The Art of Atari’s Video Olympics

Welcome back to another walk through the artist’s gallery that is Cart Art, a weekly look at some of the best (and worst) that video game art has to offer. This week, we once again look at an Atari game, a collection of pong style games called Video Olympics. To be honest, I never even heard of this game before a few days ago. I just know that for awesome art, the games produced by Atari for the 2600 during the early 1980’s are a constant source of awesomeness and Video Olympics does not disappoint.

Video Olympics

For those familiar with this era of video games produced by Atari will recognize the box style layout and text. I do not like the red text on yellowy box color pattern, like some sort of reverse mustard on hotdog motif. Makes my eyes want go on strike until working conditions get better. We also have a list of the games that make up these Olympics including Soccer, Volleyball, Hockey, Basketball and Quadrapong. You guys remember the 1980 US Quadrapong team? A rag tag bunch of college kids that came together as a team to defeat the invincible East German team for the gold medal in a 17 Overtime Quadrapong slug fest? Yeah, me neither.

On the top left hand corner of the picture we have 3 people playing racket sports. We have our female player who seems way too happy to be on the cover of this game. Above her is a male tennis player who seems to be reaching for a thin can of Mountain Dew while he gets smashed in face by the guy with the handball racket. That guy playing racket ball in the blue shirt has one sweet mustache. The more guys on the cover of video games with upper lip flavor savers, the better. By the way, I have no clue what that white sphere behind the three of them is supposed to be. Maybe the world’s largest Ping Pong ball?

To the right hand corner we have three guys playing basketball. The larger player looks like he is taking the world’s most painful jump shot, as if he is getting fouled just off camera with a broadsword. With the two players going for the rebound, the player in blue has both a fantastic dirt lip and an afro. Well done, good artist, well done. These players remind me why I am so happy the short shorts in the NBA are done and gone. Question: Why do the hands of the player who is taking the jump short and the player with his hand on rim suddenly turn white? Take a close look at the big shooter’s white hand. Is that even a hand? What terrible accident occurred to turn a man’s hand into that?

On the bottom right hand we have a pair of folks playing some intense volleyball. I don’t really have much to say about them expect that the player with the darker shirt may be guilty of a net foul. Dead center we have a great image of a goalie that looks straight out of the 1980’s Olympic hockey’s team scrap box. The split second I looked at the box, I was drawn to the goalie and how much it reminded me of Jim Craig. Look at his eyes though. There is something behind those eyes, a lot of pain and regret. Behind those eyes lies the soul of man who wanted nothing more than to play Quadrapong for the United States. But no, his father was not going to have no Qudrapong player in his family, no way in heck! Look Dad! Now I’m a goalie on the cover of a video game! Are you happy now! I killed my dream for you Dad!

I may need to stop looking at this cover for awhile.

The last bit of artwork on the bottom is a soccer goalie reaching out to make a nice two hander save. I am not sure if the player is a guy, a girl or some sort of black haired Dutch boy on break from sticking his finger in the dyke. Tell me something, is that player wearing a skirt? Seriously, the don’t look like shorts do it? What better way to play the most popular game in world then in one sexy micro mini.

And now it’s time for another installment of “Things I Noticed After Staring at This Cover for Way too Long”

  • What are the double red lines running through the background of the artwork? I don’t have a witty remark here, I just want to know why they are there.
  • Does every player in this scene wear the number 24? That the artist’s birthday or favorite number or something?
  • Quadrapong is a registered trademark!!???
  • Did a small fog bank roll in around the waist of the soccer goalie?
  • Even more with the goalie: Who designs a uniform to have black stripe under the armpit but not have them loop around the shoulders or anywhere else?

Low and behold we have come to the bitter sweet conclusion of another trip into the world of video game box graphic design. Have a suggestion for the next Cart Art? Then put it in the comments section! Now if you excuse me, I need to put on my clogs, strap on the hurl-bat arm guard and tape up the knees because it’s Quadrapong time!


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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