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The Best Video Game Cover Art from Ultra Games
“When is a Konami game not a Konami game?” When it is an Ultra game.
Time for a little history lesson. Back in 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 than 5 games a year.
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 loophole by taking a look at the covers to some Ultra Games.
Oh, heck yeah! Robots playing baseball! Fightin’ on the base path and whatnot. 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 about the cutthroat world of basket weaving. Now, since this game came out in the late 80s, how do the Wars end in an S and not a Z? Base Warz! See, so much more 80s 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 is the bandages. Looking at the face of the hero on the front, with those thick glasses and a huge nose, I wonder if his hero mask is actually one 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 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 fat businessman in way too tight pants assaulting a mime trapped in an invisible box?
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 submachine 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 too 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, he is gearing up for a game of Photon! Looking at the Metal Gear itself, does it have enough firing ports on it? There are like 7 big ones and like 2 little ones branching off the top left-hand side. Is this thing steam powered?
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 80s: 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 1980s catchphrase overload there. My bad, my bad. Check out that shirt, all yellow, and full of 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 checklist:
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, talking rooms, and whatnots.