Issue #76 - December 2003
Well, issue #75 has
come and gone and the newsletter remains. To be honest, with the burden
of selling on the website gone, I have a renewed spirit for doing RT.
That and a new computer, one that does not crash 4-5 times a day (at the
most inopportune times, like after doing alot of work on RT and not
saving for awhile), makes things much more enjoyable. Oh and the
ability to play MAME again really helps put a person in a better mood.
I have been MAME-less for about a year and a half, if not longer. But
now I am enjoying it, along with a Devastator II controller. So look
for another 25 issues of Retrogaming Times. I will make it to issue
#100, but after that, I may take a break from it.
In this set of reviews I thought I
would focus on a few official arcade conversions for the Vic 20. There
are quite a number of good arcade conversions. Unfortunately there are
also a few real shockers. So hopefully right here I can help steer you
in the right direction.
This is one of my favourite
arcade games and one that gets a real work out on MAME. So as a teenager
when I found that Dig Dug was available for the Vic 20 I was over the
moon. I was so excited that I got my Mum to put the game on lay-by so I
could pay it off over the next few weeks. When I finally made that last
payment I rushed home to play one of my favourite games. And boy was I
seriously ticked off. The game just looks terrible. Huge blocky sprites
and a tiny squashed screen. I was devastated. But these days I find the
game pretty good. Sure I still think the graphics are pretty bad, but
the actual game play is very good. Everything zips along at a nice pace
and the sound effects are very good too. Overall though, this is a
disappointment and Atari could have done a much better job.
MY SCORE - 6/10
Now I must admit that I have
never really enjoyed Gorf on any system I have ever played it on. I
don't really know why as I love just about every classic shoot-em-up.
Gorf on the Vic 20 is yet another blocky affair, but at least the
graphics are fast and colourful. In my opinion this version plays better
than the Atari VCS version. There are four different levels to Gorf,
each being a slightly different variation of other arcade games. The
first level is like Space invaders, where you have to shoot four lines
of aliens as they march slowly across and down the screen. The second is
a bit like Galaxian, with two mother ships and eight aliens constantly
diving at you while showering you with laser fire. The third is a more
original level with a ship circling around while asteroids shoot toward
you. The final level is where you face off against the mother ship and
is sort of like the final level in Phoenix where you need to get a few
shots through to hit the ship core. This does make for some good
variation and some hectic game play. So if you are a Gorf fan, then I
believe you could add a couple of points to my final score. But if Gorf
has never really turned you on, then you may get bored a bit too
My Score - 6/10
I love Frogger on the Atari VCS.
It is a good game that was very well programmed. Unfortunately the same
can't be said about this version of Frogger for the Vic 20. Graphically
it is okay, but it all looks a bit squashed. The worst part of the game
is the jerky movement of everything. There are other games out there
that show the Vic 20 can do some nice smooth animation. In my opinion it
looks like a Frogger clone written in BASIC rather than a supposedly
professionally produced game. In fact I have some Frogger clones that
were written in BASIC that move far more smoothly. Overall, this is
still a playable game of Frogger, but it is quite a disappointment when
you think of what could have been produced.
My Score - 5/10
Now here is an interesting game
to review. Pac Man on the Vic 20 shows so much potential to be a
fantastic game. The Pac Man looks good, the ghosts look good, the sound
is good, the speed of everything is just about perfect. But there is one
problem - WHERE IS HALF THE MAZE GONE!!!! To make it fit within the
Vic's limited screen, the programmers have left out about a full third
of the maze. However, this problem doesn't take away too much from a
pretty impressive version of Pac Man. While it is a huge improvement on
the Atari VCS version, it falls far short of the brilliant Pac Man clone
My Score - 7/10
This is a really fun game. There
are some graphical glitches in the Vic 20 version, but none distract
from the game play at all. While the graphics are a little blocky, it is
easy to tell what is what. The whole screen is used to good effect
rather than trying to squash it up too much. The main graphical problem
is that all the characters are surrounded by a black border. I assume
this was to prevent colour clashing and keeping the game speed up. The
skill level seems to be a bit higher than other versions of Q-Bert I
have played. The enemies, particularly Coily the snake, really come
after you, pouncing as soon as you go anywhere near them.
My Score - 8/10
The Vic 20 version of Centipede
is a great game. Everything you would hope to find in a good version of
Centipede is here. The graphics are very good, with everything well
defined and certainly an improvement on the Atari VCS version. The
mushrooms look like mushrooms rather than just little squares. Your
character also has more shape to him. Speed is pretty good. The
centipede can really shoot down the screen and he is right on top of you
before you know it. Sound is good, but limited to mainly white noise
effects. Perhaps the only thing to distract a little is some colour
clash as the centipede winds its way down through the mushrooms. But
this certainly doesn't detract from the quality of the game play.
