Beloved ‘Galaga’ and ‘Pac-Man’ pixel artist Hiroshi Ono dead at 64

Hiroshi Ono, also known as the legendary Namco pixel artist Mr Dotman, has passed away at the age of 64.

Former Namco graphic designer Hiroshi Ono passed away due to a long-term illness at the age of 64 on October 16, as announced via a statement on his official Twitter page. A crowdfunding campaign for a documentary about his life further revealed that he had been suffering from suspected autoimmune disease hepatitis, and had been in hospital since early October.

Ono joined Namco in 1979, and contributed greatly to some of the company’s most iconic arcade games, many of which are still being played today. He continued to work for Namco after it merged with Bandai in 2006, before leaving to pursue freelance work and independent projects in 2013, including running a number of pixel art workshops. He was most well-known for his sprite work in Galaga and Dig Dug, and has created logos and cabinet art for other Namco games such as Pac-Man.

“[I just created] the initial conceptual image for them,” Galaga’s creator Shigeru Yokoyama said in a statement. “At first they didn’t look like [the final enemies] at all, they resembled Galaxian more. They were actually drawn by Hiroshi Ono, a designer who, from Galaga onwards, became famous for drawing these kind of sprites. He became known as Mr Dotman, an authority on pixel design, but these characters were the first he made.”

Ono’s influence on the Japanese gaming industry is massive, with fans and industry figures alike paying their respects to him and his legend. It is also heartening to know that the crowdfunding campaign has reached its goal and will continue, though it is a pity that Hiroshi Ono would not be able to watch the tribute dedicated to him.

Rest in peace, Mr Dotman.