Dig N Rig is a campy, free game of complex logistics and building

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Dig N Rig is a great free game for Windows created by students at the DigiPen Institute of Technology. It’s all about mining, building, solving puzzles of logic and trying to get to the Earth’s core. Featuring retro 8-bit style graphics and music, it is addictive and quite entertaining from beginning to end.

At first glance, the game is very reminiscent of the old Atari arcade hit Dig Dug, and some of the characters (particularly the player’s) are vaguely similar; but while the cosmetic similarities are stront, Dig N Rig is far more in depth and complex. It successfully contains and mixes elements from such varied games as Lemmings, King Arthur’s Gold, Dig Dug, and other great and famous ones.

The DigiPen Institute of Technology (DIT) is an online university for students of graphic arts and game-building. Their website offers tons of great games that are built by the students and faculty, totally free to download and play. Each of these games tends to have a new idea or a new twist on an old idea, to drive its concept into the Game Gallery, which is where the DIT student game projects are published. One of my favorites on the site is Dig N Rig.

Dig N Rig Screen 1 Dig N Rig Screen 2

Dig N Rig’s concept is that you, the player, are the Diggit 6400, the world’s most advanced mining robot and your goals are to mine valuable materials from the Earth’s core in the year 2032, transport them to the surface, and expand your operations to get every last bit of available loot from the core. The concept is simple and the graphics won’t compare to anything like Bioshock or Crysis, but the gameplay itself is surprisingly complex and offers many hours of enjoyment. As the web page for Dig N Rig says, “Along the way, the player will discover rare fossils, encounter ferocious moles, and reach the center of the Earth!” If that’s not a great call to adventure, I don’t know what is.

Dig N Rig downloads quickly on a broadband connection, coming in at a modest 11MB for the install package. Installation of the package is simple as well, mostly consisting of hitting the NEXT button until it’s finished. Once done, running the program brings up the game window which is possible to run in two sizes: large and small. The large version is better suited for square screens while the smaller version fits on widescreen monitors better. Once you choose one of three save file slots, you’ll be taken to the first point of a tutorial that will take you through the process of digging, mining, transporting, etc.

Dig N Rig Screen 4 Dig N Rig Screen 6

Once you have read the tutorial’s pages, your helper, “Dr. Digertz” will appear in a communication window at the bottom of the screen and begin leading you through the game with bits of advice depending on what you are currently doing in the game. Your eventual goal is to reach the Earth’s core. To do this you will have to mine by moving you Diggit 6400 using the WSAD keys. Diggit automatically mines any materials he comes in contact with, and you’ll need to build ‘rigs’ to convey this material back to your base, where it is combined and converted into “Elements”. These Elements can be used to buy upgrades, new rigs, and other new equipment options to help you reach your eventual goal.

At first, it was difficult to see how I could begin my mission. You’re started out by Dr. Digertz with a modest rig already created for you, and you’ll need to have your mined materials fall onto the conveyer belt at the end of the rig to get them moving toward your base. To do that, you’ll need to press up (w) and jump (space) at the same time to get at the materials directly above the end of the belt. If you don’t do this, you won’t have any material to build more rigs so it’s the best way I found to start out. Once you’ve gotten started with that initial load of materials, though, you’ll be mining all over the place and building new elements of your rig like a pro in moments. I found it strangely satisfying to watch these little circles and squares moving along my rig and being deposited into my base, and though I could not explain why it was so much fun, there was not a sliver of doubt that it was, in fact, loads and loads of fun (no mining pun intended).

Dig N Rig Screen 5  Dig N Rig Screen 3

The graphics for Dig N Rig are 2D, side-scrolling, and rather pixelated. Rather than seeming ‘substandard’ in any way, however, they come off more as campy and kitsch, a throwback to those great games of yesteryear. There’s an overall feel and impression, however, that it was designed to be campy, quite successfully. The gameplay is rather complex, and that is really where Dig N Rig shines. I quickly found myself immersed in the logic puzzles of figuring out how to get my materials up to the base, building the right rigging, and before I knew it, I had spent two blissful hours playing and totally forgetting about time. To me, that’s a mark of a great game, no matter how ‘old’ the graphics may appear. The concept is simple, the gameplay addictive, and the price tag is perfect. Add to that the fact that this game (and all the other great games at DIT’s website) is created by students, and Dig N Rig comes out as a winner in my book.

Until next time, my friends.

[Thanks go to reader Panzer for the tip about this game].

Get Dig N Rig and tons of other great games here