Donkey Kong and Dig Dug | Early Arcade History

Ms Pac Man wasn’t the only sequel to an arcade machine produced in 1982. Donkey Kong Junior is the successor to Donkey Kong (1981) and follows the plot soon after the events in the original game.

The story follows Donkey Kong Junior (DK JR/ Donkey Kong Jr) who is the son of Donkey Kong. Mario, protagonist of the 1981 game, has captured DK and caged him as punishment for stealing Pauline (Mario’s girlfriend). DK JR’s mission is to save his father and get past the enemies and obstacles that can be found within the game play. This is the only title where Mario is portrayed primarily as the antagonist.

There were four different levels to DK JR, where the player controlled JR himself through being able to run left and right and has the ability to climb up and slide down vines/ chains and ropes. The ultimate aim of the first three stages, was for Donkey Kong Junior to collect the key located at the top of the level. Furthermore, in the fourth stage, the player must push six keys into locks to free Donkey Kong. Once this had been achieved the player was put back to the first level to restart the game with a higher level of difficulty. Within the game play, players can lose a life if touched by an enemy, falls from a height or runs out of time. Similar to its predecessor, Donkey Kong Junior inherited the infamous kill-screen, deeming the game unplayable at level 22.

Dig Dug (1982)

Namco’s Dig Dug has been rated as the 6th most popular coin operated video game of all time. Likewise, the game is praised for the innovative gameplay and the range of new skills that the player had to learn at the time of release. In 1984, a limited edition soundtrack of the game was released by Alfa Records.

Dig Dug is known for its novel theme and art-style. The player controls the protagonist Dig Dug (Taizo Hori in Japan) who is said to be the father of Mr Driller (Mr Driller 1999). The goal of the game is to eliminate the two type of monsters: Pookas and Fygars. Pookas are round, red monsters with yellow glasses; and Fygars are green dragons that can breathe fire. These enemies can be killed through two methods. Which are to either drop a rock onto a monster, or to inflate them with an air-pump until they explode.

If the player’s preferred method was to inflate the monster, the air pump needed to be pumped four times for the monster to explode, making it so partially inflated monsters can deflate within a number of seconds. However, this could have been a tactile move from the player, as half inflated monsters are stunned for a few seconds the player can drop a rock on them. Moreover, players can pass through stunned enemies. Dig Dug could have been killed or lose a life if he was caught by either of his enemies, burnt by Fygar’s fire or has a rock dropped on him.

In terms of points, there were many methods for the player gaining these throughout the various levels. For example, the player would get awarded points for mining a single block and the more points were awarded when an enemy from the lower levels of the screen were killed. Another example was that Fygar’s could be worth double points if exploded on a horizontal tunnel. Finally, another method would be to collect the bonus items that appear on the screen at certain points in each level.

The bonus items can appear when two rocks are dropped in a row, whether they hit an enemy or not. Usually these items are fruit or vegetables, however, in the 16th and 17th rounds a Galaxian ship can be rewarded to the player.

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