Saturday, March 24, 2012


Ahh, Digger!  

To my memory, this was perhaps the first game that we EVER booted up on our home PC in about 1984.  

Dad bought a computer.  He NEVER used computers.  I never saw him sitting in front of it that I can remember.   But he ran a business, and it was doing well.  He made buildings.  So of course he needed a computer.

Like me, dad has always likes toys.  (He's currently building a model railway.)

The main thing I remember about dad was that he'd head off in the morning in a suit with his black beard on his face, and come back quite late at night, and let us watch James Bond movies with him, when they were on TV.  He was always a friendly guy, good humoured when he wasn't throwing a phone off the balcony.  He was quite affectionate, although he didn't really play a strong hand in raising us.  That was mum's domain.  And mum is, I will tell you for free, a stella mum.  And dad, having the ability and inclination to succumb to our latest desires for new toys, is of course, a stella dad!  But back to Digger...

Digger provided us with endless fun.  I'd play it against my brothers Evan and Oop (yes, "Oop") for hours, taking turns to get a better score, whooping at each other's finesse and ability to avoid those dreaded changeling Hobbins.  It was such an exciting game, requiring such dexterity, yet always seemed fair.  There was a great mix of consistency and randomness in the behaviours of the enemies.  

My twin brother is a relapsed Digger addict.  At times during university, he would become re-addicted to the game for weeks at a time to avoid finishing his essays.

Like many old games from this time, just learning how to play could take weeks.  I swear it was months before we even knew there was a FIRE button in this game.  We just played defensively for months and months.  When our cousin scoffed while watching, and revealed that you can SHOOT by pressing F1, it almost felt like he'd broken the game.  I was so used to playing this little vulnerable and defenceless Digger, it seemed wrong to be able to shoot those unsuspecting Nobbins in the face.

And... umm!  F1?  What the hell?  
I'm pretty sure the accepted FIRE button would be the SPACE BAR.
Are you folks at Windmill Software drafting a rulebook on how to be a maverick?

That's the thing about games back in those days.  Figuring out how they even worked was something that could go on for months at a time.

Inscrutable!  There was something quite pleasing about that, too, I might say.  You felt like an explorer, examining new species never before seen by man.

The deformable terrain at the core of this game was very cool!

Three cheers for DIGGER.  Hip hip, hooray!

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