Sunday, May 29, 2016

Digger Dan DX (3DS eShop) Review

For the third May in a row, SuperPhillip Central celebrates the Nintendo 3DS with a 3DS-centric review month. While May's end is quickly approaching, I have several more reviews before we say goodbye to this special month. This next review covers a game that will mostly be overlooked on the Nintendo 3DS eShop despite its most welcoming price of 99 cents. It's Digger Dan DX!

A Game That's Just Digger Dandy

With mobile gaming taking lots of consumers by storm, it always confused me why some developers on dedicated handheld storefronts didn't aim to make bite-sized games for as low of a price as what the App Store and Google Play Store offer. Now, I'm not saying something like Shovel Knight or SteamWorld Dig should be $1, but for smaller games with less going on, this pricing structure can result in more impulse purchases. I know that's exactly the reason I purchased Digger Dan DX, other than looking at the intriguing trailer. For $0.99, you get a game that for all intents and purposes is a heck of steal for what you're getting.

Digger Dan DX is a 2D spelunking game that has the titular Digger Dan move through the dirt, whether up, down, left, or right, collecting jewels and gems. Collect all of the shiny goodies in a level, and you unlock the exit door. Of course, there's more than just dirt to get in our main man Dan's way.

A variety of obstacles and level gimmicks come into play to bring some nice variety to the gameplay. Many levels have rocks and blocks that fall when the dirt underneath them is dug up by Dan. This results in them quickly falling down thanks to the law of gravity. It's paramount to carefully dig so you don't get crushed by a falling rock or block. The difference between rocks and blocks is that rocks can be pushed aside while blocks cannot be moved manually at all.

Quick, Dan! Move out of the way before you get crushed!
The biggest puzzles in Digger Dan DX revolve around cautiously maneuvering Dan so he doesn't get crushed, nor do you want him to accidentally cause a rock or block to impede his progress. Getting blocked, whether through putting a rock or block in his way so he can't escape, or dropping a rock or block on top of a jewel so Dan can't reach it means you'll have to restart the level. Rocks and blocks can also be pushed from high places to destroy weakened, cracked sections of floor, allowing Dan to enter new areas of levels.

There are other level gimmicks thrown in for good measure as well, such as TNT barrels that explode upon impact with the ground from being dropped from a high place, underwater sections that Dan can drown in if his air supply gauge empties all the way, enemies that can be defeated through a myriad of ways, buttons that open doors temporarily or permanently through pushing a rock on top of them, and floors that slow Dan's movement down by half.

This unsuspecting enemy is in for an explosive afternoon.
A clever mechanic has Dan utilizing the help of a small digging animal, able to fit through small gaps in walls that Dan's normal human size just can't fit through. Plenty of levels cleverly have you switching between the two characters to assist one another in getting through the levels. One instance had me controlling the miniature little helper through a tiny gap and standing on a red button that in turn opened a door for Dan to slip past. The only thing that this perfect helping pal can't do is push rocks. Hey, we can't all be perfect!

Slip through miniature gaps with Digger Dan's trusty companion.
There are 100 levels total in Digger Dan DX, and they are split up between four types of levels ranging in different difficulties. Once you finish one batch of 25 levels, the next 25 unlocks. You have to play the levels in order, so if you're wanting to jump around, this is not possible unfortunately. Each level has replay value from trying to not only get a high score (though, sadly, there are no online leaderboards to be found), but also in getting a gold star on each level. Getting a gold star is performed by beating a level before the timer hits zero for a time bonus, and by collecting a special gem found by digging up a specific piece of dirt, revealing the gem. Though some of the locations of these hidden special gems seem more random than well thought out.

This shield not only allows for invincibility but also fast footwork for Digger Dan.
Digger Dan DX has a nice stereoscopic 3D effect. It's nothing that will absolutely astound, but it is more than serviceable. The visuals have a charming 3D rendered look to the characters, and the environments are detailed just enough, though be prepared to see lots of gray and brown. The music on the other hand is pretty grating as there but a small handful of tunes heard throughout the game.

For the price, Digger Dan DX is an easy recommendation for those looking for a great time-waster to play on-the-go, beating a level or two as you go. The 100 levels and getting gold stars on each means you'll have incentive to keep playing. While the game can get really perplexing in later levels due to having to think before you dig (or else you'll find our pal Dan crushed to death), Digger Dan DX is quite dandy as a download on the Nintendo 3DS eShop.

[SPC Says: B-]

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