You control Dig Dug through the underground with the joystick. You must avoid contact with every Pooka and Fygar, as well as their ghosts, and the Fygars' fire. You must destroy every Pooka and Fygar to advance to the next round. Press the pump button to connect to an enemy and pump them full of air until they pop. Enemies that are full of air, but didn't pop, begin to deflate. They are safe to pass through. Drop rocks on enemies to crush them for extra points, but don't get crushed by the rock as well. After dropping two rocks, a vegetable appears in the center of the screen. Collect it for bonus points. When the music speeds up, any remaining enemies will try to escape the stage through the left side above ground (though in higher levels, if there are remaining Fygars they will chase after and try to kill Dig Dug). If the last enemy escapes, the game will simply proceed to next stage.
- Joystick: Use the 4-way joystick to make Dig Dug traverse through the tunnels and dig new ones. Dig Dug can move freely through the underground, but can only make ninety degree turns at particular points along an invisible grid that defines the layout of the stage. He may not pass from one side of the screen to the other.
- Pump: Press this button to launch Dig Dug's pump in the direction that he is facing. If an enemy is within range of the hose, it will connect and latch on to the enemy. Then tap or hold the pump button to fill the enemy with air until he pops. Tapping it is generally faster than holding it. You must completely pump an enemy until he explodes, or he will begin to deflate.
- 1 or 2 Player Buttons: Push these buttons to begin a one or two player game.
Dig Dug (Taizo Hori) is the hero of the game. He must defend each of his gardens from the underground dwellers who wish to destroy them. Armed with an air pump and his endless ability to dig through the dirt, he must carve out his own path to the enemies and pump them full of air until they explode. Dig Dug's pump is actually capable of passing through a very thin wall of dirt to strike enemies on the other side. He can also take advantage of the rocks scattered through the dirt and use them to crush one enemy or several enemies at once. Dig Dug is vulnerable to the touch of his enemies, the flame breath of a Fygar, or the weight of a moving rock (he can rest underneath one indefinitely until it starts to move). In order to advance to the next stage, Dig Dug must clear every enemy from the stage. When only one enemy is left, it will cowardly attempt to escape on the surface and to the left side of the screen. If the enemy escapes, the game will proceed to the next stage, and the potential points will simply be lost.
The name Taizo Hori is a play on the phrase Horitai zo, which means I want to dig!
Pookas can best be described as tomato-red balloons, with yellow goggles. Nobody is really quite certain what a Pooka is, but one thing is for sure; it's deadlier than it looks. The Pookas are slightly faster than Dig Dug. They seek to get closer to Dig Dug and will occasionally switch to a ghost form that allows them to move through solid dirt. As a ghost, it takes the form of its yellow goggles. A Pooka in ghost form is just as lethal as a Pooka in solid form. Pookas are easily dispatched by Dig Dug's pump from any direction, and are worth 200 to 500 points based on layer.
Fygars are fire-breathing dragons that also seek Dig Dug out. Their fire-breathing adds an extra element of danger when Dig Dug confronts these green beasts. They behave like Pookas in almost every respect, although they are not as fast. They too can become ghosts and pass effortlessly through dirt. As ghosts, they appear as a pair of eyes and a mouth. As they pass through tunnels, they will occasionally pause and flash once or twice before letting out a huge fiery blast to the left or to the right (but never up or down). Just as Dig Dug can shoot through a thin wall of dirt, so too can Fygars breathe fire through thin walls. In higher levels, when there are a few remaining Fygars they will chase after and try to kill Dig Dug instead of trying to escape (this is warned by a dramatic music clip followed by the music speeding up). Because of the danger they present when facing them from the right or left, their point value doubles compared to blowing them up from above or below. They are worth 200 to 1000 points based on their layer and position.
Rocks are Dig Dug's environmental tools against his enemies. By digging a tunnel just beneath a rock, gravity will loosen the rock and cause it to fall to the ground. This will only start to happen once Dig Dug himself moves out from under the rock. Until such time, he can wait underneath the rock for as long as he likes. Once he moves away and the rock starts to jitter, stand clear because it's going to fall. Whether it falls a long distance, or the height of just one tunnel, it break apart and disappears. Any enemies caught in the path of the rock as it plummets gets squashed for bonus points. Dropping any two rocks on a given stage will make the vegetable bonus appear at the central starting position of the stage, but you will have to be quick as it will only remain for a few seconds.
On every stage, there are four differently colored layers of dirt. The lower the layer that an enemy is killed in, the more points you'll receive. The Fygars are also worth more horizontally.
|Layer||Pooka / Fygar vertically||Fygar horizontally|
|Ground or 1st||200||400|
The score received for crushing enemies with a rock depends on the number of enemies killed. You will still receive the bonus points if you are crushed by a rock, but you will lose a life.