My Score - 8/10
Another good arcade
translation marred slightly by some blocky graphics. But, the graphics
are colourful and everything is recognizable. Sound is good, with all
the nice bouncy effects done very well. The game play is really good,
with everything operating at a good speed. This is as good as any other
version I have played. One of the best aspects of this version of Donkey
Kong is that all four levels are present (at least I believe four levels
is what the original arcade game had. If this is wrong, please feel free
to correct me). Also there is the little taunt between levels asking you
how high you can go. I think this is a great version and one that will
please any fan of the original, as long as you can put up with the
blockiness of the graphics.
My Score - 9/10
(Hi, I am Tonks (Andrew Tonkin). I am a big fan of classic gaming from
Australia. I am married and have two boys who love to play Dad's ever
growing collection of classic consoles, computers and games. I would
love to here from other Vic 20 fans. Perhaps you might like to send me
your list of favourite games for the Vic and I could compile them for a
future RT article. So take up the challenge. I can be contacted at
gamers, 'cause it's time for another double dose of TV commercial
goodness. This month's column is several things in one. When I started
working on the Commercial Vault CD, I decided against simply gathering
all the ads I downloaded and burning them to a CD. I decided to actually
record my own clips so everyone can enjoy them without special programs.
One upside is I discovered some ads that are NOT available on the
internet. I decided this month to give you a sneak peek at two of the
exclusive ads you won't find anywhere else.
The two ads I decided on are Gyruss and Q*Bert. Both of these are arcade
classics put out for all the major systems by Parker Bros. Both these
games have also been covered by Alan Hewston's "Many Faces Of", so this
is also a make-up column as well.
Thus unusual ad is out to show
how Gyruss is more exciting than other space shooters. First they show
bored kids playing "other" shooters, then this ad shows a gameplayer
spinning in midair to keep up with the ship on the screen.
"There are space games, and there are space games."
"Now, there's Gyruss, hot from the arcade. Nothing moves like Gyruss.
It's planet by planet warfare, you're attacked by enemy ships,
satellites, and meteors in a relentless search for, uh... then more
enemy ships, more satellites, more meteors. Now you can buy [other space
shooters], or buy Gyruss, the more hyper space game."
"I'm so bored playing Star Ship."
"This game's so fun I'm spinning in my seat."
Everybody now: "Dizzy..I'm so dizzy.."
Maybe a black hole landed in his living room.
Makes you wonder if the power goes out while he's in mid-air, doesn't
This animated spot features
Q*Bert as he gets in shape for his home video game. He talks about being
an arcade star while we watch gameplay footage from the Colecovision
version. What does we have to say about his success? Let's let the man
"I'm Q*Bert, and I've got all the right moves. I've got the legs, too.
First an arcade game, now my own home video game. I'm ready for
anything. Staying away from creeps like Ugh and Coily takes a quick
mind, and lots of fancy footwork. The longer I hop around, the more
they're out to get me. UGGHH! When they said fame would go to my head,
they weren't kidding."
"Now for all popular systems."
"It's not easy being Q*Bert, but it's fun."
This is how the Q-man stays in shape.
Gettin' ready to jump on the pyramids.
Q*Bert after a hard day with the boys.
Another shot of the icon himself.
You'll be happy to know Q*Bert doesn't say the word @!#?@!. Instead he
says @!?! on the Colecovision screen.
That's all for this month. I hope this gives you a taste of what's to
come. There are other ads, but I'm going to keep them under wraps for
I now want to address the possibility of covering Nintendo ads in the
'Vault, now that Tom has decided to include Nintendo and Sega coverage
in the newsletter. If you think I should go ahead with this, let me
Happy holidays, everyone, and I'll be back in 31 days for more
After a very long
hiatus, MAME Reviews are back! Now that I have a new computer, I can
once again enjoy the greatest emulator ever made. Here are the games
for this month.
Peter Pepper's Ice Cream
I had heard of an arcade sequel
to Burgertime and as far as I know, this is it. It is on some odd
Cassette version, which means there is a two minute wait for it to load
at the beginning (which makes me believe it is not an arcade game). It
has some elements of Burgertime and also some from the Intellivision
only sequel, Diner (which is in my opinion the best Intellivision game
and sadly, one that will never be ported to any other system).
This game keeps the
two dimensional view of the original Burgertime. Once again, you are
moving up and down ladders as you try to make ice cream cones. This is
where it borrows from Diner, you can kick the balls of ice cream and
send them at the awaiting cones. This will also run over any enemies
that happen to be in the way of the big ball of frozen goodness. And
you will need them as there are a bunch of bad guys in this game and
they are quick. They are also smart, no stupid hot dogs in this game.
