Box Art VI: The Deadline Annihilator™
Here I am once again, sliding headfirst into home to meet monthly deadlines, with a big goofy smile on my face and five more game boxes that raise more questions than they answer. There are just so fun to do that it's hard not to
Here I am once again, sliding headfirst into home to meet monthly deadlines, with a big goofy smile on my face and five more game boxes that raise more questions than they answer. There are just so fun to do that it’s hard not to write them back to back, but after this one I pinkie-swear I’ll deliver something else. It’s gotten to the point where all I have to do is leave Twitter open and casually browse Tumblr, and it reminds me very much of lazily floating a line in a well-stocked fish pond. Nonetheless, I’ve kept it down to five, as usual. Bon apetit, my fellow gourmands of the absurd.
Nodes of Yesod
Odin Computer Graphics, Ltd, 1985
Let me start off by saying two things. First, “Odin” is a good name for anything. I shouldn’t have to explain why. Beats me why anyone would be too lame to get it. Second, this game was published for a computer called the Enterprise 128, and I know nary a damn thing about it. In fact, this game box is the first evidence I’ve seen that the system ever existed.
I’m guessing the massive, otherworldly floating bronze table is a Node, because I don’t know what the hell else it’d be, just floating around on some dusty-ass moon. You can tell that the novelty of nodes, and even the wonder of outer space, long ago ran sour for our astronaut here. His space suit looks like it was cobbled together using terrycloth towels and those soft lunchboxes that are supposed to keep food hot but instead just make it easier to ruin between point A and B. In his fat, vinyl-thick hand, he holds the pinnacle of space age innovation: a Super 8 camera.
Back in 1985, they had to clarify on the box whether or not it was a “graphics adventure.” It even has stereo sound. Nodes of Yesod wasn’t just any Normal Joe computer program. This was some high-fallootin’ boutique-level entertainment.
Okay, I have heard of the ZX81.
That’s about all. I’ve seen it mentioned in the occasional article or other source. I never bothered to learn more. To be fair, 90% of my personal time consists of playing D&D on Roll20, watching low-budget horror and sci fi films, and sleeping.
Whether or not you’ve heard of the ZX81, Krazy Kong has heard of you. In his dreams. The ones where he’s eating you. What unnerves me even more than his bright red face and his ability to astral project just his head? The fact that he’s out to get you… and looks fucking JAZZED about it. Dude packed a cooler and everything. He lives for this shit. One must wonder what attachment, sentimental or contractual, a leering red ape might have to the might and ancient Pyramid, but Krazy Kong does not look like the kind of cat I’d be asking a ton of questions. You’re probably lucky if you can get a head start.
Wait. Wait. It also bothers me – as well as standing in affront to nature and science – that Krazy Kong has a very human nose and four daggerlike Dracula fangs. Planning an exciting getaway to Egypt this year? I say skip it.
Megami Tensei Gaiden – Last Bible
Multimedia Intelligence Transfer, 1999
I am aware that this is a way more recent game than we usually talk about here, but I don’t give a shit because Megami Tensei is a long-running and pitifully undersung series. Oh yeah, and let me give a shout: Zayd, Ben, Zach, Colin, Nick, and Jonah… this is for you. I love you guys even though you’re hopeless anime nerds.
Much like the Final Fantasy series eternally promises in its titles that this is definitely the final one (but it isn’t because you FF fans love this shit and would probably buy a toaster if we branded it with Cloud’s smirking face), this game makes reference to something called the “Last Bible.” I am not a theologist, nor was I ever much for the academic end of religion, but I’m reasonably sure there’s just one Bible. I mean, there’s the Book of Mormon, the Catholic Apocrypha, and a handful of other peripheral tomes… but I don’t think they published a “Bible 2.” I’m willing to bet that most of the Apostles had enough excitement seeing the first one through.
Apparently in the Last Bible, Christ is notably absent. He has been rotated out in favor of three kids who have some really fucking weird homies. It may just be a splash representation of both the characters and the monsters, but this stone cold convinces me that these folks, human or not, represent one crew. Here’s my imagination’s breakdown of the posse, member by member:
- Sassy Face Pink Lion Man is usually the one who gets the gang all riled up to do crazy shit. SFPLM does not use an inside voice ever, and probably doesn’t care to know what that means. That said, he’s a genuinely friendly dude, cares about his friends, and is always willing to walrus-bite a fool if they wanna step. SFPLM’s only gripe is that when they do Tuesday lunch at Red Robin, it’s a real pain in the ass to chew a burger with only four huge canine teeth.
