domingo, 19 de julho de 2015

The Game Over Controversy [1987, multiple 8 bit systems] - It's a Pixel THING - Ep.#58

Luis Royo is a Spanish artist, responsible for many astonishing fantasy illustrations published in so many media formats that range from art books and magazines all through music CD covers and video games.

So, in 1987 and in that last area, Dinamic Software hired Royo to create the artwork for their latest title that was about to be released: Game Over.

Adverts on magazines, not only in Spain but also in France and the United Kingdom, was all around and, in this last country, the drawing had a huge negative impact because of the offending portrayal of this awesomely gorgeous girl that was showing more than it would be probably allowed. The game was being published by Imagine Software and it caused a huge controversial wave of negative feedback that also helped selling the game!

Game Over is an amazing action run and gun platformer by Ignácio Ruiz, also know as “Snatcho”, where we play as Arkos, a mega Terminator once faithful to the beautiful and evil Princess Gremla, yes, that one! Our mission is to kill her and put an end to her cruel and oppressive leadership. To do that, we need to fight our way through this linear prison planet called Hypsis engaging these hordes of enemies and reach the end where a ship will transport us to the next planet.

Once arrived into this new world, the planet Sckunn, the challenge is bigger and not as linear as the first one. Gladly, instead of grenades, we managed to get a giant laser which destroys all that crosses our path. Unfortunately this laser is limited. We can only use it twenty five times.

Planet Sckunn is divided into two stages: the Forest and the Palace. We must be very careful not to drown in the first one, so we must avoid the lakes at all costs. Once arrived in the Palace, there are elevators that takes us, you guessed it, to different floors. Be aware of mines that are scattered around the palace and will obviously explode when touched!

But, before we slain the evil Princess, let’s take a deeper look into her controversial portrait. That original artwork appeared, 3 years earlier, on a cover of Heavy Metal, an American science fiction and fantasy comics magazine that is around since April of 1977. Because of its “adult illustrated fantasy” content, there was never any type of fuss around its covers’ possible visual disturbance. But, when that same drawing ended up on an inlay of a ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, MSX and Commodore 64 video game, intended for kids, and with Imagine’s quality seal, the negative impact was huge! Nonetheless, it also helped to sell lots of copies!

Something had to be done quickly to reduce that negative impact that Game Over’s cover made in the United Kingdom, even after a huge poster had been offered to the readers of issue 21 of Your Sinclair magazine. That meant that almost every bedroom in UK had a Game Over poster with Princess Gremla in all her glory!

Retailers demanded that cassette and disk inlays started being printed with Dinamic’s logo on top of the offending nipple and, as well in some covers with a screenshot of the game itself. At the same time, art editor of Crash Magazine, Oli Frey, was working over the original Luis Royo artwork placing a kind of steel plate putting an end to the controversy.. kind of.

Game Over ended up winning the award for best advert and best video game cover of the year by readers of Crash Magazine.

The game was also available for DOS, but only in Spain. This port was developed by Pedro Sudón and has graphics taken directly from the ZX Spectrum version.

I’ll soon be covering with more detail this topic about video game cover art from mid-eighties to early nineties that was, for me, the most incredible and competitive Era with so many great artists leaving their mark in the video game industry.

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