Also, this time you do not have any pepper to work with. Instead, they
give you the ability to jump. While this is a nice power, I would have
liked to get some pepper or maybe some salt to defend myself with.
The game looks good
and there is a wide variety of foes. You have strawberries, jugs of
milk, donuts and what looks like a scale. And you better get to know
them as they will be after you and you will die often. That is probably
the biggest drawback about the game, it is too hard. I played about 30
games and have yet to get past the first level. This is coming from
someone who has zoomed through the first five levels on Burgertime
without too much trouble. This is by far the biggest drawback and
detracts from the game.
Being hard would
not be bad if it was fair. But the enemies have the ability to float
over holes that you need to jump over. They also move faster than you
and when they respawn, they can pop up on the sides and kill you. Then
you add in the ice cream scoops that are sitting on the bottom level,
the ones that need to be kicked upwards and you have a very serious
challenge. Too much of a challenge if you ask me. Couple this with the
long loading time and you have a mediocre sequel.
One of the nice things about
being away from MAME for so long, is that there is a whole new world
full of games that were not available the last time I played. One of
them is a cute little game called Chameleon. The game was made in 1983
and really has a classic feel to it. You are a chameleon and your goal
is to eat all the chicken eggs and kill all the chickens. Sorta think
of yourself as Perdue's worst nightmare. Being a little chameleon, you
have one power and that is your tongue. You use it to attack chickens
and to pull yourself up levels. And it comes in handy as you will have
your hands full. There are alot of eggs to eat and quite a few angry
chickens running around.
The game starts off
easy enough as there are alot of eggs to gobble up. Just go up to them
and shoot the tongue and you can eat them up. But watch out as the
chickens are not too keen to you eating their babies and will come after
you. You need to hit the chickens three times with your tongue to kill
it. The first two just stun it. And you need to eat all the eggs and
kill all the chickens to move to the next level. A nice little touch is
that if you let an egg go too long, it will hatch into a dangerous
little chick. Much like their parents, chicks can kill you. You are
just a little lizard after all. And if this was not enough, you have a
big buzzard that throws what looks like very dangerous Easter eggs at
you. The buzzard cannot be hurt, so don't bother.
A few nice touches
are how you can climb around the levels like a lizard. You will soon
realize that you need to move around as their are eggs that are on the
other side of the screen and since you cannot jump over a hole, you need
to go down and back up to get there. You can shoot your tongue out from
below to get the eggs, which is a nice touch. There is also a warp log
that will send you from one side to another, much like Pacman.
Another nice touch
is that the levels are different. The second level is a mine level
which offers new challenges. This adds to the desire to keep playing as
you want to see what is up next. Overall, it is a cute little game and
a fun game to boot. The character is very cute and I am happy they did
not saddle him with some lame name. I would rather just be a chameleon
than end up being called Changy the Chameleon or Leon the Chameleon. It
is always nice to find a little treasure like this game. Once again, it
is a game that without MAME, would most likely be lost to most people
It was almost twenty years ago . . .
1984 which was a decent year for classic video games but will always be
remembered as the year of the
classic video game "crash". You'll also recall that this was "the"
transition year from the "joystick" era into the "Joypad" &
era. There were the usual lot of unique games to arrive; but also
several good sequels were made; we saw the remainder of the first wave
of laser disc games hit the arcade; home
computer games took an even bigger market share, but made a leap forward
in their games' graphics and complexity; a
handful of light gun games became memorable; and the Boxing, Karate,
Kung-Fu and Wrestling games ie fighting genre really came to life.
Maybe I've played too many games, but unfortunately, 1984 pretty much
represents the point in time where games started to blur together for
me perhaps for you too. The number of unique video games on home
cartridges or at the arcades, to that point in time, combined for
over 1500 titles, and was fast approaching
2000. Not including any diskette based games. Yes, new games were
plentiful, but with so many titles out there,
they began to look like the last one you just played - from any given
genre. At some point the theme or titles started to sound the same, and
the name no longer clued you in to what type of game it was.
I've again compiled a list of 40 of the most well-known video games who
had their initial release in 984. If I've missed any, please let me know
and vote accordingly. Vote for 10 that you
enjoy playing the most. Today, tomorrow, yesterday, whenever. Pick your
10 based upon any criteria or platform -
arcade, emulation, new console version, older systems, computers etc.
No need to rank them, just cut and paste 10 in your
reply alphabetical order preferred. If you only like a few then
Vote ASAP & I'll compile the list for next month or so. Click and
scroll across the list below and <edit copy> them, then click on "email
here to vote" & paste the list in the email
body. Simply delete those you do not like until you get to 10 or fewer.
