Friday, July 2, 2010

A Thoughtful Review of Some Atari 2600 Game Art

Artists for Atari 2600 game boxes were basically professional liars.

I mean I don't fault them for it, certainly pasting the box with a picture of the actual graphics wouldn't have done much to move those cartridges. I understand they had to spice it up a little, sell the sizzle to sell the sausage.*

But that being said, they took this:

And resolved it to this:

That . . . that is something of a jump, sir. I believe you may have misled a few purchasers of your product with that on the cover.

Combat, one of my first favorite games, committed similar sins with its rather artistic interpretation:

I can assure you, from first hand experience, that the actual game did not quite capture the excitement implied above. And by "not quite," I mean this:

Some games tried to be honest, though, and included at least a bit of the actual game on the box. The most notable example is Pac-Man:

But that juxtaposition of art and game just shows how really, truly bizarre the "narrative" is here. Seriously, what kind of drug-induced stupor led to this generational icon? A yellow thing that tries to eat a bunch of pellets, all the while being chased by ghosts, except sometimes he gets the right kind of pellet and can eat the ghosts so they turn into floating eyeballs.

And sometimes there's fruit.

Pac-Man is a lot like the original "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." Only when you go back to it after years of fond memories do you realize that it was all just someone's acid trip.

Of course, no conversation of 2600 games would be complete without the most notorious (-ly bad) of them all, "E.T.". Strangely, I find this to be the most genuine box art of the era:

Just look at their faces. Those blank, droopy eyes. The hopeful, yet confused gaze. That's truth in advertising, itself

Because that's exactly what you look like while playing that game.

"Buzz Aldrin has lost his sandwich, prepare to . . . fire a circle at some blocks."

No comments: