Mr Do versus Mr Dig

Reviewed by Jim Short

 

 

Issue 17

Sep/Oct 85

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MR DO

Datasoft
48k cassette

9.95


MR DO is a straight conversion of the arcade game of the same name. Having been slightly disappointed by the Atari version of DIG-DUG (though an improved version of the 16K ROM is apparently available in the States) I was anxious to see how well this version of MR DO from Datasoft compares with the arcade original.


The game is a long loader - well over 15 minutes, in fact - and quite obviously uses every single byte of the specified 48K. Whether it's worth the wait or not is another matter!


The action takes place in a field, of all places, during cherry harvest time. The idea is to guide MR DO around the screen collecting the cherries whilst defending yourself against the inevitable monsters. MR DO's main weapon is his magic powerball, which he throws at the monsters in order to destroy them. It takes a little while for the ball to return to his hand though, so you will have to seek out alternative ways to dispose of the monsters. Dotted about the field are several giant apples. These can be dropped onto the monsters for large bonus points. Boss monsters appear at various stages during the game. The Boss monsters carry letters corresponding to the word 'EXTRA' at the top of the screen. If you knock out all the individual letters making up the word 'EXTRA' you gain a bonus MR DO. A nice little animated sequence accompanies this event and gives you a short break from the proceedings. Time to catch your breath before returning to the action again.


Other types of monster you will encounter are henchmen - these appear along with the Boss monster and can be turned to harmless apples by knocking out the Boss monster - and diggers. Any monster can turn into a digger and these are particularly dangerous as they can dig tunnels through the soil to get at MR DO.

 

Watch out for the lucky diamonds which spill out of the apples on very rare occasions (make that extremely rare as I never came across one). These are worth a massive 8000 points, but, more importantly, they enable you to exit that particular screen without having to kill the remaining monsters.


The sound effects are excellent in this game and the tunes are sufficiently muted so as not to annoy you too much. In any case, they can be turned off altogether by pressing the `S' key. There is also a facility for left-handed players, which involves pressing the 'L' key and revolving the joystick a quarter turn clockwise. A good idea this, and one which other programmers may like to copy.

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Sadly, the graphics just aren't up to scratch considering the amount of memory used. My main criticism concerns the garne characters which are rather poorly defined. Colour choice could also have been better, I feel, and joystick control is awkward and sluggish. I found myself getting caught out far too easily, mainly because MR DO wouldn't respond quickly enough to the controls. The fact that the monsters move at almost twice the speed of MR DO doesn't exactly help matters!  I found this a difficult game to get to grips with.


MR DIG 

Microdeal 

32k cassette 

6.50


Considering that Microdeal first made their name releasing software for the dreadful Dragon 32 computer, and having had first-hand experience of one of their previous efforts for the Atari, namely 'Danger Ranger', you could hardly blame me for not expecting a great deal from MR DIG. However, I must admit I was pleasantly surprised. MR DIG is a splendid implementation of MR DO and is far and away the best Microdeal game I've ever seen.

Gameplay is fairly authentic to the arcade original, although there are one or two minor differences which may or may not be due to copyright reasons. MR DIG is much easier to play than the Datasoft version. It allows you to select from ten levels of difficulty ranging from 'Big Baby's Level' (easy) through to 'Masochist's Level' (impossible). During the course of the game itself you must complete a combination of several screens on the one level before advancing onto the next level, so you are given a better than even chance of getting the hang of the game early on before things start to get tricky.


On the whole the graphics are excellent. The various game characters are colourful, detailed, and easier to make out than their Datasoft counterparts. I particularly like the diggers in this game - they are very reminiscent of the 'snapjaws' in DONKEY KONG JNR. One tiny criticism concerns MR DIG's powerball. It is dull blue in colour and also a bit on the small side. Consequently you cannot always see if it has returned to MR DIG's hand unless you have bionic eyesight! Joystick response is faultless though, and gives the Datasoft game a proper showing-up in this department.


Sound is generally good, if rather brash at times. Unfortunately, there is no way you can turn it off from the computer, so I'm afraid you're stuck with it unless you turn it off altogether via the TV set.

 

MR DIG doesn't have the fancy animated sequences of its American rival, but it does have a 'Hall of Fame' high score table which the Datasoft version lacks.


SUMMARY


Purists may well prefer Datasoft's MR DO as the gameplay more closely follows that of the arcade original. If you're a hotshot at the arcade game you will certainly find MR DO more of a challenge than MR DIG. Personally, I felt that MR DO wes a little too hard and I think MR DIG will appeal to a wider range of computer gamesters.


In a game versus game comparison, I must plump for MR DIG. At 6.50 it is one of the cheapest good quality Atari games on the market. Incidentally, MR DIG was programmed by a lady programmer, Rita Jay. She deserves ten out of ten for this effort. Let's hope we see more games of the calibre of MR DIG for the Atari from other British software companies in the near future.

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