Pioneering Namco artist Hiroshi 'Mr. Dotman' Ono passes away


Composed iconic sprites for Dig Dug, Galaga, and Xevious

Video game artist Hiroshi Ono — better known by his digital pseudonym “Mr. Dotman” — passed away on October 16 at the age of 64.

Ono was responsible for the creation of some of gaming’s most iconic, formative visuals. Joining fledgling studio Namco in 1979, Ono’s masterful use of pixel graphics created sprites, stages, and characters that remain instantly recognizable to the video game community some 40 years later. Ono’s work includes Namco’s early run of arcade releases including 1981’s Galaga, 1982’s Dig Dug, and Pole Position, and 1983’s Xevious. Classics one and all. Ono’s work is also featured in the marquee and cabinet designs for games such as Pac-Man and Mappy.

Following the company’s early success, Ono would remain with Namco for over 30 years, eventually leaving in 2013 to work as a freelance artist. The news of his passing was met with great sadness by his associates within the industry, including Tekken director Katsuhiro Harada, Streets of Rage composer Yuzo Koshiro, and Square Enix artist Kazuko Shibuya. It appears that Ono was as respected by his peers as an individual as he was by video game fans as an artist.

At the time of Ono’s passing, his “Mr. Dotman Team” was in the process of crowdfunding a documentary about the artist’s life and career. The team has stated that it will offer an update on its plans regarding this project in the future.