Beyond Castle Wolfenstein
Championship Lode Runner
Do! Run Run
Mr. Do's Wild Ride
Quest for Quintana Roo
Raid on Bungeling Bay
Raid Over Moscow
Rescue on Fractalus
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
Summer Games I & II
Tag Team Wrestling
Three Stooges, The
Email Here to Vote
Note subsequent surveys will not continue on into 1985 (just yet), as
those games pretty much complete the transition into the Bit Age Era.
Instead, we'll back track to do 25th
anniversary surveys of 1979, 1980 and 1981 first.
Alan Hewston, can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. He'll use your
feedback to influence the games reviewed in the "Many Faces of Articles
of the Retrogaming
Times in 2004.
Since I took my
email address off most of the pages on the website, I get alot less
email (especially the junk mail, I now do not feel like every citizen of
Africa is emailing me about putting millions into my bank account),
which means the letters to the editor may become a little more
intelligent. But then I can be wrong. Let us start off with our first
My friend and i had
an argument about SM3 (Super Mario 3),
I was wondering if it is possible to get to
the eighth level by using the two flutes you get in
the first level?
I cannot answer
this one as I never really played the game. I am not very good at
platform games that typically avoid them. But if someone wants to send
me the answer, I will forward it to the person.
My friend and I had a disagreement. We both agreed that one person rode
an ostrich in the game Joust. But what about the other bird? I said it
was a stork and my friend said it was a crane. Please settle our bet.
Alot of disagreeing
this month and so close to Christmas. For the answer, you are both
wrong it is an owl! Just kidding. You are right, it is a stork.
I read in a
magazine that Sinistar was the first game with speech. Is this true or
was there a game with speech before it?
There were a few
games with speech before that. Sinistar came out in 1982, but was
preceded by Gorf and Space Fury which came out in 1981. And before both
of those came Berzerk, which was the first game with speech in 1981.
A growing segment
of the video game market is the arcade controllers, specifically ones
developed for use with MAME and other emulators. What started as a
small garage business, has since grown into a handful of companies
offering everything from a simple one joystick with a handful of buttons
for about $70.00 to a huge, elaborate stick with all the bells and
whistles for about $700.00. But what is too much controller and how much
do you really need? To help out here, I am going to go over some of the
different features offered and what games take advantage of these.
Hopefully this will help you in your decision making process. Having
owned two different arcade controllers (the now defunct V-Stick and the
Devastator II) as well as having tried out the Slickstick, X-Arcade and
the now defunct Arcade2000 joystick, I have a pretty good take on MAME
controllers. This article is not going to be a comparison of the
different sticks, but rather just letting you know how much of a stick
you need and why you should or should not consider which options.
The first thing to
consider is that with a MAME controller, you really need to look more at
what the stick offers and how much it will improve your enjoyment of
the games that you like to play. This past sentence is the most
important advice I can give you. Do not put the cost first, do not put
the looks first, but instead look at what are your favorite games and
whether the controller you are buying will improve the enjoyment of
those games. If there are no trackball games that are among your
favorites, then do you really need a trackball? If you really love
Robotron, should you even consider a controller that does not offer two
8-way joysticks? These are important things for you to consider. And
for this reason, there really is no single joystick that is perfect for
everyone. It really depends on your personal tastes.
Another thing to
keep in mind is that the average used arcade game is going to cost you
$500.00. This is if you are picking it up. If you are having it
shipped, it will cost another $200.00-$400.00 to have it crated and
shipped to you. And while there is no substitute for playing the actual
arcade game, you will have a single game to play. Unless it is a
multigame or a Neo Geo cart system, it is just one game to play. And if
we have learned anything, more choices are better. I am not saying that
you should not buy original arcade machines. If you have the money and
space for them, go for it! They are a great piece of video game
memorabilia to own. But for most people, it is not an option. They
take up alot of space, cost alot to buy and can cost even more to
maintain and repair. But with a MAME controller, you can easily hook it
up and play and then store it away when not in use. And if you are a
person who wants to walk the straight and narrow and not play games you
have not paid for, there are many great commercial emulators out there
that can give you nearly 100 different games to play. Between the two
Atari compilations, the two Bally/Midway and the Namco collections,
there is plenty of games to play.
Let us look at some
of the different options that you have and which ones are the most
important. I will also list some of the most popular games that take
advantage of these options.
