Cart Art: Missile Command

Welcome back Retro fans, glad to see you here for another edition of Cart Art. This week we will tackle the Atari classic, Missile Command. I have a confession. I never really played this game as a youngster. I don’t know why, I just never like it until I got much older. Now, nothing says fun quite like halting a non-stop barrage of city destroying nuclear ICBMs. With that said, let’s get on with the show.

Missile Command

The first thing that draws the eye to this piece of Atari art is the orange box (which is not to be confused with The Orange Box). I think the choice if orange is a stroke of genius. If I was walking down an isle of video games, the bright, bold orange draws the eyes quickly and makes me look at the game. That’s what you want in box art, something that says “Hey look at me. I’m awesome!” In addition, the orange blends very well with the colors in the artwork, working perfectly with the uniforms and explosions. Lastly, the orange to me conjures up images of “warnings” or “danger” which is what Missile Command is about, the dangers of ICBM attacks. Yellow would have been to bright for the text to work and red would have been a bit to ho-hum. But orange, that’s some symmetry.

As for the title and text, is it nothing special, the same kind of font you see on many other Atari games. I do enjoy how the box touts there are 34 video games inside of the box. I loved how these old games would advertise slightly different modes and colors as separate games. Though, some attempts at “multi games” on one cart have been less than stellar (Action 52 anyone?). I wonder why the creators of the box decided to tell us the game includes Interplanetary Ballistic Missiles and Anti-ballistic Missiles. As if the images of exploding missiles on the cover was not enough. No, we need to make sure that everyone knows that this game has BOTH Interplanetary Ballistic Missiles AND Anti-ballistic Missiles.

The real show of this cart art is the top right quadrant of the artist rendering. There is no way on Earth those two missile commanders are drawn the way they are without the late 1970’s/early 1980’s science-fiction shows on TV, especially Battle Star Galatica and Buck Rodgers. First things first, let go with the star of the show, the male missile commander.

It is good to know, that in the future when our cities are faced with the threat of nuclear annihilation, Henry Winkler (aka, the Fonz) is there to save us. Seriously, that’s Henry Winkler! Look at the helmet. Is it me or did the helmet the Viper pilots wear in the original Battle Star Galactica have a baby with helmets the rebels wore on the cruiser Princess Leia was captured on? Also, he is wearing gold bracers. GOLD BRACERS! Any military organization that had bracers as part of their uniform, I want to enlist in. Plus a white armband with a rainbow style missile patch on it? Fantastic.

There is one detail that is almost lost in the exhaust of a missile is the Fonz picking up a red telephone. We have all seen about a billion cold war/nuclear control rooms that have the red phone. I think this helps to brings the image of a war room when ICBM are streaking down. It is a staple of cold war fiction and I am happy the artist decided to put it in.

Now a little thing I call, “Things I Noticed Because I was Staring at this Image for Way Too Long:

– The Female missile commander seems bored. Also, might be kinda cold in that command center, if you catch my drift.
– Why does one bracer have a square on it and the other doesn’t? That a communicator? A rank insignia? A Hershey Nugget Candy he is going to eat later?
– Why is there one farm that is all brown? Lazy farmer.
– That is one comfy looking chair. I mean man, I could sleep all day in something like that.

I hope all you out there in Retro-land enjoyed this little jaunt in the world of video game cartridge based artistic endeavors. If you have any requests, please feel free to list them in the comments and if I don’t immediately gouge my eyes out after looking at the cover, I just may review it. Now if you excuse me, the Fonz and I have a planet to save. That is if I don’t nod off in the comfy chair while looking at my shiny gold bracers.


OffisaPups is a lover of fine retro gaming (video as well as board), classic comic strips and has a noggin filled with decades of television ads and song lyrics. Due to fears of a zombie apocalypse, do not approach OffisaPups while groaning, staggering with out-stretched arms, or requesting brains. Needless to say, OffisaPups has a very understanding and patient wife and a daughter who has no hope of a normal, non-dork upbringing.

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