Electron Dance
27Aug/10Off

He Who Judgeth By The Cover…

If it wasn't for having a grand old time watching Inception yesterday, I might be less charitable towards a three-part article that compares box art for Atari 2600 video games with the games themselves. It is a sniggering thing, the child in school mocking our stupid ancestors who thought the world was flat, who somehow should have known better. The sarcastic commentary implies the box art was an over-zealous attempt to hype up what was just a bunch of coloured blocks, a handful of electronic chirps and beeps.

There's nothing wrong with box art being abstract; the only difference is that graphics have now caught up with the ambitions of the box artist.

I condemned Bioshock trailers for not being representative of the actual game; isn't that just the same as the box art issue? No, of course not, I haven't got a hypocritical bone in my body and don't you forget it. The difference is those trailers are doing their damnedest to impress you that this is what the game will be like. No one would look upon box art, particularly in decades past, and expect it to be a fair representation of the game. There was no wool being pulled over anyone's eyes. No one was fooled or shocked that a perfect rendition of a fighter jet was not to be found in the game itself. Box art conjures mood, projects feel.

Why am I so prickly about this? Well, sir, these things are my childhood, my induction into the halls of gaming - and down the line, programming. If any XBOX noobs decide to travel into the past to convince Nolan Bushnell that he should use something a bit more authentic on his boxes, then don't be fucking surprised if I send some Skynet terminators along for the ride to hunt your sorry ass down.

Why don't you have a gander at some of the original Atari game boxes at this wonderful little Atari box art browser?

I have more to say on this, but for now, au revoir my pretties.

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Posted by HM

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Comments (3) Trackbacks (1)
  1. There were, though, a few egregious examples. Like Phalanx: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/0/05/Phalanx_Coverart.png

    A game which, despite it’s cover, was a scrolling space shooter and featured no banjo pickin’ overall wearin’ moonshine drinkin’ white bearded rednecks at all.

  2. Imagine the poor little ‘un with his SNES, a salty frown upon his face because the banjo player he was expecting to see never turned up, not even in a cutscene or a boss stage. He was probably inconsolable.

    Those marketing bastards.

    From the wikipedia page, there’s an IGN article celebrating the most awesome box art of all time. Although the meaning of the word awesome here is “a little bit shit”.

  3. I appreciate good box art, so it’s pretty disappointing when I find out that one region got markedly better art than another.

    Compare the PS2 game Shin Combat Choro Q’s colorful and unique box art (http://image.com.com/gamespot/images/bigboxshots/1/583311_25343_front.jpg) with the European/American version, Seek and Destroy (http://image.com.com/gamespot/images/bigboxshots/1/583311_front.jpg).

    In summary, BLEAGH. I plan on buying Seek and Destroy and replacing the box art immediately.