6 Buttons - In the
early days of MAME controllers, some joysticks (like my beloved V-Stick)
allowed up to 4 buttons for one player games and two buttons per
joystick for two player games. While this was nice in the early days of
MAME when most of the games emulated only used one or two buttons, it
soon become obsolete. Trying playing a two player game of Golden Axe
with this setup and see what I mean. Or for that matter, play some
Defender and see how lacking it was. It was easy to see that extra
buttons were necessary. To be honest, six seems to be the perfect
number of buttons. Any more is too many and any less is too limiting.
Six will pretty much cover any game from the 1970's to the 1990's.
Two Joysticks - One
of the first innovations offered with MAME controllers was offering two
joysticks. This was nice for two players games that offered cooperative
gameplay as well as games that took advantage of two joysticks. This
soon became a staple of MAME controllers until recently when cheaper and
smaller one joystick models came out. While these smaller models do
take up less space and are more affordable (most under $100.00), are
they too restrictive for most gamers? Here is a list of the two player
games that would require a two joystick controller or you end up with
one person using the keyboard.
Two player games
that use two joysticks at once - Joust, Joust 2, Wizard of Wor, Golden
Axe, Altered Beast, Timber, Space Duel, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,
Double Dragon, Simpsons (and for that matter any of those arcade games
from the late 1980's), Puzzle Bobble, Tetris, Bomberman, Legendary
Wings, Rampage, Gauntlet, Bubble Bobble, Snow Bros, Rip Off, Armor
Ambush, Toobin and any of the hundreds of fighting games like Street
Fighter II, Mortal Kombat and others. Plus throw in all the two player
sports games and you have a ton of two player games.
If that is not
enough, there are a nice selection of games that are best played with
two joysticks at one time. These include many of the great classics
including Robotron 2084, Crazy Climber, Crazy Climber 2, Smash TV, Black
Widow, Krull, Wacko, Kosmic Kroozer, Snake Pit and Munch Mobile. While
this list is smaller, many people would pay the extra money just for the
big three - Robotron, Crazy Climber and Smash TV. All three are well
loved and awesome games. If any of these games are among your
favorites, then two joysticks is a must have. There is no better way to
play Robotron or Crazy Climber than with two joysticks. Buttons cannot
The next popular
add-on is the trackball. While the list of games that take advantage of
it is not that big, we are talking about some of the most beloved games
in arcade history. Take a look and see how many of your favorites are
on this list: Centipede, Millipede, Missile Command, Crystal Castles,
Marble Madness, Major Havoc, Rampart, Birdie King, Golden Tee Golf and
Atari Football. While the list is not as comprehensive, try playing
Centipede with a mouse or a joystick and you will see how much you miss
having a trackball. For myself, almost every game on this list is a
favorite of mine (with Rampart and Centipede leading the way), so having
a trackball was a no-brainer for me. But how many of these games are
favorites of yours? Keep in mind that a trackball will increase the
cost of your joystick by about $100.00, so it is not a cheap choice.
But if you must play some of these games and want the arcade experience,
then the costs is worth it.
add-on is the spinner. But there are two things to keep in mind with
spinners. One is there is a very limited number of games that use
them. They really are for the die hard fans of these games. The other
thing to consider is that most spinners need to be lubricated once or
twice a year to keep running fine. This means taking your controller
apart and it is something that most people do not want to do. Two
controllers that offer nearly frictionless spinners are the Devastator
II and the Slickstick. Here is a list of the games that are improved by
having a spinner. While not a big list, there are some classics among
them: Tempest, Tempest Tubes, Tron, Discs of Tron, Arkanoid, Super
Breakout, Omega Race and Warlords. For Tempest fan (and there are alot
of them), a spinner is a necessity. But if none of these games are
among your favorites, this may be a feature you can live without. Once
again, it will increase the cost of your controller as spinners are not
cheap. It will also increase the size of your controller.
that has recently popped up is an extra four way joystick or even some
joysticks that can switch between four way and eight way. Take it from
someone with experience, if you only have a choice between four way or
eight way joystick, take the eight way. You can play four way games
with an eight way joystick and most of the time the difference is not
that much. But playing eight way games with a four way joystick is a
whole different story. Don't think that eight way joysticks are just
for fighting games. There are many classic and neo-classic games that
benefit from having an eight way joystick. Here are a few: Robotron
2084, Sinistar and Space Harrier to name a few. Now don't get me wrong,
a four joystick is superior to an eight way for games like Ms. Pacman
and Q*Bert, but you can play them with an eight way and do fine. But if
you are a big fan of maze games, you may want to consider this
A small feature
that is relatively new to the MAME controller scene, but one that can
make a difference is having a joystick with a button on it. This is a
fairly inexpensive option (usually adds $20.00-$30.00 to the cost of the
controller) and one that makes a difference in a handful of games. Try
playing Battlezone without this feature and you will see how valuable it
can be. Without a joystick with a button on it, you have to stop moving
your tank while one of your hands hits a button to shoot. This makes
you very vulnerable and will affect your scores. But with a button on
the joystick, you can shoot while moving. Discs of Tron and Tron both
benefit from this small feature.
