Thursday, November 27, 2014

"Incubation: Time Is Running Out", Windows, 1997.

Here we are again -- another full-spread magazine game ad I spliced together from two different pages, resulting in a file so big I had to upload it here for safekeeping. Secretly or not so secretly what I'd rather be blogging about at this point in time are ANSI art renditions of video game characters or the report from my last retro gaming party (summary: NES games finally playable -- Marble Madness and Bubble Bobble big hits -- courtesy of a Retron 3, plus Wii and Xbox 360 now on tap -- if not especially retro) but because those subjects cannot float the blog on its own, I stubbornly keep cranking out occasional magazine scans for an audience of who knows. Today's game: Incubation, by Blue Byte.

First 10,000 Copies
3 Extra Missions
& A Free Incubation
Watch Offer!

Lead a squad of up to 10 Space Marines in over 30 terrifying turn-based missions!
Slaughter the bloodthirsty Scay'Ger with just a point and click using the intuitive interface!
View the stunning real-time 3D graphics from almost any angle with a free-roaming camera!

"Think X-Com meets Quake and you might see the picture, and subsequently start salivating."
- GamePen

"Incubation looks to be one of the best tactical combat games of the year."
- PC Games

"... Blue Byte has created what has to be one of the best-looking strategy games ever."
- Computer Games Strategy Plus

PC Zone 94%
Score Magazine 10/10
PC Games (Germany) 92%
PC Action 92% - Gold Award
PC Power 91% - Platinum Award

Featuring the Revolutionary Extreme Assault graphics engine!

Also from Blue Byte...




Command a 21st century attack helicopter and battle tank with simple arcade style controls!
Fight over 50 intense missions in 6 enormous levels complete with secret caves and tunnels!

That's quite a logo, though it makes the ad illustration a bit painfully redundant -- though gamers always want to know what in-game graphics look like, so perhaps the logo is the redundant part. An attention-grabbing portrait -- looks like a half-alligator half-man, turned inside-out. I guess the 3 extra missions to the early buyers is a kind of early "deluxe edition DLC included" bonus ahead of its time? Does the free Incubation watch tell you how long it will take until you are finished incubating? Or is it just a watchstrap with a face reading "Time Is Running Out"?

Marketing divisions know darned well what the actual numerical limitations of the game are, so "up to 10" or "over 30" is just their cute way of saying "10" and "31". Who are these Scay'Ger and why are they so bloodthirsty? I don't mean to cast aspersions on you, but when the first thing you describe doing to them is "slaughter", it makes me wonder who is the real monster. I liked "point and click using the intuitive interface" right up until the review crowed "think X-Com meets Quake". I don't know what that gameplay would be like (because I haven't played this title), but it's hard to imagine anything about its point and click interface being intuitive.

Make up your minds, reviewers, is it tactics or strategy? I like how the scores are stacked -- like a 94% from PC Zone is harder to achieve than 100% from Score: we didn't only impress the easy-to-impress! I think it's pretty awesome that they named their graphics engine "Revolutionary Extreme Assault" -- you don't end up making backgammon simulators from a product like that! "id Tech" is less impressive on that basis.

Also, they couldn't quite figure out what to do with the second page in the spread, so decided to use part of it reminding you that they also have other, unrelated games for sale.

There, that wasn't so bad. I feel a bit dishonest blogging about games like this I haven't played or even researched, but considering that most of my competition in this field just posts the scans straight without any commentary, I'm still ahead of the pack as long as I produce transcripts and pull some ad blurb interpretation out of ... thin air.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Video game ANSI part 9: errata

OK, I got one game print ad post out of the way. Y'know what that means? It's time for another session of video game ANSI art appreciation! All right, let's get started:
I hate to mangle that Reset Survivor piece from a Blocktronics pack, but as slight as the eventual video game sprite reference was, I just couldn't pass up its splendidly demented start screen (which the author explains was a take on the Doom II configuration screen.) Now to shake things up, another song! I know that the video game soundtrack remix community is a massive thing which I have just barely scraped the edge of, and I probably won't get into it too extensively here just because blog posts are generally a terrible way to present audio. But this one is special -- another historic exclusive: it was made for Mistigris, my computer art group of the '90s (and just revived for an indefinite time as of this Hallowe'en!), in some vague plan for a game-themed artpack release that never happened. The pack-in-progress had an epic 10-minute-long video game theme megamix that was the subject of tragical data loss, but we still did have Onyx's Castlevania theme from the previous ANSI post and this -- for the first time ever, you can enjoy |<ing /|rthur revisiting the main theme from M.U.L.E. (Unless, as he has recently retroactively been caught doing from time to time, this was him stealing somebody else's sequencing and putting his name on it. But it sounds equally enjoyable and relevant either way!)

