Developer: NAMCO BANDAI Games America Inc.
Price: $2.99 Download on the App Store
Dig Dug Remix - When a big-name developer appears in the App Store with a "classic" game, I often find they are pedaling their "new" version of an existing game made available on — but not necessarily made for — iPhone. For this reason, I don’t necessarily subscribe to the “bigger is better” mentality, even though some giants have managed to maintain their reputation.
In the case of Namco’s Dig Dug Remix, I was fairly optimistic – after all Dig Dug is a great game. Hard as it may be for some developers to make a good transition of a classic arcade game to the iPhone and iPod touch platform, many have been successful. I don’t often agree with the majority of user reviews posted in the app store, but from what I’ve read on this particular app, I am in complete agreement about one thing. It’s rather a disappointment.
Dig Dug Remix is a two-fer app. You get the classic arcade game Dig Dug and you get a remixed version of the game with modern graphics and different power ups, a map of various worlds, and the option to play in two modes. Great idea, but I don’t care. The biggest problem Dig Dug Remix has is crucial to its success and it’s the controls. The onscreen D-pad is tiny. Sure, so are the versions that appear in other games using similar control, but the Dig Dug Remix D-pad borders on ridiculous. Even if you could overcome the awkwardness of the size of the D-pad, the response is unacceptable. Even when the arrow indicates a change of direction, Dig Dug himself doesn’t respond immediately.
As far as game play, you get the same arcade game right down to the enemy Pookas and Fygars and the remix version features some new bosses. I admit I can’t remember if there were so many ear-splitting shrill trills accompanying the original, and though I’ve aged enough to find them annoying now, I believe the original sound effects are in tact.
I could easily rave about other aspects of Dig Dug Remix, such as making the transition to iPhone so fluidly or the creation of a remixed version with good graphics and added fun, but ultimately, it all comes down to controls. Though you do have the option of switching controls from “arrow keys” (translation - onscreen D-pad) to “flick,” it makes little difference as “flick” is an equally obtrusive form of controlling Dig Dug and is unnatural feeling anyway.
I can’t think what the excuse would be here. After all, Pac-Man is also Namco and his controls don’t reek of unresponsive uselessness. Weren’t all these early classics controlled in much the same way? They also didn’t even bother to take advantage of the iPhone’s ability to recognize orientation preference, but rather force you into portrait mode for Classic and landscape for Remix.
If Namco had even so much as offered a lite version of Dig Dug Remix for free, just so users could test it out before they shelled out six bucks, I would have chastised it much less. After all, this is Namco we're talking about. As it is, it feels like they are relying on nostalgia to get the best of users – along with their money. And well, I'm just not diggin' that.