So there you have
it, a list of all the most popular add-ons for MAME controllers and what
games benefit from having them. Sure there are other features you can
add like a flight yoke, but at some point you have to say how much is
too much? I hope this helps out for all the people who are considering
getting a MAME controller. Here are the web sites of some of the most
popular MAME controllers:
Devastator II Controller
We welcome back Mr. Do! in his first of 4!
sequels, where he once again must collect all the cherries on each
screen, or eliminate all the bad guys to move on to the next one. This
time his cherries are at home, amongst the 7 floors of his castle, but
invading Unicorns and the ever popular “Alpha” monsters are out to get
him. Hmmn . . . In fantasy fiction, I’ve only seen Unicorns portrayed as
the good guys - in fact usually they are very good and just beings. Does
that mean Mr. Do! is the “Bad Guy”? Perhaps he didn’t pay his taxes on
those cherry orchards and the law enforcement arrives to collect him or
his taxes. Regardless, on all home versions the enemies look nothing
like unicorns, but perhaps horned trolls.
Mr. Do! is chased through the 8 rooms (scenes)
of his castle. He can walk L/R and climb U/D, and diagonal U/D. When not
climbing he can stop and swing his hammer L/R in the direction he faces.
Mr. Do! misses having a projectile weapon, but, alas, he probably
doesn’t want to unleash his “Power Ball” weapon - to go bouncing around
inside his home. To bad because his hammer is only good for hitting
something right next to him, but it can destroy the Alpha Monsters and
temporarily push back his lesser enemies. For the nastier ones he had
better run early and often to keep his distance from any unicorn as
their touch means death. His best bet is to use his multitude of ladders
(don’t forget Tom’s reminder to be grateful for our ladders) to trick
the bad guys. Every screen has a continuous vertical ladder along the
entire length of both L & R sides - not the case on the arcade version.
There are a few short vertical ladders connecting adjacent floors, but
most of the interior ladders are special, slanted ones. They’re also one
floor high, but only the bottom portion is anchored to the floor. The
upper portion of these ladders can be kicked and thus moved to a second
position. The push/kick detaches it from the top and it rotates across a
gap in the upper floor to reach the other side. If you kick while an
enemy is coming up, he’ll go for a ride and get redirected away from
The most important element in the game are the
blocks in the floor. Some of the floor is solid, or has ladders, but
most contain a visible block, which your hammer can smash out of its
place, downward. Try to time your swing to send the block down onto your
enemies and they will be eliminated, scoring you points. Once these
blocks are knocked out, ala “Lode Runner”, a gaping hole will make Mr.
Do! fall through, but all enemies will temporarily get stuck in them. If
you hammer the unicorns while they are trapped in a hole, they will fall
down until they hit a floor below, but you score no points. You should
consider this as a defensive measure only, especially since repeated
smashing of unicorns will eventually turn them into a nastier color
variation. The first (easy) unicorns are Red, and they’re not too smart,
or fast, these will turn into the Green variety, which are smarter and
faster still, which then turn into the even smarter, and faster, Blue
variety. The Blue ones will not chase too long before they get nasty and
clone themselves and double in number. They cannot be knocked through
the holes in the floor, and cannot pushed back by your hammer. Now, if
you did not hammer the unicorn when it gets trapped in the hole, it will
repair the hole, then climb back out. You can sometimes eliminate
unicorns by smashing the floor block just as they are about to step onto
it. Points are score in proportion to how nasty the unicorns are, plus
bonus points are award for additional floors they fall when being
smashed by a block. You always earn a meager amount of points for
knocking out any floor blocks, including the ones the unicorns build,
and then there’s bonus points for touching the shield.
