Judging a book by its cover is a foolhardy act, but for videogames, box art can serve as a doorway into the worlds they harbor.
Fantastic box art has been a staple of gaming since the early days of the NES. Modern artists the world over have even created imagery along the lines of cartridge displays and exhibitions for covers for games that don’t even exist.
Many of these covers are inspired by famous pieces of popular art. Some are even designed by the actual artist’s of those original works.
Presented here, and reflective only of my humble opinion, is a gallery of some of the most beautiful game boxes of all time.
I can’t recall the last time I read a game’s instruction manual out of necessity. It’s hard to remember that there once was an era of gaming where rules had to be learned and discussed before playing. Nowadays, titles usually either teach the player within the confines of the game or simply let them learn intuitively.
But there’s always another way to play a game. With strange, seemingly absurd, self-imposed rules, one can transform a well-known game into an entirely different experience.
Unlike modding, where players can physically create and/or modify a game, the action I describe is more metaphysical. Since there is no official word for playing a game with fan-made restrictions and rules, allow me to share some personal stories involving the craft. Below, I’ve listed the titles I’ve played in a unique way that I found challenging and fun.
For all of the bluster and fuss over “high brow” and “low brow” entertainment, books and videogames are not always so different from each other. Both can be vessels for detailed and highly engrossing narratives.
Many great games have drawn from a rich pool of literature, especially those of the East. The four great epics of China from which we have gotten Suikoden, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and the various adaptations of Journey to the West, all owe their inspiration to their famous source material.
In contrast, the Western canon seems like a well left untapped. Often a movie adaptation beats a game to the punch and we get a game that seems more like an afterthought than an actual faithful working of the source material. With that said, it’s high time we look to books if we are to look forward to some better games.
Here are several works from both classical and modern literature that could easily make for some killer titles.
Much like the duality between good and evil itself, gameplay based on moral decisions can either take the light or dark path in terms of its execution.
Though morality choices within games are nothing new, the feature itself seems to be a more modern trope. Series like Fallout, Infamous, and Fable have all advertised their moral choice system as a selling point. At their worst, moral choice systems remain just that: a selling point adhering to a fad.
At its best, the feature meshes with gameplay and challenges the player’s impulses. The best and most interesting problems never have one right way to solve them.
Since the launch of the Compact Disc in 1982, jewel cases and all cases thereafter always had one constant variable: the inserts, including the cover and/or instruction manual would be situated on the left and the disc would sit comfortably on the right.
We’re all used to opening our cases like this. It’s like second nature to us at this point. But then Microsoft decides to throw us for a loop with the Xbox One and revels against this long-standing status-quo.
Open up an Xbox One game case and you will instantly feel alienated. The scene you’re used to seeing has been totally flipped around. The disc now lays on the left side while any instruction manuals, codes or other papers are on the right.
What the hell, Microsoft?
I don’t remember the launch of the Super Nintendo.
I was too young to recall what I’m sure was a very momentous and exciting time for my older brother. Technically my half brother, he lived between my house and his biological mother’s. On the days that he was around, I would attentively watch him try and beat Super Mario World, a launch title still hailed as one of the best videogames of all time. After no doubt bugging the patience out of him, he eventually relented and handed me the controller.
This is the exact moment when I became a gamer. A rattly SNES controller with a “space shuttle” skin from a Nintendo Power is my version of Proust’s madeline cookies.
When asked what you’ve been playing lately, you’re likely to reply with a myriad of titles such as Madden, Assassin’s Creed, Skyrim or a whole host of others.
Oftentimes, I’m just as likely to respond in kind; however, there’s a good chance I’ll also offer up Tecmo Bowl, Double Dragon II or Super Mario RPG.
I’m a gamer. Period. I own games and consoles across the spectrum and collect them indiscriminately. When I talk about these old school titles, whether I’m recounting recent play throughs or mention a gem I’ve found at a flea market or garage sale, many of my friends or co-workers respond with indifference or forced enthusiasm. Where’s the respect?
Not for me, of course, but for the classics.
(Editor’s note: In lieu of this week’s Pixelitis Picks, we’ve given editors Patrick Kulikowski and Karen Rivera the chance to give their unfiltered view on what rocked and what was lacking at each of the E3 2012 press conferences.)
So another E3 has come and gone, bringing with it a slew of new announcements, some surprises, and of course – a zillion games that we can’t wait to sink our teeth into.
After letting last week’s E3 news craziness die down, we figured that a look back at some of the press conferences and the new games that were announced was in order. Despite our lack of physical presence at the industry-heavy conference, we still kept a careful eye (in some cases more than one) on the news, previews and general goings-on.
There were a few things we griped about, a few things we were blown away by and of course, things we just wished didn’t happen.
(Editor’s note: In this feature series, our staff gets the chance to let off some steam -Bennett- and talk about some of the more infuriating aspects of the games and systems we love. After all, not everything can be rainbows and sunshine.)
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been fascinated with the idea of the rogue, the rebel, the vagabond, and the all-around jack-of-all-trades thief. I grew up idolizing Robin Hood, Autolycus from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, (who was played by Bruce Campbell, so no shortage of awesome there), and even though they were always a pretty weak class, I always chose to have a thief in my party in any iteration of the Final Fantasy series.
Thieves were always emblematic of skill and dexterity, with just the right amount of wit and charm to see themselves through any tough situation. A thief made up for a lack of brawn with a surplus of cunning. Thieves are usually the lucky type, but their character doesn’t hinge on that single attribute alone. That’s what the Gambler class is for.
So why on earth, with a skill set so dedicated to dexterity and ability, do all my attempts at thievery in videogames boil down to a game of chance?
(Editor’s note: This article by Matt Brown is a self-reflective piece that we at Pixelitis feel many gamers go through. If you have a similar experience, let us know in the comments. Thanks.)
Many of us have experienced the 20-something boogey man: the existential life crisis. The identity crisis and growing pains of experiencing the “real world” for the first time. My own search for “self” has been a long twisting road of uncertainty and anxiety.
Do I like my eggs fried or scrambled? Do I sleep on my left or my right? Is the glass half full or spilled all over my favorite shirt? But most importantly (of course), I find myself wondering… am I a gamer?
One of my roommates recently started playing Dragon Age II. I’ve never really seen him play videogames before and since he was starting a pretty involved one, I asked him about it. I was wondering what made him pick the game up in the first place.
He said it was basically because no one else was around. He enjoys games quite a bit actually (Joust on Xbox Live is a favorite). He doesn’t play video games often because he isn’t very good at them.
I was honestly surprised by his answer. I mean, we all have things we’re bad at. I’m absolutely awful at both quilting and basket weaving, for example. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that being an unskilled gamer isn’t like being an unskilled basket weaver. You can’t hang a low gamer score on your fridge. There’s really no one to say, “Well, it’s the thought that counts.”
Being bad a video games often means, “Jeeeez. I can’t believe you got n00b tubed AGAIN,” or “Behindyoubehindyoubehindyou… BEHIND. YOU. DUDE. He was behind you.”
Or if you’re not into shooters it means, “Jump down. Get the chest. The other chest. Right there. Next to the thing. Other WAY. Here….give me the controller.”
Honestly, I sympathize with the guy. I’ve been playing games since I was but a wee tot. I beat Tetris on my dad’s Gameboy more times than I can count, rocked a Sega Genesis for a time and I’ve had more than a few consoles since. But I’m not the greatest at games. I’m okay. And that’s kind of what makes me wonder sometimes.
Am I a gamer?