Remembering awesome box art

Kotaku had an interesting showcase a few days ago, about video game box art from Psygnosis (nowadays known as Sony Studio Liverpool). You can find it here.

I remember the 80s and 90s in terms of console and computer (Amiga/PC) box art. While consoles generally had somewhat lesser quality, with a ton of Mega Man (now legendary for it’s horrible lack of quality) for every Gradius, due in part to the branding on the boxes, on computers the situation was a bit different.

I miss the big boxes of old, with their attractive, eye-catching look and size. When you looked at the boxes for games like Flashback, Another World, Dune II, Shadow of the Beast, or Beneath a Steel Sky, you were immediately transported to amazing, eerie alien worlds or captured by the iconic visuals. And since the in-game graphics at the time were limited, you projected that art using your imagination, making up for what the graphics lacked. There was a child-like sense of wonder there, one which hasn’t gone missing from me personally, but has disappeared from most of the market. Nowadays most boxes consist of realistic depictions of the main character, boobs, and violence.

The identity that Psygnosis went for in those days was fantastic, a Heavy Metal / 2000AD kind of look which just transported you away from the mundane, and into the fantastic.

I wanted to post this so everyone can take a glimpse into game art of old, and be inspired to be more creative in the future and break away from the current trends. Again, here is the link to the article, and the resource from where most of those pictures come from (which includes many more).

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3 Comments

  1. Posted 14.08.2010 at 09:07 | Permalink

    I think that part of the fascination back then was getting into this new interactive medium, unknown to most people, and full of great possibilities. Personally I didnt care about the game graphics being worse than the cover. You filled up all that with imagination, and just the fact of playing and interacting was sooo awesome and attracting …
    Even in the crappy stuff you could see that there was passion in the making, even with all that limited technical and artistic skills.

  2. Posted 09.08.2010 at 14:08 | Permalink

    It’s understandable that, as graphics evolved, box art started making more sense as a marketing tool and less as an artistic statement. However, what is regretable is that it’s pretty rare to find (in-game) the sort of imagination and surreal quality that these old covers transmitted. For all the great graphics we have nowadays, most games try to present some sort of stylized realism, they try to ground the game in reality, to try and be more appealing to the mass market.

  3. Posted 09.08.2010 at 08:04 | Permalink

    I totally agree with you about being transported to another world by the artwork of the games. I can’t tell you how many games I had bought with fantastic artwork on the box, only to find the game was not nearly as good as the artwork!
    Now with the internet, it seems the marketing strategy has changed. Not necessarily a bad thing but changed none the less.

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