Do! starts each life/scene on the bottom most
floor, which is solid and has no blocks to knock out. If this is your
second or more life used on this scene, then all blocks, ladders and
items remain as they were when you last died. Plan accordingly, as you
may trap yourself into multiple deaths, quickly ending the game. The
Unicorns arrive at the top floor, which is also solid, and has only two
ladders connecting to it - those at the screen edges. This floor has
only one object, a locked door which opens as soon as you collect all
three keys. Behind the door is a magic shield that when touched changes
all Unicorns into Alpha Monsters and they will flee you for a limited
time. The Alpha Monsters wear the letters from the word “EXTRA”. When
you see the screen flash, beware, as they soon all turn back into
unicorns. You earn bonus points for catching and eliminating the Alpha
Monsters, and if you are able to spell out “EXTRA” on the castle’s flag
pole, you earn an extra life. The final object on screen are special
skull blocks that come in pairs. These pairs hold together a length of
blocks, and thus if both are smashed, then all blocks will fall. This
makes for an effective way to drop blocks on your enemies. The remaining
floor then acts as if it is solid but looks like floor boards. The apple
from “Mr. Do!” is shown in the arcade game, but not at home, and is not
used. The Asian version of the game is called Mr. Do! Vs. Unicorns, and
at least two ROM versions are known to exist. The later version has the
hidden replay Diamond. The music, plethora of sound effects, animation
and loads of activity and motion make this game both eye candy and ear
candy. End each scene by smashing all blocks containing cherries, or by
vanquishing all enemies, or when you earn an extra life.
The lovely marquee.
Arcade: 1983 Universal
Home versions all in 1984 by Coleco and/or
Atari 2600, Atari 8 bit, 5200, CV and C64
Arcade Legacy: Mr. Do!, Mr. Do's Castle, Mr.
Do's Wild Ride, Do! Run Run, Neo Mr. Do!
Home Version Similarities: Except those in <>;
all home versions have: no choice of start level; no gameplay options or
difficulty settings; no demo; and have crummy looking unicorns – trolls?
Fortunately most versions have: a continuous set of several musical
scores and many sound effects; 7 floors to the castle <2600 (6 floors)>;
8 scenes <2600 (4)>; both vertical & slanted interior ladders <2600>;
background details, including windows <2600>; 16 difficulty levels of
action <2600 (8 levels)>; letters “EXTRA” will be placed on your five
flagpoles < CV (1 pole), Atari 8 bit & 2600 (0 poles); you must collect
ALL the letters that you need to earn an extra life, repeat letters do
not help <2600 - any 5 letters, as all have “+” on them>; unicorns
knocked through the floor continue on their way <2600 return to top>;
Blue unicorns will clone <2600>.
Disqualified: Atari 5200 (33 or 41)
My first reaction was frustrating controls. I
tried 2 carts, all of my possible controllers, regular, track ball,
Wico, and even the Masterplay Interface, but had no luck in controls.
Once you get on a ladder, you cannot almost never move left or right.
And it appears to be programmed to make you re-center the stick after
each L or R move. Maybe I have rotten luck, but my hardware & controls
work fine on other 5200 games. Thus Controls are either a (0), or if my
cart’s ROM is bad, then an average 5200 score of (8) might be good
enough guess. Besides, the Controls, the game seems identical to the
Atari 8 bit computer version. Parker Brothers - of course stripped out
the pause button. Cart version is fairly rare.
Have Nots: Atari 2600 (35)
Almost disqualified due to its extreme rarity,
but you can still enjoy it via emulation, or using the .wav file on a
modified Supercharger or (my preference) a Cuttle Cart. My first
reaction is expecting this game to be really watered down on the 2600 -
but they did a decent job of capturing most of the arcade essence. The
Gameplay is clearly limited in the play area being only 24 blocks 4X6
versus 5X10 for most versions.
This and a reduced number of ladders, solid
spaces and enemies is difficult to overlook. Most of the changes are not
too bad, just different than the arcade. All the extras like flashing
keys, clones, flag poles, letters, slanted stairs, and a warning when
changing back to unicorns take their toll, but still the gameplay is
decent (6) and much more complex than most 2600 games. The unicorn color
sequence is changed to Red, Yellow, Green, but they appear to function
the same as the arcade. Stairs cannot be kicked once a monster gets on
it and the scoring is very much simplified. If you’re a huge Mr. Do’s
Castle fan, then you may be disappointed, but if you’re a 2600 fan,
you’ll be impressed. The Addictiveness is good enough (6) that you’ll
have some fun. Prepare yourself for a learning curve on where to stand
and swing. Get used to standing almost of air to get the job done and be
warned abut awkward collision detection. You cannot use the hammer to
push enemies back, but at least you can quickly reset this version as
you learn all its differences. The Graphics are not bad (6) and despite
mono-colored objects, overall there is enough detail to determine what
is going on and several colors per scene. The score is visible during
gameplay, but in between lives, it is replaced to show the number of
lives remaining and letters towards the “EXTRA” life. There’s not much
animation, and as you see all the gameplay elements unfold, there’s
another learning curve to figure out what everything looks like and what
it means. Just hang in there and pretend it is the arcade version. The
Sound is very good (7) with wonderful and changing musical scores.
Trouble is zero sound effects are included. The music takes over all
sounds with five musical scores - which fortunately tells you what you
really need to know. The
Controls are perfect (10).
