If you are a true gamer, you have at least asked yourself this question once: “Why is it that some classic video games have some of the most obscure sequels?” Let’s take the American version of “Super Mario Bros. 2” for example. It may seem similar in gameplay at first, yet it’s completely different from the original game. As a matter of fact, it IS a completely different game; it’s “Doki Doki Panic!” with swapped sprites and slightly different music. The original “Super Mario Bros. 2” from Japan was deemed too hard for Western audiences, so Nintendo decided to give us something completely different. Now, let us turn our attention to Universal (the video game manufacturer, not the movie studio) gave us a similar experience 30 years ago with “Mr. Do’s Castle”.
First, a little history: Universal, the creator of the first Mr. Do game, was working on a game called “Knights vs. Unicorns”, which was pretty much an updated version of their 1980 video game “Space Panic”. However, Universal’s American branch approached their Japanese counterpart and told them to change “Knights vs. Unicorns” into a Mr. Do game, due to the success of the first game. Thus, “Mr. Do’s Castle” was born.
“Mr. Do’s Castle” was released in 1983, one year after its predecessor, “Mr. Do!”, was released. Like its predecessor, it became quite popular, receiving more than a dozen home ports throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Unlike the first game, where you dig around underground collecting cherries and through a magic ball at monsters, you must instead guard your castle from an army of fuzzy “unicorns” by using a magic hammer to drop blocks on their heads.
“Mr. Do’s Castle” is definitely a step up from its predecessor in the graphics department. Mr. Do is still sporting his red-and-white-spotted clown suit, while the so-called “unicorns” look more like fuzzy orange narwhals with green Mohawks and goofy smiles. The foreground graphics are slightly more detailed and colorful than its predecessor, but I do want to point out the backgrounds. The brick structures that make up the castle are present, rather than just a plain black background. Bold greens, purples, and oranges help make the pastel-colored characters and light-brown platforms stand out very well, and they aren’t hard on the eyes. The only change in the graphics that wasn’t made were the letters in the word “EXTRA”, which look and move exactly like they did in the previous game. I’m not complaining, though.
I don’t know about you, but there’s only so much of the Can-Can that I can take. “Mr. Do!”, like many early arcade games, used music from the Public Domain for its background music. “Mr. Do’s Castle”, on the other hand, has its own original background music, and the main theme very, very, VERY catchy. I’m such a dork; I took the time to explore as many of the home ports as I could just to listen to the different musical arrangements on each system. There are two main themes in the game, the one being what I just discussed, and the other main theme, which is also the “EXTRA” letters’ theme, which can be achieved when the three Key Blocks are knocked down and the Cross at the very top of the castle is obtained, turning all the unicorns on the field into random letters from the word “EXTRA”.
The game’s sound overall is very reminiscent of its predecessor. Rather than use actual “sounds”, the game instead uses its music to emulate sounds, from mashing a bunch of note together when a block falls on a unicorn and smashes it, to the loud DING which is heard when Mr. Do hits a block with his hammer.
“Mr. Do’s Castle” is just as addicting as the first game. Trying to explain why a game is addicting for these reviews is the hardest thing for me to do, because for me, the game is addicting because…well, it just IS. The simple controls, catchy music, colorful graphics, and gameplay just make it a lot of fun to play. I’ll definitely be playing it more often in the future.
Again, no storyline here. Just endless wave after endless wave of unicorns.
There are 8 castle layouts in “Mr. Do’s Castle”; once you get through all of them, you’ll start with the first layout again and work your way through all of them. The unicorns become faster, smarter, and more aggressive as you go on, until the game becomes nearly impossible to beat.
There are four ways to beat each level: knocking out all of the cherry blocks, collecting all of the letters in the word “EXTRA”, eliminating all unicorns, and finding a hidden diamond, which grants you a free game (which is very rare; it only happened to me once). This game isn’t too “deep”, but it does offer alternate layouts and different ways to complete the game.
For first-time players, I’d be very surprised if you make it past the third level on one credit. The game starts out moderately easy, but the difficulty quickly climbs after each level. Watch out for those blue unicorns; they’re fast, and they also multiply without warning.
Overall (NOT AVERAGE): 8.3
“Mr. Do’s Castle” is very good overall, though I did like the original slightly better. However, this game is definitely worth checking out. I have yet to check out the games “Mr. Do’s Wild Ride” and “Do! Run Run”, though I have bad feeling they will NOT hold up as well as the first to Mr. Do!” games have.