We have ... basically, a pile of further posts in this series to get out of the way. The more I delve into the what I thought would be minute pool of video-game themed ANSI artwork, the more I find -- for every post I make, further material is made available to me for two more posts. As the material on my workbench has expanded, I've had the luxury of hashing the pieces out into different themed categories, so you can enjoy comparing and contrasting different approaches to the same subject rather than the jarring and schizoid channel-flipping approach you've seen in previous posts. So this post is a pile of pieces made on rare or singular themes, whereas in the future we will be seeing more sprees on related topics.

Pokémon was a huge video game franchise -- at times singlehandedly floating parent company Nintendo through hard times -- though one under-represented in ANSI art, only emerging as it did in 1996, as this whole culture was in the process of winding down. Here are a few takes on the series' flagship mon(ster), Pikachu the electric squirrel:

Those first two are by Konami, an artist we've already seen in these pages and who will be playing a substantial role in this blog series very soon! And -- not that we'll ever be able to present a complete textmode Poképedia, but here's one more member of the evolving menagerie of hundreds and hundreds of fabulous creatures:
Changing streams, that was a nice Castle Crashers tribute from Blocktronics, and now here's a 67 (blocktronics initials, numeralized) take on another game by The Behemoth, "Alien Hominid".
A couple of stragglers from the Sam & Max love-in we recently shared: a .BIN (typically this just means an extra-wide ANSI), possibly ripped (produced through inauthentic means -- typically miscredited from another artist, or here supposedly machine-converted) -- but we can't argue with the results:
And I don't remember this incident from the Sam & Max game or the comics that inspired it -- could it have originated in their cartoon, perhaps?
Now for a brief change of pace - some "hirez", or high-resolution computer artwork. I found this piece from "Dominion", a logo stumping for Quake II, in my 16-year-old "unreleased computer art" directory and figured -- well, it was relevant to this blog, but some context would need to be provided in order to explain why it was remotely noteworthy at all. In the early days of computer art, people were creative but the tools were lousy -- many works of high-resolution artwork were basically made the same way ANSI is (but with square pixel ratios as in the 80x50 screen mode), with pixel art being plunked down one pixel at a time. (Then once the piece was done came the process of manual anti-aliasing!) When Photoshop came on the scene it was a game-changer, where suddenly your machine could do the heavy lifting and "try out" different variations on themes -- different fonts run through different filters -- as a kind of rapid prototyping. Except previously, where works might be prototyped in notebook sketch pads (as with graffiti artists), here the prototype would also be the finished product... a monkey could churn out dozens of such logos hourly, and the law of averages would ensure that at least a few of them would be worth looking at.

To those not privy to the brave new world -- not running the powerful programs or owning the formidable hardware needed to run them -- it could be difficult to differentiate between work produced through painstaking laborious effort and work produced by a couple of clicks. Then folks who had a hat trick of the skills, the infrastructure, AND sophisticated design sensibilities schooled us in separating the wheat from the chaff, and this sort of thing started to disappear from artpack collections:

We saw him once before -- it looks like here's another ANSI of British bionic secret agent Robocod, aka James Pond:
A surprisingly under-represented game canon here in ANSI-land is the Legend of Zelda. This work starts to address that, with a Link to the Past-era Master Sword by Scarecrow of VOR:
(I didn't notice at the time, but was elite warez group Razor 1911's logo always the Triforce from the Zelda games?)
Once more we have an Air Zonk to share with you, Hudson's futuristic take on caveman Bonk:
And here's something new, also from the ranks of Hudson heroes, a Bomberman:
Here are edited highlights of a much larger (1000-line) work, curated to fit the particular interests of this blog and its readers:
And some Pac-Man for kicks... first a logo:
Then a cartoonish Ms. Pac-Man in watOr's unique style from one of his Echo artpacks:
And before we go, here's one for a BBS named Pool of Darkness -- it's probably not artwork from the SSI AD&D game of the same name, but rather artwork themed after the name of the game, promoting a BBS named after the game. You can't have the art or the BBS (or its name!) without the game, through the game's clammy touch can't necessarily be felt or discerned in the actual content of the art. We saw this kind of thing going on before with Jed's ANSIs for the BBS "Final Fantasy", but I let them in ... because I'm a softie.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

"Super Hydlide" / "Air Driver", Genesis, 1990.