Bronze Medal: Atari 8 bit (43)
My first reaction was how cheated we are that
there are no game play options on a computer version. Parker Brothers
(Coleco perhaps) – should be flamed for this. Despite no options, the
Gameplay is very nice (8), pretty much all there save for the keys
flashing and flag poles, which are replaced by spelling out the word
“EXTRA”. This version has one additional block in screen width, giving
it a larger 5X11 playfield than all others. Addictiveness is fun to play
(7), but again they took away a pause feature and you may not be able to
<reset> every time without rebooting. The Graphics are enjoyable (8),
but this may be pushing it as the monsters only have one color, and the
details and animation are not that great. Sound is awesome (10) with all
musical scores and all but one effect (squishing of an Alpha Monster).
Controls are perfect (10). Cart version was only released via prototype,
but you can easily find this one on disk or use an SIO2PC cable or
Silver Medal: Colecovision (45)
My first reaction was there is a pause button!
<*>. Nothing else works but the fire button, and moving.
Thanks Coleco./PB. The Gameplay is better than,
but matches the Atari score (8). There are flashing keys and one flag
pole with room for all 5 flags. On this version only, if you hit the
unicorns in head too often, they turn the next color. Addictiveness is
very fun (8), with the pause adding a point. The reset button is quick
as you skip the 15 second CV BIOS. The Graphics are outstanding (9) with
more details, better animation and colors than the Atari. Still only
mono-colored monsters. Like the C64 below, all lives bonus letters,
score, and the “scene” + number are displayed. Sound excels like the
Atari (10), but still missing a squish for the Alpha Monsters. Controls
are perfect (10) if you use an Atari controller. This would preclude the
use of the pause, but you may play flawlessly using the CV or Amiga
Gold Medal: Commodore 64 (46)
My first reaction was disappointment since
there are almost no gameplay options - but this game is incredible in
the other categories. I can easily say this version is the best in every
category. The Gameplay is impressive (8), with the added choice of 3 or
5 lives (unsure if this adds more/less difficulty), and the only version
with a two player game. Addictiveness is pleasant (8) with a pause <F7>,
and quick restart via <restore>. The Graphics are a work of art (10)
using every part of the screen, two player scores are along the top
wall, the five flags wave along the top of the screen and nothing is
missing from the game. Full multi-colored objects, animation clarity and
details. Even a changing basement color with each scene. The Sound is
also magnificent (10), with all musical scores, and all effects well
done: startup, background, falling unicorns, falling Do!, 3rd key,
shield, hitting blocks, squish Alpha Monsters, repairing blocks, kick
stairs, death, end level, EXTRA life, clone, death, game over. Controls
are also perfect (10). Bad news is its only available on disk, but try
emulation if nothing else.
Thanks: Special thanks to Steve Knox who helped
suggest a few things to get a few of my games up and running when my
deadline was almost up. Steve also traded me the Atari 8 bit disk
version a few years ago.
Come back next time for start of the 20th
Anniversary tributes for 1984, with the long awaited, Many Faces of
“Pitfall II” on the Atari 2600, 5200, 8 bit, C64 ,CV, Apple II &
Intellivision (just kidding, I know everyone wished there was one for
the INTY?) Contact Alan Hewston at:
Hewston95@NOSPAMstratos.net or visit the Many
Faces of site:
Once again, I will
list a site that sells classic games. Now that I am done with that, I
am more than happy to point my former customers into their direction. I
know that you need classic games and I am more than happy to help you
I first saw a link for a Atari
Christmas Ornament that they offered (sorry, but I am pretty sure they
are sold out now). But after checking out the site, I found it to be a
very nice site with alot of stuff for classic game fans. They offer
systems, games and more and they have a very large selection to choose
from. Check out the site at the following link:
While checking out the Packrat site,
I saw a link for this site. I followed it and found an interesting
video game idea. It is for a Kiss game for the Atari 2600. While the
game was never made, it is an interesting concept and I am sure it would
have been much better than the horrible Kiss Pinball game that was
released for the Playstation. Check out one man's dream for a Kiss
video game for the 2600. We all need a dream.
This issue is now
done and it is time to wish everyone a happy holiday! No matter what
your faith is, I hope the holidays are good to you and your family. I
know that I look forward to enjoying some time with the family. Check
back next month as another issue will be here for you to read in the new
year. Yes, it is almost 2004 and time to get new calendars. Now if we
could get someone to do a classic game themed calendar, that would be
(This issue was done while listening to a bunch of songs from the 70's
like "Sweet City Woman" by the Stampeders, "Moonlight Feels Right" by
Starbuck and "Love the One You're With" by Stephen Stills.)