Truth In Advertising #1: Atari 2600 Launch Games

We love the box-art for the original Atari 2600 games.  The amazing game paintings inspired by the “idea” of the game (but not the action) went a long way to fill-in our imaginations when we played the games, because their primitive graphics could not do the job.

However, we were thinking today.  What if the original Atari boxes tried to create their box-art using state of the art graphics at the time (16-bit) or graphics an Atari 2600 (8-bit) might able to produce graphics instead of artist renditions?  What if Atari had been forced by law to show box-art only if the Atari 2600 could reproduce it because of some kind of 70’s “truth in advertising” law?  Would we have still been as inspired to play the games as much as we were?

We sat down over the weekend to try to simulate what those boxes might have looked like. We used a 16 year old paint program named PaintShop Pro 4.0 (our favorite).   For  the “16-bit” versions, we applied the “mosaic” filter using blocks of “4” pixels.   For the “8 bit” version we added a reduction to an 8 color palette”.  While we know these are not entirely accurate to the capabilities of the 8-bit 2600 or 16-bit mini-computers of the 70’s, we think the the results are a good apporximation to the computer graphics capabilities at the time.

Here are the images. What do you think? would the games have still been as compelling with accurate artwork? (note: Box images borrowed from


Combat Original

Combat 16 bit

Combat 8 bit

Surround Original

Surround 16 bit






Surround 8 bit

Starship Original

Starship 16-bit

Star Ship 8 bit

Street Racer Original

Street Racer 16 bit

Street Racer 8 bit

Video Olympics Original

Video Olympics 16 bit

Video Olympics 8 bit

Basic Math original

Basic Math 16 bit

Basic Math 8 bit

Air Sea Battle original

Air Sea Battle 16 bit

Air Sea Battle 8 bit



Black Jack original

Black Jack 16-bit

Black Jack 8 bit

Indy 500 original

Indy 500 16 bit

Indy 500 8 bit

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.
This site is protected by Comment SPAM Wiper.