You know Sold Out Software? The budget range of PC games in your local game shop (if you still have one)? Well, they’re owned by a company called Mastertronic.
Mastertronic were the leaders in peddling budget games for the 8-bit computers in the UK during the 1980′s. Bedroom coders would send in their games to be published and sold for around £1.99 a pop.
Well, someone had to come up with box art for these games, didn’t they? Well whoever it was, they obviously weren’t being paid very much. Let’s have a look at some.
A classic example of the “super dude plus chick” design commonly found on budget games and awful fantasy novels. The game itself is a low-res, Gauntlet-like adventure. Nothing special, except the bad guy is called “Una Cum”.
The hero seems to have Mystic Meg’s hairstyle too, which doesn’t do much for his burly appearance.
I’ve no idea what this game is about, as I’ve never played it and have no desire to. I can only imagine that Dr. Space Frankenstein has created a giant Space Monster that you have to escape from by navigating your spaceship through a swarm of beef jerky.
Also, I’m not sure how you’re supposed to pronounce the title. It sounds Welsh.
3) Galactic Patrol
I’m sure this is supposed to be a scary alien, but the poor fucker just looks tired and bored. He just needs a nice cup of Space Cocoa and a nap. The Starship Tupperware in the background appears to be wildly out of control and heading towards the mountains too.
Also, I’m not entirely sure, but it looks like there may be a firey explosion coming out of his arse.
4) Octagon Squad
Judging by the logo, I can only presume this was called Octagon Squad because the coders couldn’t figure out how to do curves on the MSX. I like to think that this game is about a group of plucky robots that gather together to fight the evil Doctor Cloud-Legs who’s threatening to destroy them all.
I wish them luck.
5) New York Blitz
Thank Christ it wasn’t in the 911 range.
6) C16 Compilation
This tape has everything! Spaceships! Pac Man! Skiing! Laser powered toasters! How can the humble Plus 4 cope with such a radical array of awesomeness? In reality it’s probably 4 different versions of Pong with differently pitched “squick squack” sound effects.
I’m kind of hoping that “DISASTERBLASTER” is a game about explosive diarrhoea.
Still, fair play to the artist who was asked to combine those things into a vaguely coherent image.
7) Gun Law
I’m not sure whether our hero here is going to lob that grenade at (presumably) a lizard man, or whether he’s just realised he’s about to be in a Mastertronic budget title and has decided to take his own life.
He kind of looks like he’s trying not to cry. It’s OK, mate. Just a few seconds and it’ll all be over.
8) Space Hunter
The background may be utterly generic, but there’s nothing dull about this jaunty chap standing there with his helmet in his hand. With his beard, mullet, eyepatch, and cattle prod, he’s perfectly equipped for a 1980′s space adventure. He clearly means serious business. I’d think twice about letting mind my kids though.
I wonder how the Space Hunting went for him? I’m sure as hell not going to bother finding out.
9) Pulse Warrior
A common problem that low-rent fantasy and science fiction box artists seem to always suffer from is an inability to know when something looks fucking stupid. Forget “1984″. The dystopian future I’m terrified of is one where we all have to wear purple and green body armour while absorbing electricity from a jellyfish.
I’m sure of one thing though. His armour was designed by the same people who design those cheap, plastic hard drive enclosures you can order from China.
Finishing as we started, another case of ”super dude plus chick”. I know this is supposed to be a dank dungeon or cave of some kind, but I can’t help but get a kind of S&M nightclub vibe from it.
The lady at the back is tied up under what may be a disco light. And that bikini looks far too modern for a fantasy game.
If it wasn’t for the sword, I’d swear that this game was a bondage nightclub management simulator. Fuck, it might be for all I know. I might actually dig this one out.