Universal‘s 1982 arcade game Mr. Do! is an iconic, early digging game, with chasing monsters and falling apples, and plenty of cute, Japanese surrealism.
You play as Mr. Do himself – a cute-looking circus clown – and the basic aim is to dig through the ground; collect the cherries, and avoid or kill the monsters by digging under apples and allowing them to fall onto them, squashing them, although there’s a bit more to it than that.
The monsters come out of a central point on the screen, and when all five are out the central point turns into a tasty snack (usually cake or ice cream), and if you eat the snack the monsters will freeze and three Pac-Man-like ghosts will come out, along with an ‘Alphamonster”, which carries a letter. Collect five letters, and spell the word EXTRA, and you get an extra life.
There are other subtle features in Mr. Do! that contribute to its greatness: a time limit whereby monsters mutate after a certain time and can then tunnel through the dirt themselves; levels can be completed by either killing all on-screen monsters, collecting all the cherries, or finding a rare hidden diamond (which also awards the player an extra credit); Mr. Do can also throw a ball which will destroy the monsters, but takes a short while to return to be usable again.
Mr. Do! is challenging and fair, though, and its colourful, cute graphics have captured the imagination of gamers for almost four decades now. It’s an undoubted arcade classic.
Note: in the original Japanese version of Mr. Do!, Mr. Do himself wasn’t a circus clown, he was snowman!
More: Mr. Do! on Wikipedia