Lost In Translation/Dig Dug

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This page is a stub for arcade games that are part of the Lost In Translation series using information based on MAME (version 0.113u2).
For an example of preferred content and layout please refer to Out Run or The Ninja Warriors.

Dig Dug
Dig Dug marquee.
No screen shot.
Dig Dug control panel.
Manufacturer Namco
Released 1982
4-way Joystick
1 Button(s)
Main CPU (3x) Z80 (@ 3.072 MHz)
Sound CPU Mono
Namco (@ 96.000 kHz)
Raster (Vertical)
288 x 224 pixels
60.61 Hz
544 Palette colours
Screens 1
ROM Info 21 ROMs
58,400 bytes (57.03 KiB)
MAME ID digdug · digduga1 · digdugat · digdugb · dzigzag

About The Game

Dig Dug is a maze-style arcade video game where the screen shows a cutaway view of the land, most of which is below ground. The player controls the Dig Dug character who travels through and digs tunnels in the dirt. The object is for Dig Dug to destroy monsters by pumping them up or dropping rocks on them and to capture vegetables.

The characters are Dig Dug and 2 monsters - one is a round, orange monster with goggles called Pooka, the other is a green, fire-breathing dragon named Fygar. The underground area is divided into 4 different colored layers of dirt. Rocks are scattered in the dirt. The sky is at the top of the screen.

The player controls Dig Dug, the hero of the garden, clad in white. He moves through horizontal and vertical tunnels. When Dig Dug digs new tunnels he moves slowly. When he is on the surface or in an existing tunnel, he moves faster. The object of the game is for Dig Dug to destroy all the monsters and go to the next round.

Monsters are trapped in caves. A monster may get out of a cave two ways. Dig Dug may dig him out. Then, the monster chases Dig Dug. The monster may also get out of the cave by turning into a ghost. As a ghost, he cannot be destroyed. The ghost does not travel in the tunnels. He travels through the dirt, and can travel diagonally. However, he reappears as the monster when he goes into a tunnel.

The monsters move faster than Dig Dug in vertical tunnels and slower on the surface. They destroy Dig Dug by catching him. In addition, Fygar can destroy Dig Dug by breathing fire on him. Fygar can only breathe fire horizontally. The fire can penetrate the dirt.

Dig Dug destroys the monsters by pumping them up until they burst, or by causing rocks to drop on them. To pump up and destroy a monster, the player presses and holds down the pump button. It is possible to stun a monster for a few seconds by pressing the pump button once or twice. While a monster is stunned, Dig Dug may pass over him without being destroyed. If 2 monsters are very close together, only one may be stunned. The other will catch and destroy Dig Dug.

Dig Dug must dig tunnels under the rocks to get them to drop. A rock may fall in a vertical or horizontal tunnel. A rock also goes through a thin layer of dirt from one tunnel to the next. In a vertical tunnel, Dig Dug may stay directly under a rock and it will not drop. However, in a horizontal tunnel, Dig Dug must move out from under a rock right away, or he will be crushed.

After two rocks are dropped, a vegetable (worth extra points, see Scoring below) appears in a tunnel in the center of the screen. Dig Dug has 10 seconds to capture (touch) the vegetable or it will disappear. There is only one vegetable per round.

The game progresses by rounds. Round 1 starts with four monsters (one Fygar and three Pookas) and three rocks. The vegetable is a carrot. One flower on the surface (top right of the screen) represents Round 1. Two flowers represent Round 2, etc. As the rounds progress, the monsters move a little faster, and are better at avoiding falling rocks. In each round, the last monster tries to escape. If he is not caught by Dig Dug, he exits on the surface (top left).

The game ends when all of Dig Dug's lives are used up. A player may continue to play at the beginning of the same round (level) by following instructions on the screen. He has 16 seconds to insert a coin(s). Then he must push and hold the pump and start buttons at the same time.


Released in April 1982.

Licensed to Atari (May 1982). Approximately 12,200 units were produced by Atari.

Introduced in 1982, Dig Dug was a shining addition to the golden age of video games. Dig Dug's charming world and innovative game play made it an instant classic.

The main character of Dig Dug has a name in Japan, 'Taizo Hori', a pun based on the phrase 'Horitai zo', or 'I want to dig!'. He is believed to be the father of "Mr. Driller".

