How many bugs would a Dig Dug dig if a Dig Dug could dig bugs?
A long, long time ago (well, okay, it was 1982; still, you don’t want to be eating any leftover pretzels from that era) we got Dig Dug, the popular arcade game that mixed action, strategy and…um, subterranean excavation. More than ten years later, along came Dungeon Keeper, a goofy but well-received PC game that let players be The Bad Guy, in what could be described as a sort of strategic “dungeon management” simulator.
[image1]The only earthly reason to ever mention these two games in the same paragraph is that, from the evidence, one could easily believe that they somehow ‘got together’ and produced an odd, mutant, love-child game-offspring… and that game’s actual, ready-for-U.S.-store-shelves title is NIS America’s forthcoming Holy Invasion of Privacy, Badman! What Did I Do to Deserve This?
This oddball PSP strategy title was originally a 2007 release in Japan–which always explains a lot–under the title Yuusha no Kuse Ni Namaikida (“For a Hero, You Are Quite Cheeky/Impudent”).
In Holy Invasion of Privacy, Badman! What Did I Do to Deserve This? (from here on out, that’ll be HIoPBWDIDtDT—which doesn’t save all that much line-space, actually), players oversee the excavation and maintenance of their own custom dungeon, viewed in a Dig Dug-esque, subterranean cross-section. The goal is to give your dungeon its own monster-populated ‘ecosystem’ that can self-sustain–and survive the occasional incursion by human heroes from the surface, bent on invading your domain and kidnapping your all-important Overlord.
Control is largely handled via the d-pad and a single button: The former moves your enchanted (presumably-unholy) pickaxe about the screen’s underground environs, and the latter, when pressed, demolishes any subterranean blocks with one or more available sides (each such removal lowering your available power level—when the power level bottoms out, that’s it for chipping away at blocks). Soon, you’ll have a suitable dungeon-master’s estate of corridors and cul-de-sacs. Depending upon the type of earth-block you’ve just destroyed, you can release creatures that will protect your newly-excavated dungeon…by autonomously killing off any nuisance heroes that may wander down into the depths of your underground lair.
Once you’ve created, one hopes, the Evilest Place On (or Under) Earth™, it’s time to await your uninvited Hero guests. Said hero enters the freshly-dug labyrinth, and it’s your job to take your resident evil Overlord and tuck him away safely in an undisclosed (to the Heroes) location somewhere within the sprawl of your corridors. Heroes will wander available paths through the maze, battling any monsters they come across; if they’re lucky enough to stumble across your Overlord, they’ll capture him and try to drag him to the surface, retracing the same path taken to reach the Overlord (this is another chance to create new creatures to interrupt this extraordinary rendition). Quite simple and straightforward. It doesn’t stay that way.
[image2]As any halfway-aware deity will tell you, all that “survive, thrive or flourish” self-sustaining eco-business sounds very neat on divine paper…but it can quickly become a complicated, messy, inconvenient and/or totally unforseeable affair. HioPBWDIDtDT features six types of dungeon-dwelling monsters, great and small (the collective top of the food-chain includes demons, dragons, golems and such, and from there the pecking-order descends through fairies, wisp, lizards, bugs and, finally, slimes). Each category of creature has specific behaviors, life-spans and dietary requirements — in fact, each creature sports its own sad little life-bar, which slowly depletes until, you guessed it, they take a bite out of the next-lowest rung of the Circle of Life ladder. And oh yes, there’s reproduction, too. What’s the rating on this thing, again?
You can probably grok where this is headed: Things get… interrelated. The lowly slimes both leech energy from and supply energy to the subterranean blocks as they commence to be fruitful and multiply and die off (they also smear the available life-energy around as they perambulate, which can lead to the creation of single powerful blocks from a series of lesser ones, yielding more powerful creatures). Meanwhile, bugs destroy lizard-eggs. Lizards consume bugs to survive…and then they lay eggs that will likely be eaten by the bugs. Bugs chow down on slimes…and then metamorphose into bigger, flying bugs. Ditto all of this with the more exalted dragons, fairies and the like, except that their associated blocks traffic in magical energy.
Wait, wait–wasn’t there something here about Heroes and Overlords and stuff?
[image3]Oh yes, here we are: So, the point of all this is that you’ll need to poke and prod your flourishing little eco-axis-of-evil, continually nudging the whole works to keep it self-sustaining (meaning, sufficiently dangerous to any and all intruders); it wouldn’t do for your mid-level creatures to gain too much of the upper environmental, um, claw and eat themselves out of their lower-level food base… which was, in turn, keeping the even lower food-base population under control.
There may be cases—and by ‘cases’ I pretty much mean the appearance of a particularly powerful Hero—where you want to intentionally let the eco-balance go all temporarily wacko in favor of a particular class of monster…but all things (and Heroes) being equal, that sort of radical imbalance is probably best avoided.
Beyond the goofy title and inherent, subtle humor, perhaps the most striking thing about HioPBWDIDtDT‘s presentation is its gloriously retro look — if it’s tipping a crypt-keeper’s helm to the mechanics of Dig Dug in particular, it’s also channeling classic arcade-era games in general (and if it doesn’t have best, most earnestly-misguided, Japanese-to-English, culture-jumping title title of the year, I’ll eat a handful of bugs). Be sure to dig on our full review when Holy Invasion of Privacy, Badman! What Did I Do to Deserve This? tunnels its way to North American PSPs in June. And for those of you already in the subterranean loop, dig on this special code:
You can figure out what to do with it, I have faith. Shhhhhhhh…