Digger HD

As an asteroid crashes past, blasting into the side of a swooping spaceship, sending sparks, flame and shrapnel in all directions, you realize that you've loaded up the wrong game. Digger is not about explosions, it's not about space, it's not about the story and it's not even about boobs. It is in HD though. Digger is a lovingly recreated arcade classic, featuring (understandably) a digger which can move about in two dimensions across a small level, collecting treasure and avoiding enemies. The aim of the game is simply to defeat every enemy or to collect all available gems, but despite the apparent simplicity, Digger has been brought to the PSN for good reason: it's a superbly addictive little strategy game that easily survives the test of time, especially when it's given a high-definition makeover.

Digger HD

With a choice of D-pad or analog controls for directing your digger, and the inclusion of a Vintage mode, with authentic 1980s graphics, there's great freedom to return to arcade roots or embrace modern technology while still enjoying the same style of gameplay. Like Pacman and Frogger, the levels are small, and an expert player can complete each one in almost no time at all, but the clinical precision and the need for both lightning reflexes and a perfect strategy lend the game more depth than a lot of modern third-person action adventures. A nicely-pitched difficulty curve introduces players to the game gradually, and ramps up the challenge at an even rate. After forty or so levels, players will find themselves stretched by the speed and manoeuvrability of a wide range of enemies. Initially, the greatest challenge will simply be crawling monsters that shuffle along the tunnels you've made, without any ability to create shortcuts. Before long though, crawlers might transform into monkey-like critters with digging ability, posing a far greater threat. Later, enemies increase in speed, charging from one side of the screen to the other, and even learn to shoot at your minimally-armed digger.

Players aren't completely defenceless though. Apart from digging an escape route, players can also create traps by digging tunnels underneath buried objects, like bags of treasure, which (when timed correctly) land on enemies and destroy them. There are also miniature bombs that can be used the same way, but with a more-effective blast radius. Perhaps most importantly though, the digger can fire a single shot (with a slightly uncomfortable recharge delay) which can take out most enemies. Still, with the speed new enemies arrive at the scene, players will have to use every resource to stay alive. This careful balance is a huge ingredient in the success of the game, since no single strategy can be completely effective. In the most tricky levels, every tactic, every trick and every possible devious naughtiness will have to be used to come out on top.

Digger HD

Perhaps the most important facet of Digger though, is the inclusion of co-op modes. This feature was cruelly over-looked for entire generations of gaming, but has seen greater focus in recent years, with major titles like Resistance 2 demonstrating the importance of cooperative play. With two diggers chugging around the screen, things never get too busy, but there's certainly an extra level of frantic fun to proceedings, and strategy becomes even more important. Deciding which direction each player should go, who should take a shot at a particular enemy and when to dislodge treasure all adds to the interest, especially since it's possible to take eachother out with falling bags if planning isn't done carefully. The co-op modes are available for the main game as well as the survival side of things, modes in which players have only one life, and attempt to clear as many levels as possible.

Considering that Digger is just a re-make of a classic, the game is visually quite impressive. There's not much going on, but it has a similar sheen of quality to the tremendous Bionic Commando: Rearmed and other top-notch HD store titles like Super Stardust. Though there's only a small range of level scenarios (desert, ice, etc.) they do look quite pretty, and the animations for the digger and the various enemies are particularly neat. Some of the menus could be a little more informative or jazzed up, but they are adequate for purpose. The inclusion of the Vintage mode does highlight the advances made for this high-definition tribute though.

Digger HD

Despite a relatively basic sound package, with rather unimpressive effects and no need for voicework, the Digger theme is quite catchy, and could take a little while to get truly irritating. Music isn't the game's strongest point, but it's quite entertaining and fits nicely with the action (often ramping up the pace for nervous moments involving tougher enemies, or becoming more chirpy for a clean new level). There are also trophies to extend the life of the game, with a mixture of targets ranging from completing set levels through to performing specific tactical manoeuvres like taking out three enemies in a single move.

Though Digger HD is fairly expensive, this has become the norm for store titles, and it competes well with games of a similar price. The nature of the game lends itself to over-priced downloadable levels in the future, but perhaps the developers will treat gamers fairly with any extras. For fans of the classic game, Digger HD will be a terrific ride down memory lane, while those new to the genre will also find considerable enjoyment in this cute little puzzler. Provided you're not after long cutscenes, stealth sections and open-world gameplay, Digger HD is a fun little store title to try out.

Game details

Game logo

Publisher:

Creat Studios

Developer:

Creat Studios

Players:

1-2

Online:

Rankings

Release:

2009-10-08

Trophies:

16

Review summary

Gameplay:

Clinical, neat, thoroughly enjoyable gameplay

Graphics:

Nice high-definition shine, but simple overall

Sound:

Fun music, but simple effects

Lastability:

A fair few levels to try and artifacts to find

6.7

Aurora

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