Cart Art: Better Then Super, it’s Ultra!

Last time, on Cart Art, I left you with a little riddle: “When is a Konami game not a Konami game?” Well, when it is an Ultra game. Time for a little history lesson. Back in the the heyday of the Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo had a lot of rules in regards to who can release a game and when. One such rule was that no third party publisher could put out more then 5 games a year. Well that did not sit well with Konami who had all sorts of goodness in the pipeline. The solution? Konami formed a second studio, called Ultra Games in order to get around this 5 a year limit. Let us celebrate their loop hole by taking a look as the covers to some Ultra Games.

Base Wars
Base wars

Oh heck yeah! Robots playing baseball! Fightin’ on the base path and what not. This is one of those great covers that shows you exactly what the game is about. I do have a few issues with some of the text however. On the top, the cover states that this game is part of the Cyber Stadium Series. Were there any more games in this mythical Cyber Stadium Series? At least Mutant League had two games (Football and Hockey). Why not Basket Wars for basketball? Well I guess a title called Basket Wars sounds less about robots playing basketball and more of about the cut throat world of basket weaving. Now, since this game came out in the late 80’s, how does the Wars end in a S and not a Z? Base Warz! See, so much more 80’s then before.


I find it impossible to look at this cover and not immediately think of the seminal 1990 Liam Neeson film, Darkman. The only thing missing are the bandages. Looking at the face the hero on the front, with those thick glasses and huge nose, I wonder if his hero mask is actually on of those classic Groucho Marx novelty glasses. In addition, how many giant moons with Anubis dog heads does this city have? You have the big one in the background yet you also have the ones reflected in the hero’s sunglasses (at night, so I can, so I can. . . ) that are at a completely the wrong angle to reflect the moon in the background. It may be that the image I have is not high enough in the resolution department but the two little figures on the ground by the fence: why is a that fast business man in way to tight pants assaulting a mime trapped in an invisible box?

Metal Gear
metal gear

Now, we all know (well I know and now you will know if you did not know) that this cover is based on Michael Biehn’s character from the first Terminator movie. This cover in fan-friggin-tas-friggin-tic. So much is going on. For starters, could they cram any more accessories on that sub machine gun that Solid Snake is holding? It has a silencer, extended clip, shoulder strap and scope! Guess they couldn’t figure out to put a bayonet on it. Good thing that Double S decided to bring his bike lock along (his left shoulder), can’t be to careful around all those narcoleptic guards. I love the little wires and plugs that help sell the futuristic feel of the game. Wait a minute, the large white pack and plugs into the belt, Snake is not infiltrating Outer Heaven, she is gearing up for a game of Photon! Looking at the Metal Gear its self, does it have enough firing ports on it? There are like 7 big ones and like 2 little one branching off the top left hand side. Is this thing steam powered?

Skate Or Die
Skate or Die

How 1990 is this cover? If any of the following words do not immediately come to mind when you look at this cover, you did not live through the 80’s: Tubular, Radical (or simply just Rad), Ill, Sick, Mondo, Cowabunga, Where’s the Beef?, I Love What You Do For Me, Toyota! Whoa, sorry there folks, I got 1980’s catch phrase overload there. My bad, my bad. Check out that shirt, all yellow and full random shapes and patterns. And those shorts! Takes a brave man to rock powder blue jams. I greatly enjoy the pair of yellow rec specs right under the S in Skate. Perfectly random, no reason to be there yet the cover is way better with them.


After looking at this cover, don’t you want to play this game? The cover to Pirates! (or Pir-“larger A”-tes!) has it all. Let’s run down the check list:

– Open treasure chest overflowing with all sort of glitters and baubles? Check

– Skeleton reaching out to grab said chest? Check

– Awesome ship to ship cannon exchanges? Check

– Guy with peg leg fighting some Three Musketeer looking dude? Double Check.

– Naval chart wall paper? Check

– Intense evil skull pirate with eye patch, jaunty hat, bloodshot sunken eye, missing teeth and a stringy, waterlogged beard/mustache combo? Super mega ultra check!!!

You tally that all up and you will forget all about ninjas and robots or whatever else all those kids on the inter-webs argue on their chat posts and talking rooms and whatnots.

All good things (okay okay, mediocre things) must come to an end. I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane with the stop off on the video game cover cul-ed-sac. If you have a comments, questions or suggestions, please feel free to leave them in the comments section or send me an email at Next time, Cart Art cashes in and sells out when we take a look at some Advergames. Now if you excuse me, I’ve got my bike lock plugged into my belt, my eye patch is on tight, my ugly yellow shirt is clean and novelty big nose glasses are in place. It’s time to play a little of America’s cyber future pastime.


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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7 thoughts on “Cart Art: Better Then Super, it’s Ultra!

  1. Glen says:

    Jesus, I can’t believe I missed that acknowledgement from the first sentence of the freaking segment. Mods, please delete my post so I don’t look like an utter ‘tard. Thanks.

  2. vinvectrex says:

    Is that Sid Mier’s Pirates or a different version? Either way, it looks fantastic. And Glen – don’t sweat it – happens to the best of us!

  3. Atari Adventure Square says:

    Sure is Terminator’s Biehn, from that pose and comparative still from the link.
    But my first impression was a geared-up Don Johnson, from the cover soldier’s face and Miami Vice craze bleeding through from the late 80s.
    Maybe it would’ve been litigious to go full-on Kyle Reese with the facial depiction.

    That Pirates cover is the most piratey cover of pirate games.

    And that Basewars cover makes me wanna play ball with the ‘bots.

    Very game-playing inspiring covers, all around.
    Except for Nightshade. If it ain’t Darkman: The Groucho Missions, what’s the point?

  4. I have many fond memories of Nightshade, it was a very difficult title at the end though. Surprisingly it was also incredibly hilarious, it has anarchic squirrels in it.

    Another great article, OffisaPups!

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