DG_ThenNowForever

Classic video game art

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Thought others might appreciate this look at the Magnavox Odyssey box art: http://www.acriticalhit.com/best-box-art-part-1-magnavox-odyssey/

 

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So how do you add new games to a console that can’t accept new programming? By treating the console like a special component for high-tech board games.

 

Each game came with a new set of instructions, additional game pieces, and maybe even a second board to supplement the one on your TV. Your TV was converted into a “board” using translucent color overlays, with pieces you could move around using the controllers.

 

The overlays were the reason for the game boxes’ odd shape and size. They didn’t want to fold or crease the overlays, so they rolled them up inside a long box.

A 1972-style Magnavox Odyssey box unfolded. 1972 Odyssey game template, unfolded.

I know this doesn’t sound anything like video games as we know them today, but considering that you couldn’t play them without the corresponding video game console, let’s just agree that these were video games of an early and experimental variety.

 

The packaging design was equally experimental. The repeating “Odyssey” logo (in a font called Moore Computer) is rad as hell, but the rest of the art consisted of just the game title (in a custom-made non-bold version of Moore Computer), a small “screenshot” of the overlay, and a short description on front.

 

In a particularly bold (or confusing) move, the back was left completely blank. With no established model to follow, they were just making it up as they went along!

 

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As a kid, I was always bothered by the severely off-model Mega Man on the box/cartridge art of Mega Man II:

bedzXsPaTEG6u6Ss3A5w_web_storeicon_megam

 

 

All subsequent games had a more honest representation of our guy, but that one was weird and always sticks out to me.

 

I thought it was cool but also frustrating that Final Fantasy III leaned so hard on those beautiful handmade watercolors of characters in the manual (which was HUGE for a manual those days, had to be five times the size of a standard-issue SNES game manual) that the sprites couldn't come close to replicating.

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10 minutes ago, the admiral said:

As a kid, I was always bothered by the severely off-model Mega Man on the box/cartridge art of Mega Man II:

bedzXsPaTEG6u6Ss3A5w_web_storeicon_megam

 

 

All subsequent games had a more honest representation of our guy, but that one was weird and always sticks out to me.

 

I thought it was cool but also frustrating that Final Fantasy III leaned so hard on those beautiful handmade watercolors of characters in the manual (which was HUGE for a manual those days, had to be five times the size of a standard-issue SNES game manual) that the sprites couldn't come close to replicating.

Why does Wily look like Dr Light? I just noticed this after 30 years

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I loved the Final Fantasy VI/III artwork: 

 

ddb0lq1-2cfd88c1-ca9f-46e6-afbd-966ac7ea

 

The game itself looks only passingly like the weird sprite-filled world, but it better represented the steampunk-tinted collage of style the game wants to immerse the player.

 

The original NA release (I believe, anyway) was terrible.

 

hqdefault.jpg

 

Yo :censored:aka Amano's artwork is the best the franchise has to offer, and drew me in as a kid.  I've played a bit of FFV, and couldn't get into FFVII at all, so I'm hardly a connoisseur of the franchise's artistic offerings, but if the last few Notice Me Senpai-looking FF games are an indication, I'm not missing much.

 

Plus there's something wonderful about the old SNES boxes.  The random 90s design crap everywhere and the Official Nintendo Seal of Quality sticker.  All makes it feel, to a kid back then anyway, that inside that box is something important, official, and enchanting.

 

-----

 

13116-sonic-the-hedgehog-2-genesis-front

 

Sonic's box art during their heyday was mostly garbage, but Sonic 2 is great.  The colors explode off the box, and there's design elements everywhere:  Gradients, shading, patterns, the embossed steel-blade Genesis emblem on top and the vivid SEGA seal - shinier than Nintendo's!  Whenever I'd visit my friend who had a Sega I'd always marvel at the Sonic 2 box art (and Sonic 2 on the screen, of course).

 

Compare that to the SMW box art, and it's no contest:

 

71TbLYKMk4L._AC_SX425_.jpg

 

I think SMW was one of the last to get the Seal of Quality. 

 

The SMW2:YI box art was more "fun" but it felt like too little too late.  The torn corner was an afterthought, and without a badge, something felt off.

 

Yoshi's_Island_(Super_Mario_World_2)_box

 

 

 

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Phalanx_North_American_SNES_box_art.jpg

I actually never played this game, but it's the first thing I think of when "bad game box art" comes to mind.

