3, 2, 1, Dig!
It's often difficult to come up with a good, solid concept for a game these days without resorting to the obscure. That said, Taito have made a mint by turning obscure concepts into amusing videogames. Bubble Bobble for instance. The latest product of the company's overactive creative department is Power Diggerz, a game about controlling a digger. This would be easy enough to understand if it weren't for the turtles, beach balls and soup juggling. Published by JVC in the UK and priced reasonably at just £19.99, Power Diggerz will be an essential party game for most PSone owners. To begin with, players have to pass a number of tests to receive their digger license, and these generally consist of manipulating the digger arm to pick things up (gingerly or otherwise), dig things up and smash things. Your ten aptitude tests include driving (quickly and with precision), scooping, digging and flattening. The control system uses both analogue sticks (the wacky, proprietary Power Diggerz controller we saw before Christmas will not be appearing alongside the game sadly), but after a while the system is surprisingly easy to use. You can move the arm up and down, left and right, and move the bucket in or out to scoop things up. Thanks to some of the gentler license tests, getting the hang of this isn't a problem, and before long I had a Gold license. If you don't suck as much as I do, you might get Platinum!
Tools And Time Trials
Adding a little depth to the game, Taito has included three diggers in total, each corresponding to a difficulty level: easy, medium and hard. Although it lacks muscle, the PC30 is a small, capable digger that can move quickly and allows for precise digging, whilst the PC100 is a medium size vehicle that can't keep up with its little brother but has the power to out-lift it. At the top of the chain is the monstrous PC1100, which can rip cars to shreds and wreck buildings in a flash. Unfortunately its brute strength and unwieldy arm make precision digging a lot harder, and players are penalized if they knock down the scenery! The single player game is roughly made up of cute mini games and other digger-related tasks. This is where things start to get a little weird. For instance, one of the eight mini games involves rescuing turtles from a swimming pool. The slippery turtles (including a special golden turtle) have point values, and scoring enough points completes the level. It's possible to use the bucket to pick the little blighters up, but dipping the digger arm in and out of the water is a better method. As you improve you find yourself unlocking various secret mini games and other extras with the money you win, and the game also has a couple of more obscure extras, like a photo gallery and some full motion video surprises. Apart from this you can gain extra Continues and access a bonus Technician mode, which features secret Time Trial tasks called Whack A Mole, Destroy The House, Destroy The Car and Load A Sand Truck. All of which reminded me of those barrel-smashing bonus levels in Street Fighter II.
Graphically Power Diggerz is more than functional. The game surroundings are sparsely detailed and the textures are standard PSone fare, but the diggers themselves are pretty cute (or as cute as a digger can be). The two-player mode is a pleasant distraction, allowing diggers to go at it head-to-head through the various mini games, and a construction kit is also included, allowing you to shape new realms for your digging delights, something which will no doubt please both designers and demolition bods. Although Power Diggerz is a mite easy to complete, the variety of activities and the multiplayer mode should keep you coming back. It's certainly worth £19.99 of your hard earned readies. After all, it's a game about diggers - isn't that what every man wants?