A Place In Video Game History

During the golden age of video games we saw a lot of novel approaches to gaming, said Chris Lindsey, director of the National Video Game and Coin-Op Museum in St. Louis. "Tempest", for instance, required things of its players that we'd never seen in a video game before. You had to learn a whole new set of skills to further the game experience. Dig Dug is another game that provided a novel approach. The types of movement you had to learn, the skills you had to develop, were like none other up until that point. And this game play was combined with a really engaging subject matter, which was this guy, Dig Dug, who digs around underground after subterranean monsters, and who explodes them with a really bizarre weapon, an air pump! There was just this string of interesting, engaging things for the viewer to look at and experience while dealing with this new type of game. It really captured, and still captures, the imagination. The sounds in Dig Dug are also really distinctive. When people hear that music start to play here at the museum, they'll laugh with recognition. It's quite funny watching people play that game.

The Great 25-cent Escape

Lindsey enjoys seeing visitors to his museum discover a video game that rekindles memories from earlier years, "They'll say, 'Wow, I used to be great at this!' And then they'll adopt their old game-playing position -- which seems to vary almost randomly from person to person," Lindsey said. "They drop a token in, start rolling, and then they will lose all sense of time and space, becoming completely immersed in the game. Often they'll start laughing. I had a guy yesterday who was so funny. He came in and had obviously played these video games quite a bit in years past, like many of us did. He wandered around the museum, going from game to game, and he just laughed hysterically as he remembered all the little details of each game that he had spent so much time on, so long ago."

Namco Notes After The Release Of Dig Dug In 1982

Namco engineers went to arcades to watch their new game being played. They noticed that "there were two completely separate groups of people. One group enjoyed blowing the enemy up with the pump. The other group enjoyed beating the enemy by dropping rocks on them".

Dig Dug was NOT the first game that Atari licensed from Namco, as is common belief. That honor goes to F-1, the "3-D" racing game that projected a race track on a screen using a rolling film. Hardly anybody in Atari coin-op liked Dig Dug except for Brian McGhie (who later joined Starpath) and Owen Rubin. It was McGhie who added the finishing touches to Dig Dug. Rubin still owns an upright prototype cabinet of Dig Dug with hand-drawn artwork, and still considers it one of his favorite games of all time.

Dwayne Richard holds the official record for this game with 4,211,920 points on June 25, 1985.

A bootleg of this game is known as "Zig Zag". Another bootleg running on the "Galaxian" hardware was made by LAX as "Zigzag".

A Dig Dug unit appears in 1983 min movie 'WarGames'.

Former Atari game designer Owen Rubin owns an upright prototype of Dig Dug with hand-drawn art. The ROMs in his prototype are the actual production ROMs.

Alfa Records released a limited-edition soundtrack album for this game (Video Game Music - YLC-20003) on 25/04/1984.

Alfa Records released a limited-edition soundtrack album for this game (The Best Of Video Game Music - 32XA-66) on 25/04/1986.

In 1982, Atari released a set of 12 collector pins including : "Missile Command", "Battle Zone", "Tempest", "Asteroids Deluxe", "Space Duel", "Centipede", "Gravitar", "Dig Dug", "Kangaroo", "Xevious", "Millipede" and "Food Fight".


The background graphics are slightly different in the Atari version, the earth is less regular.


Scoring in this game is relatively complicated due to the dirt layer a monster is at and also how you kill said monster. In addition, you even get points for "eating" dirt.

Over-inflating (Bursting) Monsters
Layer Monster Points
1 Pooka 200
1 Fygar 400
2 Pooka 300
2 Fygar 600
3 Pooka 400
3 Fygar 800
4 Pooka 500
4 Fygar 1000

NOTE : If you over-inflate a Fygar vertically, you only will get 1/2 the listed points (same points as a Pooka on that layer). This is due to the fact you aren't risking your life dealing with Fygar's flame breath.

Dropping Rocks On Monsters
Monsters Crushed Points
1 1000
2 2500
3 4000
4 6000
5 8000
6 10,000
7 12,000
8 15,000

Points For Collecting Prizes
Round Prize Points
1 Carrot 400
2 Rutabaga 600
3 Mushroom 800
4 & 5 Cucumber 1000
6 & 7 Eggplant 2000
8 & 9 Bell Pepper 3000
10 & 11 Tomato 4000
12 & 13 Onion 5000
14 & 15 Watermelon 6000
16 & 17 Galaxian 7000
18 and Above Pineapple 8000

When you are digging a new tunnel, you get 10 points per 5/8 inch dug.

