You play as Dig Dug (who is also known as Taizo Hori in other games that he appears in), a pump wielding spelunker who faces several enemies while he digs underground. The object of each level (or board) is to clear it of all of the enemies before they kill you by walking to within a set distance and pushing the button to fill the up with air until they explode. Another more strategic way to dispatch your enemies would be to dig underneath boulders that are located on each level and drop them on to to enemies that are below them. It could be argued that this was one of the first major acts of violence in a video game, but due to it's cartoon like nature it was probably overlooked at the time. The original game was released into arcades by Namco in 1982, and contained the standard (at the time) of 256 levels before you reached a "kill screen" and the game either froze up or reset itself.
Another source of scoring points throughout the game is the inclusion of a fruit or item in the center of the screen that would appear after dropping two of the levels boulders. This mechanic is very similar to another Namco game series, Pac-Man. The boulders did not have to drop on enemies for the fruits to appear however. The bonus items include : Carrot, Turnip, Zucchini (or Cucumber), Eggplant, Green Pepper, Tomato, Garlic, Watermelon, Pineapple, as well as the inclusion of a Warship from Namco's Galaxian.
Pooka: Best described as a round orange ball with aviator goggles, Pooka is the most common enemy that you will face in the game. Not as overly aggressive as his counter part, he as well as Fygar still has the ability to pass through the un-dug parts of the dirt in each level to attack you from any angle.
Fygar: A dragon-like creature, not only can he pass through the dirt and attack you but also has the ability to breathe fire, making him a decidedly more difficult and deadly enemy.
Dig-Dug is considered to be a classic and has spawned many sequels and has appeared on many compilations and game download services since its initial release. The character of DIg-Dug also has a son named Susumu Hori ( that appears in the Mr. Driller series), continuing the family legacy of digging to the depths of the earth.
Downloading and playing the demo of the XBLA version unlocks a Gamerpic.
When the Game Boy version was released in 1993 Electronic Gaming Monthly awarded the game scores of 6,6,6, and 5. They stated, "...the game play is intact and the graphics are decent for GB standards. A few new features [are] thrown in for a little variety and you have a solid little GB cart that's great for long road trips".