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 atariage.com)