Now, an article that is little more than an excuse for me to look at Halloween-themed pictures. Okay, that's not strictly true, I'm also doing it because I enjoy sharing things with you, dear reader. It works out great, because if it's something good or fun then I get the satisfaction of having exposed it to a wider audience, and if it's terrible then hey, I've shared my pain with the world, my burdens lessened by knowing others may suffer as I have. It's a win-win situation. Don't worry, though, today's things are actually kinda great, assuming you're like me and you enjoy goofy Halloween stuff - it's a bunch of advertisements for home computer games!
The Addams Family, Ocean
(click for bigger images)Let's begin with the first family of the macabre - until Freddy and Jason put their differences aside and get wed, at least - The Addams Family. Everyone loves the Addamses, right? It's hard to not be swept up by their joie de vivre. After all, as MC Hammer's immortal classic "Addams Groove" informs us, they do what they wanna do, say what they wanna say and live how they wanna live. Don't we all wish we could be that free, that comfortable in our own skin? Of course, I'm not sure doing what they wanted to do necessarily included "appearing in an utterly generic platformer," but here we are.
The game's based on the 1991 movie, so the advert's basically just a reproduction of the movie poster, but the blurb at the bottom has some interesting diversions. For one, they managed to misspell "Kookiest" as "Cookiest" despite "kooky" being used at the top of the article. Or maybe the Addamses have the most biscuit-like friends around, who knows? Also, one of the taglines just says "They dance a wacky dance!" I'm sold, I'll take ten copies. That's the power of advertising right there.
Demon Knight, ASP Software
Terry really gets into his role as the Dungeon Master. No, of course not, it's a malevolent entity with the power to manifest tiny skulls but not the power to de-clutter his desk. And so, the mighty demon sits alone at his messy workstation, on his extremely uncomfortable-looking chair, wondering why he's alone on a Saturday night and not out on the town besmirching chaste young maidens or, I dunno, pushing nuns down wells. I might be projecting a little bit, there. I think maybe I empathise with the demon because our skins are a very similar pallid shade. If it was a paint colour it'd be called "Alabaster Ghoul."
However, my favourite thing about this ad is the phrase "ASP Software subjects you to Demon Knight" You don't play it, you don't enjoy it, you're subjected to it, like a lecture from your parents or the films of Michael Bay. I know it's supposed to make the game sound challenging, but as someone who has spent time waiting for Commodore tapes to load I suspect it's more accurate than the designer intended.
"The Nightmare Has Begun!" Yeah, the nightmare of retina-bruising graphic design. This isn't an advertisement, it's full-on optical GBH. The layout of the text means gaining any insight into the game is like trying to divine the future from a can of Alphabetti Spaghetti. Even Boone looks like just being part of this monstrosity as a photograph is causing him excruciating pain.
Werewolves of London, Viz Design
Admit it, as soon as you saw that title the piano riff popped into your head, even if the werewolf doesn't have a Chinese menu in his hand. Unless you've never heard Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London," I suppose, but honestly how likely is that? Go on, check it out, here's a link. Now if you ever do hear that song again you'll immediately think of a werewolf rampaging through the streets of London, a werewolf so powerful that he's causing Westminster Palace to warp around him. Perhaps the distortion is caused by his animal magnetism, VGJunk says as he pre-emptively hurls rotten tomatoes at his own face.
This is a pretty neat-looking werewolf, in my opinion, with a traditional lycanthrope style. Werewolf Classic, if you will. He doesn't look especially perturbed by his transformation, although as his shirt is tattered but his trousers are not we can assume the shape-shifting starts at the head and works its way downwards. Wait until the transmogrification reaches his groin, then he'll have something to howl about.