How about this: a video game ad from a comic book? I know, didn't think I did those anymore, did you? Truth be known, I wanted to do another video game ANSI post -- looks like I've got 5 or 6 more of them at least! -- but I didn't want this blog to get too consistently off-theme. So off-topic only on alternating posts. Yard sale season is wound down in favour of flood season, so there aren't too many more "here's what I bought" posts in store until summer kicks off again. I do need to make a post about my next retro video game party -- Nov 15th, coming up! -- and about the bonafide '90s-throwback artpack I just released... but this is not going to be either of those.

This ad scan is distinguished by two qualities: a) it's a two-pager spread, and b) the scan skipped the queue because for whatever reason my splicing technique for the two pages resulted in a file of monstrous size, which I horrifiedly uploaded here to clear up the hard drive space. (Strange but true! But, sadly, boring.)


Enter the Realm of Myths and Legends.
A wise old oracle has predicted the second coming of evil. One young man has been chosen to save Fairyland from the source of the evil and eliminate it. What fate awaits our hero and Fairyland? Only you can answer this question.

In the cloud city, many important clues and items can be found, and purchased.
Deep within the Submerged Palace, you search for a space suit, an ancient computer, and other items, while fighting hoards of killer robots.
Outside the city in the woods, you begin your quest by fighting minor enemies to power your character up for the long quest ahead.


Top Secret Briefing:
The details of your mission are top secret. You must find and eliminate enemy terrorists and their evil leader, using your skills as a Top Gun pilot to penetrate enemy lines without detection. It is up to you to save the world from this dark force.

Execute barrel rolls while blasting vulcan guns at the enemy. [screenshot]
After defeating a level, dock inside the Super Transport and be repaired, refueled and restocked with weapons. [screenshot]
Take on the North Pacific region at night; enemies have no chance once they're in your sights! [screenshot]
Specifications on the F-119/Stealth fighter.

Two NEW Exciting Games for Genesis ACTION AND ADVENTURE!

"Wise old oracle". Redundant much? Is it possible there was any better translation than Fairyland? One must assume so. I don't care about whether the clues can be found -- but can they be purchased? Thank goodness! I for one am one game player who needs no search for an ancient computer. There's some obvious hordes/hoards muddling going on here, but if robots can be considered mobile objects -- like cars for instance -- could a group of them someone had stored up not be considered a hoard? Some people hoard gold coins, others hoard Impressionist paintings. Me, I hoard killer robots... I store them in the room in front of the closet where I keep my space suit and ancient computer, and other sundry items.

Screenshot number 3 describes the basic gameplay mechanic of CRPGs, not having noticed that AN ASSERTION OF THE WAY A GAME IS PLAYED IS NOT CONSIDERED A SELLING POINT IN AND OF ITSELF. All it establishes for sure is that the use of the term "ADVENTURE" at the bottom of the ad is, as usual, incorrect.

On to the Top Secret Briefing. Hey, did we mention that this briefing was top secret? Your mission is so unexpected and beyond the pale, its contents are highly classified. This time, instead of funding freedom fighters, your mission is to eliminate enemy terrorists. Strange how there's never any shortage of this kind of mission, isn't it? "Just what is a Vulcan gun," I pondered to myself, before Wikipedia answered the question definitively. Getting buffed at the end of a level also isn't a selling point, you guys. Won't it stop being fun playing against enemies who "have no chance"? Also, as a kind of DVD bonus feature for those who love starting their games up and not playing them, we have specifications for the F-119. So you can, I don't know, build a replica in your back yard.

Sorry, gang, my heart just wasn't in it, but rest assured the next time you see this page bubbling over with F4 blocks, I'll be gushy and effusive!