I know, lots of things are on my plate and all of us are very busy with whatever has the emotive grip of the world on any moment on twitter, but I suddenly had this weird realization.
Who designed Mr. Do!?
This is what Mr. Do! looks like:
Depending on how rich or poor you think of early 1980s video games, Mr. Do! is either a straight-on Dig Dug ripoff, or a brilliant reworking of some of Dig Dug’s concepts into a basically unique transformative work. It certainly had all sorts of features that its Atari/Namco-designed counterpart did not, and there was absolutely unique artistry in Mr. Do! that was a sufficient character enough to make multiple sequels (Mr. Do!’s Wild Ride, Mr. Do!’s Castle, Do! Run Run, and so on) and each of those were almost brand-new games on their own, so I hope the value of Mr. Do! isn’t called into question.
Now, make no mistake – there is plenty of information about Mr. Do! out there. Here’s some excellent entries on the game itself, maintained by a wide range of folks: The Killer List of Videogames, Exotica, and so on. There’s no question that the concept of Mr. Do and even all sorts of technical knowledge about the game has been preserved.
But seriously. We have no stories of how the game came about, no information about who came up with the concept and why, what made them choose the design elements they did… we don’t know how many people worked on this game, how the team was structured, whether Taito/Universal had a single person slaving away on this project or a pile of folks. We are utterly in the dark.
And don’t think I’m really talking about only Mr. Do! here – it’s not just what this game’s history consists of and whether it has any meaning to you or me specifically. It’s that there’s a whole raft of knowledge and history that we are going to lose about videogames, and that seems a real shame. Who were the guys behind the quick-and-dirty Crazy Kong bootleg? What about Venture by Exidy? There are so many examples of this stuff falling between the cracks.
This is why I got into the whole documentary gig in the first place – tracking down folks who unknowingly (or knowingly) influenced a lot of people but had no spotlight or recording of their side of the story around. It took a hell of a lot of time to find the ANSI artist Ebony Eyes, for example, or to make all the arrangements to interview John Madill, who was FidoNet node #2. I would have hoped that at this point, even with places like Atari hiding who did what for various videogames, to know, ultimately, who these people were. I am very afraid we have not done a good job tracking them down, and we’re going to lose this knowledge forever.
Update: So, after some luck and research, I’ve found the name of the designer: Kazutoshi Ueda. But that’s about it – I don’t have photos, interviews, writings, history, or anything else. I am sure some of this is a language gap, but still – it’s a real shame so little about him has trickled out into the world, and my point stands.
Categorised as: computer history
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