 

Mega Man 2's might have been bad, but Mega Man 1's is atrocious.

MegaMan1_NESBOX.jpg

 

 

although I gotta say I love that they went back to the atrociousness when they made Mega Man 9 and 10's box art

 

Megaman9cover.jpg

220px-Megaman10.jpg

 

I always hated that Japan got this:

nintendo-super-famicom---street-fighter-

 

and us kids in the US got this:

snes_street_fighter_ii_2_turbo_p_b3pmml.

 

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The game is not so bad. The box art sucks doorknobs.

 

spacer.png

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19 hours ago, thaipod said:

Mega Man 2's might have been bad, but Mega Man 1's is atrocious.

MegaMan1_NESBOX.jpg

 

Namco somehow ended up putting him in Street Fighter X Tekken under the name Bad Box Art Mega Man. It's incredible. Also yes, Pac-Man is piloting a robot in the video.

 

 

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Blades of Steel is still the greatest sports video game cover of all time.70

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On 2/11/2020 at 9:53 AM, CherryMX said:

I loved the Final Fantasy VI/III artwork: 

 

ddb0lq1-2cfd88c1-ca9f-46e6-afbd-966ac7ea

 

The game itself looks only passingly like the weird sprite-filled world, but it better represented the steampunk-tinted collage of style the game wants to immerse the player.

 

The original NA release (I believe, anyway) was terrible.

 

hqdefault.jpg

 

Yo :censored:aka Amano's artwork is the best the franchise has to offer, and drew me in as a kid.  I've played a bit of FFV, and couldn't get into FFVII at all, so I'm hardly a connoisseur of the franchise's artistic offerings, but if the last few Notice Me Senpai-looking FF games are an indication, I'm not missing much.

 

Plus there's something wonderful about the old SNES boxes.  The random 90s design crap everywhere and the Official Nintendo Seal of Quality sticker.  All makes it feel, to a kid back then anyway, that inside that box is something important, official, and enchanting.

 

There's something about Final Fantasy artwork. I'm jealous Japan consistently gets beautiful, minimalist box arts like this one:

spacer.png

That's not to say America's was bad, but there's something about the gorgeous logo rendered on pure white that makes those old box arts so incredible and timeless.

There's definitely something to be said about just the plain logo on a solid background:

spacer.png

spacer.png

spacer.png

Maybe it's just a Zelda thing, though.

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On 2/11/2020 at 8:53 AM, CherryMX said:

 

lol the system works

 

I was a big, big fan of the art for Final Fantasy's quirky half-sibling, Secret of Mana:

30332-secret-of-mana-snes-front-cover.jp

 

I think this cover told you a lot about the game. It's a very lush, alive game. The Indonesian influences on the music have a lot to do with that, I think. I always found the menu wheels to make for pretty clunky mechanics, so in terms of playing a game it was a pain in the ass, but in terms of inhabiting a world, it was lovely.

 

EDIT: just realized Secret of Mana is what got me into Steve Reich later in life

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On 2/11/2020 at 8:53 AM, CherryMX said:

The original NA release (I believe, anyway) was terrible.

 

hqdefault.jpg

 

 

RPGs were a hard sell in America because the market was used to storytelling being secondary to fulfilling objectives (extrapolate this to American culture at large as you wish). Square USA probably leaned hard on the Moogles as a mascot because they figured Mog could be their Yoshi/Sonic, and that playing a game with cute anthropomorphic creatures was a surer sell than "basically the plots of Star Wars and Tim Burton Batman as filtered through a Japanese half-understanding of both crossed with a half-understanding of European/Levantine mythology."

Look at this spot, it's insane! Imagine buying this game thinking it's the whimsical adventure of a chubby white blob that shoots lightning, only to find out that it's really about A GIRL who is struggling to regain agency after a life of trauma, who joins forces with anti-imperialist terrorists and ANOTHER GIRL who has also been traumatized, and also the white blob comes in about one-third of the way through, but mostly you're solving mazes and puzzles and doing math and being made to feel bad for small globs of pixels because you're constantly being told that people commit acts of evil because nothing matters and we'll all die anyway. Also, the game was $60 in 1994 money. Kids probably just wanted to shoot lightning with the blob. And that's how I was able to buy it used at FuncoLand for $40 in 1995 money.

