Namco - 1982
Machine: Arcade, and many others
This was really Namco's alternative to their massive Pac-Man franchise, and it proved to be quite a success in itself. The hero of this game was a man dressed in blue and white who was armed with some sort of magic shovel AND an air pump. I don't think it was Elvis. You have the ability to dig your own maze through which the baddies will chase you. Generally the baddies followed you through the tunnels that you dug, but sometimes they'd just osmose through the dirt straight at you, causing much panic. There are two methods that you can employ to dispatch your pursuers; one way is to throw a hose at them and pump them full of air until they explode. Alternatively, and if you're a real clever clogs, you can mine underneath the boulders that are scattered around the screen. If you time it right, the boulder will crash down on the baddy that's after you. And kill him.
The game resembles many of Taito's games of the mid-eighties, especially with the colour scheme. I think it is a great example of the way game's designers were thinking in the early 1980s; subtle variations of a theme that were slowly allowed to become more expansive with continually improving technology. This game was released in an age when good graphics were seen as a bonus rather than a necessity. It was therefore vital to come up with a good, playable concept. The boys at Namco decided that inflating subterranean monsters was the idea of '83. God knows why it didn't become a genre in itself.
Bubbaray 07 Jan '04
KLOV's Dig Dug page - Plenty of detail and trivia.
Wikipedia's Dig Dug page - Lots of great information.