playing videogames sure wasn’t like riding a bike, you can’t just get back on. In other words, I was old.

Lead photo by John Donges.

The Better Bloodrayne

I don’t really know all that much about BloodRayne. What I know, other than two terrible movies, and one fantastic fan film starring Vera Vanguard, a review of which can be found here.

Recently I downloaded BloodRayne: Betrayal. I was thinking it would be cool. After all, what’s not cool about a hot chick killing Nazis and vampires, really, it sounds like the perfect game. The problem is, this game is really nothing like that at all. It’s not even as cool as previous BloodRayne games I’ve learned. Older versions of the game were actually similar to Tomb Raider in style, this one is a sidescroller (see, I’m learning the lingo), like Rolling Thunder or Bionic Commando. To me, the novice, this seems like a step backward in evolution. I definitely prefer Lara Croft to this weak 2D anime.

Like many games, I was unable to get very far. The game keeps it simple, half-human half-vampire BloodRayne is recruited by good vampires to fight bad vampires, but apparently not simple enough for me. This game would have been marked for deletion along with the others among The Rejected, had Crystal and Jeff not taken a liking to it.

Jeff, in his usual manner, got on the game and started kicking its ass. He was cruising across this side scroll whupping vampire butt left and right, though mostly right. The vampires good and bad were blowing up like Pookas and Fygars in Dig Dug. Have I mentioned how awesome Jeff is? Well, actually he might not be that great of a gamer, but he can sure make me look bad, not a hard feat.

As far as BloodRayne goes, I think I’m going to stick with Vera Vanguard. Like Jeff, she’s much cooler than this game.

Malibu Grand Prix and the Mystery of Dig Dug

One of the games I have downloaded from the PlayStation Store has been Namco Museum Essentials. Yeah, they’re old arcade games. I figured they would be way more my speed. One of the games included was Dig Dug.

I used to play Dig Dug all the time, probably for the first time at Maibu Grand Prix in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. The big draw was the miniature Indy car raceway in the back, but inside, it was a huge arcade, back in the day when videogames were played in such places. Now it’s just at home on the computer or video console. Us old people did it differently.

Malibu’s been gone for a long time now. They tore it all down and there’s now a medical complex there. Before that, it was closed and abandoned for years. Rumor has it that when they went to demolish it, a body was found on the grounds. Weird. There are still some Mailbu complexes open, in California and Texas, but for the most part, the arcade is a dead thing in our time.

I discovered Malibu in high school. A friend’s mother used to work in the offices nearby and he would pick her up after work every day, and take his brothers and his friends with to play at Malibu while we waited ’til the working whistle blew as they say. Malibu was where I first played a lot of great games, stuff like Star Castle, which I used to be able to play for hours on only a quarter – that was my game, as well as Centipede (though I preferred Millipede), Warlords, Popeye, Galaxian, Qix (another favorite I was very good at), Astro Fighter, Time Pilot, Pac-Man, Zaxxon, and another old favorite, Sinistar – and of course, Dig Dug. Hmmm… I guess I’m really dating myself with that list, huh?

Anyway, as I was playing Dig Dug, and getting my ol’ skillz back after navigating the PS3 controller, I started to wonder about the game. I mean, what the hell is it, really? It’s a guy named Dig Dug, who dresses like an astronaut and digs through the ground… and when he encounters weird creatures and dragons he shoots a hose at them, and inflates them until they explode. That sound about right? Wow. You can not tell me there were not drugs involved in the creation of this game.

After a bit of research (always a dangerous thing to do when you don’t know what you’ll find), I discovered Dig Dug’s real name was Hori Taizo, and he was the father of the guy in the Mr. Driller videogame (never heard of it) and the ex-husband of the heroine from Baraduke (that one either). The creatures are Pookas and Fygars respectively. Collectively they represent a weird incestuous hierarchy in Japanese videogaming. They are everywhere, in dozens of games.

I still got no explanation of what the game actually means. Sometimes a little knowledge, or a lack thereof, is a bad thing. At least it’s fun, and at least I can play it without embarrassing myself…