Erik: Phantom of the Opera, Crysys
"The Phaaaantom of the Opera is heeere, to split some logs!" I thought the whole point of the Phantom was that he never leaves the Paris Opera, but here he is, walking the streets in a very non-phantasmic fashion. Hopefully he's on his way to get a haircut. Christine will never fall for you while you're sporting that barnet, Erik! Also maybe stop forcing her into your underground lair, that's not cool. Having a messed-up face doesn't give you free license to act like a super-creep. Oh, stop pouting, you big weirdo, you look like chubby-era Val Kilmer.
Credit to the artist, though, that is a picture of the actual Paris Opera in the background when a lazier artist might have made do with any fancy-looking old building.
Vampire's Empire, Magic Bytes
And on the eight day, God created vampires and lo, he immediately thought "wait a minute, why did I create vampires?" but verily it was too late and the vampire was already climbing out of its casket. Except now I look again I think the vampire is getting back into the casket after a long night's feasting, because he's got blood around his mouth and he does look as though he's pulling the lid closed. The lid for his tiny, tiny coffin, which is clearly far too small for him. That's why the old bloke with the beard looks so shocked, he never expected a vampire to curl up inside his bread bin.
That's The Spirit, The Edge
One thing I do miss about this era of gaming is developers basing an entire game on the pun they thought up for the title. If only the trend continued today, we could be playing On Her Mother Base's Snake-ret Service instead of Metal Gear Solid V.
As for the image itself, it's kinda inscrutable until you assume that the mist isn't a ghost but rather the overwhelming odour of those Nikes - shoes that someone may well have died in, thus enhancing their terrible smell. If there is a ghost involved, they have returned to this mortal realm to complete their unfinished business of finding a less ugly hat. Something more appropriate for a ghost, anyway, like a boowler hat or a chillby.
Dante's Inferno (unreleased), Beyond Software
A genuinely upsetting-to-look-at Satan now, with a horrible gaping maw perfectly shaped for cramming sinners into, and strange head-pouches that make me wonder whether this particular Satan isn't at least part frog. Those pouches are easily the most unpleasant thing about this image - they're so veiny, and they look as though they'd be feverishly hot to the touch. Ugh, now I can't stop thinking about what they'd feel like if you poked them. Probably like massive watery blisters? Oh god, brain, please stop it.
I know I've said this before, but videogame adaptations of classic works of art and literature always make me wish for the invention of time travel. Imagine going back and showing Dante and Gaston Leroux how Inferno and The Phantom of the Opera had been, erm, reimagined. I suppose Gaston would mostly be confused about why the Phantom has an axe.
The Inferno, Richard Shepherd Software
Way over on the other end of the Satanic Sinisterness Scale is this chubby lil' Lucifer, who welcomes you to Hell with a nonchalant pose and a smirk that suggest he is the imp of the really perverse. He looks like he's thinking about something deeply unpleasant, and not just the usual "eternal torment" stuff. Something involving root vegetables and lots of plastic sheeting.
As different as this is from the other Inferno game, it is still based on Dante's poem, if the mention of Virgil in the blurb is anything to go by. Forget the other one, I want to show Dante this interpretation of his work. He doesn't have three mouths for gnawing at the bodies of traitors and he's not frozen up to his waist in ice, but he does have a big letter D drawn on his sweatshirt so you don't forget that he's the devil. I think Dante would be cool with these changes.
Frightmare, Cascade Games
With the sleep-related title of Frightmare, it's appropriate that this spectral head appears to be doing a big yawn. Had a busy day of spooking, have you? Rattling chains and lowering the local temperature a couple of degrees can really take it out of a spectre. I contemplated not saying "he's dead tired" but I already made those ghost hat puns and a soul cannot be damned twice.
Zombie Zombie, Quicksilva
Do you think the artist of this piece was trying to draw a faintly seductive zombie, or did it just spring unbidden from their pen? If it's the latter, imagine what a curse that would be. Trying to draw a cat? Oh no, I've accidentally drawn a zombie giving a flirtatious wink over its decomposing shoulder! I tried to add a tree to the picture, but now it's a rotting corpse holding a fan coquettishly over its face! Then I tried to write a shopping list and the artwork that poured forth from my pen was so grotesque it's technically illegal!