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6 hours ago, the admiral said:

 

lol the system works

 

I was a big, big fan of the art for Final Fantasy's quirky half-sibling, Secret of Mana:

30332-secret-of-mana-snes-front-cover.jp

 

I think this cover told you a lot about the game. It's a very lush, alive game. The Indonesian influences on the music have a lot to do with that, I think. I always found the menu wheels to make for pretty clunky mechanics, so in terms of playing a game it was a pain in the ass, but in terms of inhabiting a world, it was lovely.

 

EDIT: just realized Secret of Mana is what got me into Steve Reich later in life


One of my all time favorites. The music alone is incredible.  

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15 hours ago, MDGP said:

Blades of Steel is still the greatest sports video game cover of all time.70


Just played this a few months back.  Still extremely fun. 

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To continue the Squaresoft appreciation the artwork for Secret of Evermore is one of my favorites.

spacer.png

 

I also like the simplicity of the Sonic and Knuckles cover.

spacer.png

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Wasn't Secret of Evermore just a real half-assed attempt to make a more Western-friendly Secret of Mana? 

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As a kid, I was struck by how much the Electronic Arts games stuck out from standard Genesis games, both in box art and cartridge design. NHLPA 93, for example, looked pretty nice, but the EA Sports rebranding was really elegant in its simplicity:

IMG_3694.jpg

 

And while I wasn't a huge fan of sports games in the 90s, I did appreciate how well EA branded itself as the cool video game sports brand. "It's in the game" was really just icing on the cake.

 

Related to Street Fighter, the Japanese art was sweet, but I liked the sweaty American look of the USA games:

sf2.jpg

2364793-snes_streetfighterii.jpg

 

In hindsight, it's kind of crazy Capcom allowed series hero Ryu to look like a chump on the box cover, but it kind of shows a disconnect between who the box artist assumed would be the most popular character (obviously the big green dude with the wild hair!). Of the mainline SF2 games, I think SF2:SCE had the best art. Guile looks sweet, even if he's getting his ass kicked.

 

 

 

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The EA sports games for the longest while were all about white backgrounds with a photograph.  They basically all looked the same.  I never found them particularly enchanting, but it lent itself toward the simulation-nature of the games.  You weren't firing up an arcade game - this was "serious."

 

 

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15 hours ago, DG_ThenNowForever said:

In hindsight, it's kind of crazy Capcom allowed series hero Ryu to look like a chump on the box cover, but it kind of shows a disconnect between who the box artist assumed would be the most popular character (obviously the big green dude with the wild hair!). Of the mainline SF2 games, I think SF2:SCE had the best art. Guile looks sweet, even if he's getting his ass kicked.

 

See, I always felt like Guile was kinda marketed as the main character stateside, for obvious reasons. Part of this may have been that I first got into Street Fighter right around the movie came out, where JCVD as Guile was definitely the lead, and so Nintendo Power kinda followed that. I don't think Ryu was really the consensus lead character until the switchover to Street Fighter Alpha, the release of which I remember being rather unhappy about. Personally, I always played as Chun Li until I could play as Vega, Fei Long, or Cammy. I require very light handling, any time I tried to play as Zangief or Sagat I got wrecked before I knew what hit me.

 

Over on the Mortal Kombat side, I know Liu Kang was supposed to be the hero, but Sub-Zero and Raiden ended up being the fan favorites. SF Alpha and MK3 both made the same mistake of dropping too much of the ensemble everyone had grown comfortable with and making it more clearly a handful of featured characters and a bucket of schmucks. Rolento? That big Street Fighter guy with the blue head? That Mortal Kombat guy with the straps on his face? Just an Indian guy? Man. I don't know, I'm going off topic here.

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speaking of minimalist design being awesome:

 

spacer.png

 

Konami's box art in it's NES games were pretty boss.

 

castlevaniabox.jpg

 

Speaking of buff dudes in loincloths, the box art for Wizards and Warriors and it's sequel were bad ass, but it was funny that the character you played was a dude fully decked out in armor.

 

220px-Wizards_and_Warriors_NES_cover.jpg

 

Wizards_&_Warriors.png

 

Ironsword_cover.png

 

Ironsword.png

 

That looks nothing like Fabio!

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