[ Retro Scan of the Week ] The Lure of Game Graphics

October 21st, 2013 by Benj Edwards

Microdeal Leatherneck Tanglewood Atari ST 1040ST computer games - 1988Microdeal’s Leatherneck and Tanglewood for the Atari ST

I’ve never played either of these Atari ST games by Microdeal, but they look like fun. “Look” being the operative word. That’s because, as we all know, a screenshot alone is a poor judge of a game.

In fact, I recall being burned by screenshots many times back in the day. While browsing at Babbage’s or Software Etc. (former software retail chains), my brother and I would flip over various game boxes and ogle amazing, colorful in-game shots that would make us want to buy everything on the shelf.

If we did buy a game, we’d rush home and load it up. Nine times out of ten, those glorious box screenshots turned out to be the only pretty graphical scenes (often static) in the game. Or — even worse — the screenshots were from the uber-colorful Amiga / VGA / etc. version when in fact we were buying the Apple II version of the game (or we only had an EGA graphics card). Doh.

[ From STart, Summer 1988, rear cover ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Did you ever buy a game based on graphics alone — then come to regret it later?

8 Responses to “[ Retro Scan of the Week ] The Lure of Game Graphics”

  1. David Says:

    I remember buying a game – can’t remember the name of it – for the Commodore VIC-20 based on the screenshots on the back of the inlay. When I got it home it was truly unplayable. We lived in a small town where the only place to buy software was in the VHS video shop. Because the sold so few computer tapes, they often only had a single copy of any particular game, so I took it back and said it wouldn’t load. ‘No probs!’ was the answer. ‘We have loads of those. Thought they would sell well…’

    Worst purchase I ever made 🙂

  2. Alexander Says:

    Lego Creator for PC, from about 1998. The boxart and the advertisements in the Lego catalog made it seem amazing. After it installed, it proved to be a poor implementation of a sandbox environment for digital Legos. There really wasn’t much point in using it, and building or interacting with the world was lackluster to say the least.

    I still fire it up once in awhile to try and make sense of it, but it always ends the same way: putting it right back on the shelf with the other games.

  3. Jim T Says:

    When I was a kid, I really enjoyed Crystal Castles in the arcade. At home, I had an Atari 7800, and no concept of the fact that the same game could be different in different places. So you can imagine my thrill when I discovered that Crystal Castles was available for my system! Well, for the 2600 (the 7800 was backwards compatible), but who’s counting, right?

    Yeah. Right. 2600 games were not arcade game quality. I was not thrilled with that.

    The said thing is, a few years later when I got my Nintendo I got burned again. Having played Super Mario Bros in arcades before, I foolishly assumed that the NES did have Arcade quality graphics, so when I got Gauntlet for it, I was burned again….

  4. Geoff V. Says:

    Playstation, 007 Tomorrow Never Dies. Yikes! GoldenEye it was not.

  5. Jim Says:

    @Jim T – Gauntlet for the NES is actually a good game. Although it didn’t match the arcade version for graphics and sound, it did have unique power-ups and you could actually beat unlike the arcade version which went on forever.

    The game that burned me was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for the NES. Luckily, I only rented it and didn’t buy it. That game was a flaming bag of poo.

    Leatherneck looks interesting. Like a four player Ikari Warriors.

  6. HAns Says:

    1st game I bought for my mono-EGA 286-8mhz was Defender Of The Crown. Much crappier grafx than the Amiga version I salivated over….

  7. Bill S. Says:

    Jet, from subLogic. Watched it being demoed on an 8mhz 8088 (C= Colt!) at Service Merchandise. Filled polys, great framerate, decent color (EGA graphics, so 16 colors but my C64 at home only did 16 so hey it’s all good right…)

    Not so much. The 1.09mhz C64 wasn’t exactly up to filled polygons at any appreciable speed, and Jet ran like crap on the c64. I could get something approaching “smooth” when I turned the graphics down to next to no details. I had a horizon, and enemy aircraft were (at all ranges) just dots.

    But then on the other hand, I had F15 Strike Eagle, F19 Stealth and Gunship for the C64 and they all managed decent graphics and framerate.

  8. Ant Says:

    It sucked for me with my Apple //c!

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