Once you get past the cutesy title, Diggin’ Dogs is a seriously imaginative game. You must help three young pups dig their way through dirt and ice, past bees and poisonous mushrooms, to reach lost treasure. So it’s similar to Where’s My Water?, but it sports a lot of its own ideas, like using the accelerometer to carefully avoid obstacles. Diggin’ Dogs is a surprise at every turn.
Each level begins and ends the same. Your dogs begin burrowing their way to hidden treasures that lie at the end of the level. Between your dogs and the treasures is an obstacle course of enemies and hidden gold. There are three dogs, and by swiping your finger across the screen, you can remove the dirt from the level. The goal is to remove enough dirt to create tunnels, guiding the dogs to safety and to gold. Various pockets can be found on each level, most often containing gold coins or dog bones, and by freeing the dirt around these pockets, you can steer the treasures towards your dogs.
Once you have created tunnels, you can tilt your device left and right to move the dogs in that direction. Note that you can’t move one individual dog. All must move at once, except when it comes to jumping. By flicking up on one dog, you can make it jump to access out of reach areas or treasure chests.
You receive points at the end of each round, tallying the amount of gold you grabbed as well as how many dogs you were able to help make it to the end. If you lose even one dog, your score is significantly reduced. At times, you can set traps for your enemies, like sharp-teethed bear traps, which kill the bees on sight. The key is to take your time and be aware of your surroundings: it may save a pooch or two.
Your dogs can also use super-powered helmets to help them along the way. A helmet can only be worn by one puppy, so you’ll need to strategize how that dog will help his compatriots. One helmet magnetizes your dog, drawing gold coins to him. Another rids your path of poisonous mushrooms.
I ain’t saying she’s a gold digger.
Your rate of success is ultimately determined by the number of dog bones you can find in each level. Every level contains three bones, but they aren’t always in plain sight. Once you have accumulated enough bones, you unlock the next collection of levels. Each new collection offers new challenges to enhance the gameplay.
This game is so imaginative that it’s hard not to have fun while playing. Just like in Where’s My Water, being able to create tunnels with a simple touch of your finger is very satisfying gameplay mechanic, and your puppies have a lot of personality. Our only gripe with the game is the camera system, which follows the puppies as they dig deeper. You can’t ever move the camera where you want it, which means you don’t have much chance to see what is to the left or right of you.
Diggin’ Dogs has a surprising amount of depth, and the clever developers of the game definitely keep you on your toes. It may bear some resemblance to Where’s My Water, but it’s hard to care too much when we’re having this much fun. Treasure-hunting dogs, super-powered helmets, pirate ghosts… Who could ask for anything more?