Friday the 13th, Domark
This advert is mostly just the poster for the staggeringly misnamed Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, but there's something about it being in Spanish that gives it an extra little bit of flair that I really like. "Not suitable for the faint-hearted!" the tagline on the left screams! Okay, not "screams," it's too tiny for that, but that's okay. When your main image is a bloody hockey mask with a knife jammed into the eye-hole you don't need much text.
Scary Monsters, Firebird
"AAAAHHH!" screams the vampire, furtively glancing at his monstrous associates, "AAAAAHHH am I doing this right, guys? AHHHHH because I feel a bit silly AAAAHHHHH!"
There's a lot of interesting facial expression in this one, isn't there? The Dracula looking a little unsure of himself, the werewolf pulling the face of a (wolf)man slipping into a relaxing bubble bath, the mummy being too shy to get into the shot properly and the Frankenstein, who looks like a dad listening to his daughter explain that her new boyfriend is called Razor and he rides a motorcycle. A dad without eyes, sure, but there still some paternal sternness to that face.
Bride of Frankenstein, Viz Design
More Frankenstein now, and they're going through a rough time relationship-wise. He's trying to propose marriage, but she wants to dismember him with an axe, possibly because he keeps using her lipstick without asking. I know they're supposed to be sparkles of light, but those white lines don't half make it look like Frank is pulling that wedding ring out of his ear. Maybe that's why his bride is miffed, Frank can't do anything without working his lame sleight-of-hand magic routines into it.
I'm telling you this for your own good, young lady - you need to switch your hair-dryer to a less powerful setting.
Lone Wolf and the Ice Halls of Terror, Hutchinson Computer Publishing
Wow, it was a pretty bold move to make the hero of your game a colossal, tentacled nightmare-beast, although it's hardly surprising that it's a Lone Wolf if it looks like that. Yes, yes, I know that isn't the hero of the game, but I can dream, can't I? Don't tell me you wouldn't want to play as this thing, prowling your ice cave and eating any adventurers foolish enough to enter? Although now I've written it out I'm sure that on the Spectrum, such a game would be nothing more than a Pac-Man clone and this magnificent slimeball deserves better than that. It comes from a famous lineage, after all, because I'm sure it's heavily based on the H. P. Lovecraft story At the Mountains of Madness, which is all about horrible slimy things being all indescribable and unknowable in the Antarctic. Alas, unlike in the story that inspired it there are no giant mutant penguins in this advert. He know about terror, did Lovecraft, and giant mutant penguins is it.
The Real Ghostbusters, Activision
This artwork strongly conflicts with the idea that bustin' makes you feel good. The only one here who looks like he's having a good time is Peter Venkman, and he's not even actively engaged in the busting. He's just haphazardly firing his proton gun behind him with shocking disregard for workplace safety legislation. I get that you're supposed to be the cynical, laid-back member of the team, Venkman, but if someone walks up behind you you're going to incinerate their face. Your lack of care and attention is making me want to side with the Walter Peck, and that's a horrible feeling. Also, Ray and Winston are dangerously close to crossing the streams. Did you not have a safety video during your induction or anything?
The Witch's Cauldron, Mikro-Gen
Finally for today, there's this thing. I... I'm not sure what to make of this one, so here is a list of some of its component parts. A frog-man drinks a potion that makes his dick explode. There's a witch, or possibly a tree that looks like a witch, and I assume she had something to do with the groin-bursting potion. The frog-man is wearing extravagant boots. There's a small Cockney man who has the presence of mind to make a "frog / hopping" pun even as he sprouts a lion's tail. The frog licks its lips as it looks at the potion, tempted to go in for another sip, and if the witch has brewed a potion so delicious you'll keep drinking it even after your genitals are spread over a thirty-foot radius then she should probably start bottling and selling it. It is beautiful, it's perfect, and I can think of no better way to end this article. Goodbye!