Thinking about game music in relation to Pac & Pal reminded me of this under-appreciated audio gem.
That’s the arcade version of Dig Dug. There are several short pieces played, but focus on the in-game “walking” theme. Musically it’s all about the melody. What you can hear of it when the sound effects aren’t playing.
Now here’s the real deal. The Atari 2600 take on the tune.
I love this. Admittedly, it’s the first version of the Dig Dug tune that I heard and thus automatically definitive to me, regardless of the facts of the matter. Just listen to it though. The arcade game’s melody is all show, “I’m gonna dig it / I’m gonna dug it / Namae wa Digory Douglas!“. On the Atari the tune is more the work of the rhythm section, those miners of the music world, all determined to stick their foot-pumps up the nearest Pooka: “Digging, I’m digging / I’m digging, I’m digging / I’m digging, I’m digging up eggplants!”
The other thing I love about both/all versions is that it’s keyed to player movement. What a neat idea! You do get this great stop/start effect, like a local band repeatedly attempting to play Metallica‘s For Whom The Bell Tolls from the beginning, but who keep getting interrupted by inclement weather. I’d love to hear that playback method applied (retrospectively even) to other games’ themes.
The dig’em is gonna dug ya!