The pump stall
Having two or more Pookas on your tail can present you with a problem: if you try to explode one Pooka, the next one in line will pass right through his inflated friend and kill you. The problem is that your pump line remains hooked to the first Pooka, and the other Pooka is not affected by your pumping. The solution is to turn away from the first Pooka, breaking the connection, and instantly turn back and start pumping again. Your renewed pumping action will affect the closest Pooka. Meanwhile, the other Pooka will be immobile, until he has completely deflated. Repeating this process one or more times may keep Dig Dug safer while defeating the enemies, but you should not rely on this too much on the later rounds.
The rocks are a great asset, once you understand how to use them. Some important observations about the fine art of rock-dropping follow:
- Never turn down after passing under a rock; it will fall on your back. (You will still receive the points for any enemies crushed by the rock).
- You can hold a rock in place by staying directly under it. Wait there until a Pooka or Fygar comes up from below, move to either side, and the rock will crush him (unless you have dug to the left or right close to their position, which will give them a chance to step out of its way).
- Rocks can fall through thin walls of dirt, so you can drop a rock on a Pooka or Fygar without ever entering his cave at the start of a round.
- Pookas and Fygars will sidestep a falling rock if they can. Try to time your drop so that there isn't an escape route for the intended victim.
- As shown in the image to the right, you should dig long vertical tunnels under the rocks. Make sure you do not dig to the left or right as you carve the tunnel - that will allow the Pooka or Fygar to just escape the falling rock when it is dropped, as mentioned up in point two.
Be greedy near the end
When time is running out, and the last Pooka or Fygar heads for the surface, you should grab whatever points you can. This may mean eating the vegetable bonus, or waiting on the surface for the fleeing enemy. If you are too far from the surface to get there in time, just keep burrowing and score a few extra "dirt points". These free points can make a difference - because the next time your game ends ten points short of an extra life, you will probably wish you had been more greedy, especially if the arcade operator disabled the continue feature, and you cannot try again.
The great escape
Unlike almost any other maze game, Dig Dug provides you with a way out of the seemingly hopeless predicament of being stuck between two approaching enemies. One possibility of course is to simply burrow away to the side. But if there is not enough time for that, or you are stuck against a rock or the edge of the screen, you can still escape; just go through one of them. Hit an enemy up to three times with the pump button, and you can pass through him, as long as you do it before he deflates. This trick comes in handy very often - do not forget it.
To beat any round of Dig Dug, one must take advantage of the artificial intelligence. One way to do this is to dig out either left or right from the starting position, dig up a short way from your starting position, turn around and continue digging out your initial tunnel, then go up again (this time further away from your start position) until you are higher than the end of your first vertical tunnel. Continue from here in the opposite direction of the direction you went at the beginning of the level, until you have almost reached the vertical tunnel that exists before you start any given level of the game. Create a thin wall between you and the vertical tunnel, and pump the enemies up as they pass by - but watch out, as the Fygars can still burn you.
Free digging secret
- Get the round down to two Pookas (given that the Fygars possess the ability to burn you through thin walls). If you only leave one, he will escape and therefore end the round.
- Get one of the Pookas to follow you, and inflate him up to three times with the pump button to delay him a little as you make your way towards a rock (if there are any rocks left).
- Right when you are next to the rock, inflate the Pooka once with the pump button to just delay him. When he starts moving towards you again, you should move under the rock.
- 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.
- If you are successful, then the other Pooka will disappear and you can dig out tunnels all day long in the dirt. You will not proceed on to the next round until you drop a second rock.
- Score: As with most of the other early Namco 8-bit arcade games, once you have made it to 999,990 points, your score will roll over to 0. No additional extra lives will be awarded now.
- Flowers: The flowers that indicate the rounds on the surface of the ground will stop updating at round 69, but the indicator at the bottom of the screen will continue updating until round 99 before rolling over to round 0. At this point there will be no flowers. Once you have made it to round 101, the flowers will update again until you reach round 256 (is the "kill screen").
- Slow enemies: In the original arcade versions of the game by Namco, the Pookas and Fygars will slow down once you have made it to round 124, and again once you have made it to round 136. This reduction in speed will continue every twelve rounds, until you reach round 256 (which, as mentioned above, is the "kill screen" - and is described in full detail below).
- Kill screen: In the original Namco versions of the game, the game has a "kill screen" on round 256, which is registered by the game as round 0. The round starts with a Pooka directly on top of Dig Dug, which will cause the player to lose all of his remaining lives very quickly. The Atari revisions of the game (which changed the logo on the titles) correct this problem.