Dig Dug

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Killing stuff with an air pump since 1983.
In the early days of coal mining, it was dirty, dangerous work as seen in this sad footage. We lost a lot of good men to inflatable dragons.
"Stop treating me like an old man!"
Taizo Hori, Dig Dug: Digging Strike

Dig Dug was one of Namco's early hits. The objective of the game is for your player (initially just named "Dig Dug", but later changed to Taizo Hori) to dig underground and eliminate all of the monsters on each stage using a special pressure pump to inflate them to bursting. There are two types of foes: Pookas, somewhat harmless round things that bounce around and go about their business, and Fygars, dangerous dragons that can breathe fire. The further down you are when you kill one, the more points you'll receive. Throughout each level, you'll sometimes come across vegetables that will boost your score.

A few sequels to the game have been released (Dig Dug II, the PC-only Dig Dug Deeper, Dig Dug: Digging Strike and Dig Dug Online) as well as a spinoff series in Mr. Driller.

Taizo Hori himself appears in the turn-based strategy RPG Namco X Capcom, his backstory portraying him as a retired soldier who now works as a Digger. His ex-wife Toby "Kissy" Masuyo from Baraduke (who is teamed up with Burning Force's Hiromi Tengenji) is also playable in the same game, still apparently holding a grudge against Taizo. The characters are respectively voiced by Toshio Furukawa (Taizo), Yuko Mizutani (Toby) and Chisa Yokoyama (Hiromi).

Tropes used in Dig Dug include:
  • Balloon Belly: Every freaking enemy.
  • Easier Than Easy: "Teddy bear" difficulty.
  • Fast Tunnelling
  • Idiot Hero: Taizo, in Dig Dug: Digging Strike.
  • Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons.
  • Kill Screen: At a certain level, enemies will start spawning right on top of you, and kill you before you can even move. Repeat until you run out of lives.
    • This happens only if you're experienced enough to make it to level 256 (which, since the game uses only a single byte to keep track of the level, wraps around internally to level 0). The game takes the level number and converts it to a number between 0 and 14. It then multiplies this number to create an offset into the tables that tell the game where to draw the tunnels, rocks and enemies. Since the subroutine was not expecting level 0, it generates an offset that actually points somewhere in the middle of the game's program code instead of the tables. As it turns out, one of the values in that location causes a Pooka to be drawn right on top of Dig Dug. Don Hodges analyzed this bug in detail on his website.
  • Mascot Mook: There's a lot of Pooka merchandise.
  • Musical Gameplay: AND HOW! Only in the classic style games though.
  • Pop Goes the Human
  • Punny Name: Taizo's name is a pun on the Japanese phrase "Horitai zo!" ("I want to dig!").
  • Shared Universe: As mentioned already, this series shares continuity with Baraduke and Mr. Driller.
  • Spin Offspring: Mr. Driller, starring Taizo's son Susumu.
  • Super-Deformed
  • This Is a Drill: In Dig Dug II, your player gets a jackhammer, which can be used to knock out large sections of the island you're on to eliminate multiple enemies at once.
  • Tunnel King: Taizo Hori.
  • Underground Level: Every. Single. Freaking. Level.
  • Waddling Head: The Pookas.