- The human girl in the blue and red getup with the rather ostentatious pimp-sceptre is only around about half the time; her mom likes that she’s getting out of the house and making friends, but there’s just something about Ponderous Leering Gorgon Pharoah that bothers her. I mean, live and let live, but Mom calls ’em like she sees ’em.
- Frontmost obligatory sword guy isn’t even ostensibly in charge. He just always gets all pee-jump excited about SFPLM’s yelling bullshit that he goes all spazmo and tries to out-lion the lion. Everyone’s cool to him ,though, because he is actually OK with the sword and he usually has 4 or 5 bags of Gushers in his bookbag and doesn’t mind sharing them.
- Pinstrip Turban Asshole barely has a vested interest in anything. He usually just fills space, smirking all smugly and diligently avoiding mud so he doesn’t ruin his Circus Sultan clothes. He actually knows no goddamned magic at all, but Sword Kid has a brutal crush on his older sister so it’s this kind of lukewarm half friendship. Sword Kid would never tell anyone, but once he saw Turban Kid in a private moment, standing n front of a full-length mirror and lip-synching to “Barbie Girl.”
- I am unsure if the orange stone and serpent-horse body part grab bag are one thing or two. The flamboyant but incredibly street-smart snake-horse met the lion guy when they were in college, and despite the two of them having jack shit in common except this thing they’re doing, they’ve stayed friends.
- Gucci Skeleton Prince is not a regular member of the crew. He’s actually not an undead wizard or king or anything, but his mumble rap career is just now picking up wind, and he’s got his priorities straight. HE still pops by to run with the old crew once in a while, not only because he’s superhumanly chill, but because he knows it’s good to remember your roots.
- The tentacle bug man in the aggressively-yellow 4x sweatsuit is actually the most powerful member of the team, but everyone just rags on him for his weird fashion sense and the fact that he smells like Vics Vapo Rub all the time. He doesn’t share a lot about himself, and Turban Kid thinks he might be suicidally depressed, but doesn’t really care because Turban Kid is an asshole. Also, Bug Guy always insists on bringing the huge red lizard even though it panics the second things get tense and refuses to bear a rider. He feeds it pills. No one asks.
- Aw man, fucking Ponderous Leering Gorgon Pharoah. This dude is barely capable of coherent speech, is usually Xanned out, and has to be reminded every five to ten minutes what’s going on. Sassy Lion is looking for a good way to tell Gorgon Pharoah that he’s a gigantic liability, but it’s incredibly hard to talk to this guy while he’s just rolling his eyes back in his head and bass-groaning in monotone for a half-hour straight.
“Look, we needed a guaranteed-minimum walk-in sale, and if you put ninjas in anything, it’s pretty much gonna get bought by some people.”
I immediately recall the scene in the film Ninja III: the Domination where several well-trained shinobi killers throw down and let some blood soak the fairways. This box art is kind of a letdown, though. I can forgive it being a tad plain – I mean, you design a package, get the job done, and go home – but what really bothers me? That isn’t even a Japanese sword, yo. That’s a Chinese K.F. Broadsword.
You should also be more careful stowing your nunchaku. Night play can be a harrowing uphill battle, and losing a good pair of chucks could ruin your round. Not to mention the dubious function and comfort of tabi boots with cleats on the bottom.
Soft Vision, 1993
This is fucking stomach-churning. That is a deliberate and carefully-rendered Butthole Worm. A colossal butthole worm, flailing its guts-body around as it gets rocked by laser fire and letting… whatever that is ooze out of its suggestive aperture. Even the screaming piano-toothed alien seems a little shocked. Maybe a little embarrassed. “It’s… not mine. I don’t know… it just… I found it in here.”
The towering articulated cactus-arcology seems tame in comparison. I fail to see how that loveable oaf could hurt a fly. He’s perfectly content swaying in the thermals, passively ingesting space-plankton, and thinking about what having limbs would be like.
He was pretty comfy until Anus-Wyrm busted on the scene with his gaping orifice and his Astroglide drool problem. There goes the magma-ocean.
In February, I make this Good Boy Promise to you, my readers: I will write three articles, and exactly zero of them will be box art. Stay Retro, and as the Great One once said, “be like water, my friends.”