Version tested: Retro
It's no coincidence that some of the most memorable and legendary videogame releases of the past 30 years have been devilishly simple in terms of concept. Pong, Pac-Man, Space Invaders - classics like these are held in high esteem because they kept things simple. That was their strength.
DigDug is another name that can be added to that illustrious list. You dig tunnels, snag baddies with your hose and pump them up until they explode - simple, yet effective, fun. Most importantly it's also painfully addictive. No wonder Namco has re-released this gem of a game several times over the past few decades.
The cheerily sadistic idea of inflating enemies until they burst is appealing enough, but Namco also gave the option of crushing monsters with falling rocks. This was a full two years before Rockford - the star of Boulderdash - would come along and do the same.
Showcasing a gorgeously cute character design as only the Japanese know how, when faced with such technological limitations DigDug is colourful, packed with charm and just as visually appealing today as it was all those years ago. Sitting comfortably alongside other classics like Mappy, Rally-X and Galaga, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand why Namco was such an influential force back in the day.
Nostalgic gushing aside, only the staunchest fan with try to argue that the gameplay is perfect; the fact that enemies can pass from one tunnel to another without having to dig is a minor, yet almost necessary, annoyance (the game would be fair too easy otherwise) and the main character isn't the sprightliest of videogame heroes. You forgive such trifling issues after time, however, as there's just simply much enjoyment contained to hold any permanent grudges.
Namco would later reinvent the digging concept with the equally sublime Mr. Driller, but it's a sad fact that outside of retro compilations and the odd Xbox Live Arcade release, games like DigDug really are a thing of the past.
8 / 10