Tips and tricks

  • Get many monsters to follow you. Then dig a long vertical tunnel up to a rock. Drop the rock by digging right or left.
  • Dig Dug may take extra time to turn. It is better to start turning early than to wait until the last second.
  • Destroy monsters at bottom dirt level for more points.
  • Use PUMP to stun monsters. Then you may escape or walk through them.
  • Don't stop next to Fygar when he is in a cave. His fire can go through a thin layer of dirt and destroy you.
  • A vegetable appears after 2 rocks have been dropped. So be sure to drop two rocks in each round.
  • When you start the game, Dig Dug will dig a downward vertical shaft into a chamber. The floor of this chamber is the top of the third layer. It is your job to dig tunnels and keep the monsters busy. This won't be an easy task since the monsters will attempt to surround Dig Dug and permanently end his mining career. You will have a two second delay before the round starts. It shows Dig Dug digging his vertical tunnel down to his starting area. Take this time to see where all the monsters are and figure out the best course of action to take them out.
  • Knowing the behavior of the monsters is a crucial element of this game. Pookas travel a bit faster then Dig Dug and tend to run him down. Fygars don't have the speed but they make up for it with their fiery belch.
  • Dig Dug travels slower when he is busy carving tunnels.
  • Know the rules of dropping rocks :
  1. Rocks will wobble for about a second before they drop.
  2. Rocks drop immediately when you cut a horizontal tunnel under them.
  3. In vertical tunnels, the rock will stay in place as long as Dig Dug is facing it and moving.
  4. When you drop two rocks, the prize will appear.
  • Don't waste your rocks on only one monster. Try to get as many monsters crushed as possible. The best way to accomplish this is :
  1. Try to dig long, vertical tunnels under the rocks. Don't dig all the way to the rock or you will waste it.
  2. Try to get the monsters to follow you. Sort of a follow the leader type thing up that vertical tunnel. This will be especially important in the later rounds.
  3. If the monsters are spread out a little, do a couple of pumps on the monster that is close. This will only stun it and allow the others to catch up.
  4. Right before they get Dig Dug, dig the rest of the way then head off left or right. The long, vertical shaft will prevent their escape and get you big points.
  • After level 12, the screens repeat in waves of four. There are patterns for these levels. Also, after level 36, all of the enemies will speed up. The game does not award extra man after 900,000 points; the score will simply flip over at 1,000,000. It is very easy to get a score of 999,990 by eating dirt for ten points per section. At level 256, the game begins with a Pooka on top of the player character. Since there is no way to escape, the game is basically over, no matter how many lives the player may have left.
  • Avoid killing the monsters by bursting them. If you don't have a choice, try to do in the lower layers since you get more points that way.
  • The pump is better utilized as a delay mechanism. Inflating a monster with two pumps will immobilize it for about two seconds. With two monsters, you can pump one up, move back a little and pump the other one up.
  • Monsters can be released from their pens in one of two ways :
  1. You open up their pen by digging it open.
  2. They turn into 'ghosts'. While they are ghosts, Pookas appear only as goggles, and Fygars appear as a set of evil eyes and a mouth. They will rematerialize as soon as they get into a tunnel.
  • Watch out for the fiery breath of Fygar. They not only can let loose down a horizontal tunnel, they also can send their fire through thin layers of dirt. The best defense when caught in a horizontal tunnel with a Fygar is to immediately go up or down to avoid their breath.
  • The Pookas have a tendency to try to surround Dig Dug. Usually they will try to trap him from the front and behind. Watch the Pooka 'ghosts' to make sure that they are not heading toward an area that you are currently tunneling in.
  • It is possible to find patterns for the different levels, but it also is difficult since there isn't a well-defined maze to work with (like in "Pac-Man").
  • When there is one monster left, it will attempt to escape rather then continue to pursue Dig Dug. You can chase him to get the points or let him go. Regardless, the game will advance to the next round.
  • In the later rounds, it is much more profitable to collect the fruit then try to drop rocks on the monsters since they move so quickly.
  • 'Eat Dirt' secret - you should try this before round 36 since everything speeds up:
  1. Get the game down to two Pookas. If you only leave one, it will escape thus ending the round.
  2. This works best in horizontal tunnels under the rocks.
  3. Get a Pooka to follow you, inflate as necessary to delay him a little.
  4. Right when you are next to the rock, inflate the Pooka once to just delay him. When he moves at your character again, move under the rock.
  5. Quickly turn around and start pumping the Pooka up. Using the delay of the rock dropping, you should be able to cause the Pooka to burst at the same time the rock drops on him.
  6. If you are successful, then the other Pooka will disappear and you can amuse yourself digging out tunnels all day long in the dirt. To return the game back to normal, drop another rock and you will go into the next round.

Easter Egg

  1. Enter service mode.
  2. Keep B1 pressed and enter the following sequence : Up(x6), Right(x3), Down(x4), Left(x8).
  3. '(c) 1982 NAMCO LTD.' will appear on the screen.


