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Mr. Do! (Colecovision) artwork

Mr. Do! (Colecovision) review


"Mr. Do is a clown. That's strike one against him. In this self-titled Colecovision debut he harvests cherries lying ripe in bizarre single-screen sub-terrains. His underground world is one of pastel and patterned colors, dirt-munching monsters and easily excavated soil which he burrows through with ease. If only his natural predators weren't so abundant, he might have it made, but alas Mr. Do is forever on the lam, digging for his next cherry under the dogging jaws of Badguys and Diggers, Bl..."



Mr. Do is a clown. That's strike one against him. In this self-titled Colecovision debut he harvests cherries lying ripe in bizarre single-screen sub-terrains. His underground world is one of pastel and patterned colors, dirt-munching monsters and easily excavated soil which he burrows through with ease. If only his natural predators weren't so abundant, he might have it made, but alas Mr. Do is forever on the lam, digging for his next cherry under the dogging jaws of Badguys and Diggers, Blue Chompers and dreaded Alphamonsters.

His defenses are few. Mr. Do is equipped with a Powerball, an erratically bouncing superball that sharply ricochets down tunnels and around corners until it finds a foe. Its downside is that it can rebound indefinitely, rallying in empty passages as the vulnerable Mr. Do is left to scramble under the constant pursuit of faster adversaries. With each usage Do's Powerball is slower to deploy, limiting its preemptive strike capabilities as players are apt to save it for eminent danger. Using his surroundings with wit, the punchy prankster can also dispel monsters with Newtonian delight, uncovering buried apples that fall or may be pushed down hollowed chasms to mush Badguys and Diggers caught flat-footed below. Be wary, however, as Blue Chompers and the Alphamonster will happily gorge on the falling fruit if given the chance.

Blue Chompers won't necessarily have to make an appearance. Each screen begins with Badguys and Diggers spawning from a generator in the middle of the screen, and once all have been set loose, the generator is replaced by an early arcade staple, the bonus point food power-up. If acquired, Badguys and Diggers lose their nerve, but down march Blue Chompers and the Alphamonster to newly snap at Mr. Do's heels. Do can progress through stages in one of two ways, either by defeating all his enemies or collecting all the cherries on each screen.

If Mr. Do! sounds familiar, perhaps you've played Dig Dug, fundamentally the same concept where you're tasked with digging out an underground maze and eliminating enemies. Mr. Do! adds cherries, supplants boulders with apples, but his nifty tricks here do little to hide the similarities. Where the two titles differ is approach. In Dig Dug, you can hastily mount an offensive attack due to the lack of restrictions placed on Dug's pump, while Mr. Do will require more cunning armed with his conditional Powerball. The constraint causes Mr. Do! to play similar to Pac-Man, with its hero always on the go and the successful player a step ahead of his shadowing rivals, waiting around turns with apples to coax onto their heads. Do's Powerball expands upon Pac-Man by giving greater leeway, not a tool to hunt so much as a means to defend in inevitable head-on confrontations.

Do's journeys are accompanied by a cheerful four-line melody, its quick upbeat beeps blaring for short periods on a Colecovision tone channel while the noise generator complements with overlaying sound effects. The result is a harsh arcade cacophony that, because of the game's constant action, avoids monotony with the programmed melody acting as the pulse to an improvised barrage of sound effects. Fast-paced and enjoyable, it lends a fun carnival air more befitting the subject than the snip of Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld, commonly mistaken as The Cancan, that annoys in the arcade version. Moreover, it shows this was a careful and smart port specially designed for the Colecovision hardware.

Mr. Do! has two-player support, although not simultaneous, and four difficulty levels, although the action will get out of hand eventually regardless. Do's struggles for survival are entertaining at first, but like many older games, grow tiresome. The game is programmed in a manner where progression means enemies become smarter, faster, and Badguys more prone to become Diggers and burrow after you. It reaches a climax after the first ten to fifteen screens, after which more persistent players will bother learning the routes necessary to survive and the rest will exit stage left. Ramping up the difficulty for any game is a necessity, but for a character with the limitations of Mr. Do, these methods create further frustrations and patterned techniques rather than demand more hectic, skilled play.

Still, there is a coolness-under-fire flair to Mr. Do! that will captivate at first. Do (pitifully) also represents one of the first video game mascots, although developer Universal couldn't steer their character through the famed video game crash, while the arcade version is historic for being one of the first conversion kit games. Everything combined gives Mr. Do! a certain mystique. Here is an early retro warrior, fallen before video games went from niche to hobby. Here is a relevant historical title: a blend of Pac-Man and The Pit, sibling of Dig Dug, and predecessor to Boulder Dash. Here is tolerable, throwback simplicity where close calls on screen literally mean the difference of a bit.

Do what you gotta do.

Rating: 6/10

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Featured community review by LowerStreetBlues (October 30, 2009)

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zigfried posted October 31, 2009:

Fantastic review. This is strongly-validated criticism backed by historical data that most wouldn't even be aware of (or try to learn). I've had Mr. Do -- and its oddly-titled sequel "Mr. Do vs Unicorns" -- lying around for awhile, unplayed, because... well, he's a clown. They're part of an "arcade classics" line on the X68000, but I had never even heard of them before.

Now, when I do finally get around to playing them, I feel like I'll have a better perspective on their relevance, and that's due to your review.

//Zig
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LowerStreetBlues posted October 31, 2009:

That's cool, glad to help. I wasn't sure if anyone would actually read this but I guess that was silly considering retro content is how I ended up browsing here.

Other Mr. Do games are a lot different than this one. I've already got a couple graphs down for Mr. Do's Castle (Mr. Do Versus Unicorns), so maybe tomorrow I can finish that.
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bloomer posted November 12, 2009:

Yeah, these have all been very good reviews. As for Mr Do., my fave Mr Do game is Mr Do's Wild Ride.

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