Retro Game of the Day! Mr. Do!
Mr. Do!o, by Universal, released to arcades in 1982. This is one of those games whose history is lost to time, and by the looks of things, there must have been some rather interesting story behind it's development. Who the heck was Universal? What did the game have to do with Taito? Why did Coleco manufacture the game for play on the rival Atari 2600 system? And lastly, does anyone care about this stuff besides me? (a resounding "No!!" echoes across the whole of the Internet)
A further question - what does this game have to do with Namco's Dig Dug, and who was first to market? The games seem close enough to be cousins, at least - both involve digging through a static screen, dropping obstacles on enemies (or being crushed by them). Whereas the goal of Dig Dug is to eliminate all the monsters in order to proceed to the next level, in Mr. Do! the object is to collect all of the cherries (while avoiding or killing the monsters).
A strange little game to be sure. Quite eye-catching with its bold colors, especially "back in the day," Mr. Do! was a fun little quest through the dirt where you had to keep moving or you would die - quickly, and often. I remember always wanting to like this game, but it did such a good job of killing me over and over that I never had much patience for it. Unlike in Dig Dig (where you shoot a pump into your enemies), you have a single "powerball" that you throw at your foes - unfortunately, it might wind up traveling down a long corrider before returning you, and you'll be left defenseless in the meantime. It makes the weapon's use one more of strategy than of.. spammery.
I admit, it is a little strange you don't see clowns in many games. I think people have some sort of deep dislike/distrust/fear of them or something, otherwise it makes sense that you'd see more clowns (especially in the early 80s) starring in game roles. Easy to illustrate with the limited hardware of the day, Mr. Do! stuck out like a sore thumb when compared to the likes of Frogger or Dirk the Daring. He even made Mario and Luigi look rather boring by comparison. Okay, maybe this is stretching it.
Overall, a strangely fun little game whose popularity has endured in some form or other, despite the mascot being completely forgotten for decades now. The game is held in some esteem by older game enthusiasts, which is a testament to it's depth and design. As for me, well I still am quite bad at it - I just like the noises made by the cherries when you pick them up.