  1. Dig Dug (1982)
  2. Dig Dug II (1985)
  3. Dig Dug Deeper (2001, PC CD-ROM)
  4. Dig Dug - Digging Strike (2005, Nintendo DS)


Music By
Yuriko Keino

Cabinet and Artwork


Colecovision (1983)
Atari 2600 (1983)
Atari 5200 (1983)
Atari 7800 (1984)
Atari XEGS
Nintendo Famicom (1985)
Mattel Intellivision (1987)
Nintendo Famicom Disk (1990)
Nintendo Game Boy (1992)
Sony PlayStation (1996, "Namco Museum Vol.2")
Nintendo 64 (1999, "Namco Museum 64")
Sega Dreamcast (1999, "Namco Museum")
Sony PlayStation 2 (2001, "Namco Museum")
Nintendo GameCube (2002, "Namco Museum")
Microsoft XBOX (2002, "Namco Museum")
Sony PlayStation 2 (2005, "Namco Museum 50th Anniversary")
Microsoft XBOX (2005, "Namco Museum 50th Anniversary")
Nintendo GameCube (2005, "Namco Museum 50th Anniversary")
Nintendo Game Boy Advance (2005, "Namco Museum 50th Anniversary")
Sony PSP (2005, "Namco Museum Battle Collection")
Microsoft XBOX 360 (2006, as a downloadable Live Arcade game)
Atari 800 (1982)
Commodore C64 (1982)
Commodore VIC-20 (1983)
PC [Booter] (1983)
Apple II (1984)
Texas Instruments TI-99/4A (1983)
Fujitsu FM-7 (1984)
MSX (1984)
Fujitsu FM-77AV (1986)
Sharp X68000 (1995)
PC [MS Windows 95, 3.5"] (1995, "Microsoft Return of Arcade")
PC [MS Windows, CD-ROM] (2000, "Microsoft Return of Arcade 20th Anniversary")
PC [MS Windows, CD-ROM] (2005, "Namco Museum 50th Anniversary")
VFD handheld game (19??) released by Gakken.
Arcade (1996, "Namco Classics Collection Vol.2")
Namco Classics TV Game (2003 - Jakk's Pacific)
Mobile Phones (2005)

Soundtrack Releases

Album Name Catalogue No. Released Publisher Comments
Video Game Music YLR-20003[1] 1984-04-25 Alfa Vinyl version.
The Return of Video Game Music ALC-22004[2] 1985-06-25 Alfa Cassette version.
The Best of Video Game Music 32XA-66[3] 1986-04-25 Alfa CD version.
Namcot Game a la Mode VDR-1285[4] 1986-09-21 Victor Musical Industries CD version.
Namco Video Game Graffiti VDR-1165[5] 1986-03-21 Victor CD version.
Video Game Music YLC-20003[6] 1984-04-25 Alfa Cassette version.
Video Game Music SCDC-00003[7] 2001-03-23 Scitron Digital Content, Inc. CD version.
Namco Video Game Graffiti VCH-10334[8] 1986-03-21 Victor Cassette version.
Namco Video Game Graffiti SJX-30291[9] 1986-03-21 Victor Vinyl version.
Namcot Game a la Mode SJX-30312[10] 1986-09-21 Victor Musical Industries Vinyl version.
Namcot Game a la Mode VCH-10365[11] 1986-09-21 Victor Musical Industries Cassette version.
765 MEGA-MIX APCG-4014[12] 1991-07-21 APOLLON CD version.
NAMCO Classic Collection Techno Maniax PCCG-00440[13] 1998-02-18 Pony Canyon, Inc. CD version.
The Return of Video Game Music ALR-22004[14] 1985-06-25 Alfa Vinyl version.
The Return of Video Game Music SCDC-00122[15] 2001-12-05 Scitron Digital Content CD version.
Namco Best Hit Parade! VDRY-25023[16] 1989-11-21 Victor Entertainment Inc. CD version.
Namco Best Hit Parade! VICL-5038[17] 1990-11-07 Victor Entertainment Inc. CD version.
Namco Classics Collection Vol. 2 Arcade Soundtrack 012 WSCA-00012[18] 1998-02-18 Wonder Spirits CD version.
Arcade Ambiance 1983 N/A[19] 2003-01-01 Andy Hofle Digital download only.
Game Sound Museum ~Namcot~ S1 Dig Dug/ Dig Dug II SDEX-0050[20] 2004-12-23 Scitron CD version.
Famison 8BIT - iDOLM@STER 04 Makoto Kikuchi / Yukiho Hagiwara FVCG-1014[21] 2008-05-28 5bp. Records CD version.


The contents of this page are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
The sources used include MAME (version 0.113u2) and history.dat (revision 1.28 - 2008-10-18).
Please see http://www.arcade-history.com for credits.