Old ads for arcade games

Originally published at: Old ads for arcade games | Boing Boing


OK, wait wait, you’re telling me all of that talking, “Where’d he go? Get your speargun. He’s over there.” was part of the game? How utterly bizarre.

But fact they didn’t have ANY screen caps of the game in the ad makes sense once you see how blase they are.

It does remind me of the old arcade game death race. As I understand it, is a rare cabinet today, but I remember seeing this game at the skating rink in my old home town.


Box and cabinet art went a long way in terms of making up for the primitive graphics of early games.


That’s one lesson Atari learned really, really well with the box art on the 2600


Yeah, but they didn’t show that in the ad, even. It’s goofy pics of a model in diving mask and a butt.

“OH yeah, look at that butt. I better order this arcade game sight unseen Thrust and munch, baby, thrust and munch!”

ETA - also, 275lbs crated? Were they made of bricks?


They were largely made of plywood and MDF with sheet metal control panels, they had heavy CRT monitors and power transformers, and keep in mind that includes the crate.


Ah, the “good old days” of gaming, when images of the actual games, in ads or box art, were downright undesirable, because of how primitive they were. The actual game ruined the fantasy created by the promotional images. Plus, you could pretty much guess what any given game looked like, as a still (there were only so many ways of depicting a shark/diver in that many pixels), and gameplay was primitive enough you could pretty much imagine that, too (everything hung on pretty subtle differences).

It really struck me at the time when the box art stopped being elaborate images that tried to evoke a mood but had nothing to do with the game itself, and started having a real relation to the images in the game. That started consistently being true only pretty recently. (Then came promotional images from the game, and now you regularly see images that are stylized/simplified compared to what’s in the game.)


“Hey lookit! Pele’s Soccer!”
(Opens box)
“The cartridge says Championship Soccer. Nothing here about Pele…”


That continued even into the 8-bit era (Though I appreciated the old NES games that did use sprite artwork like Kung Fu or Excite Bike.)

Many times the box art was better than the game, but some games had box art that was way worse than the game.


I feel like the shift away from that only really happened in the '90s - and to a lesser and lesser degree, game images that were substantially better/not reflecting the games at all continued into the '00s. Though at that point, it had less to do with the game’s graphics and more to do with a failure of imagination on the part of the games. (I recollect one late '90s game where the ads had evocative, mysterious imagery that had absolutely nothing to do with the game, which was visually polished but extremely generic and cliched. Both these things were true at that point precisely because they had spent relatively large amounts of money on both.)

Now marketing and games are usually in sync because those low-budget indie games are labors of love where developers are responsible for the marketing, too, and want to make sure it accurately reflects what they were going for in the game, and the big budget games want to be sure you see their shiny graphics.

i dunno – i mean, it was all so new at the time, and we were so excited by it all that we were fine using our imaginations. the graphics at the time were fine.


Dang, the Konomi GT model is jacked!

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