Beautiful Old Boxart

Computer Foosball

Liza Daly has this great collection of beautiful old boxart from 30 years ago, along with a little bit of the story behind each one. Here is Liza’s write-up for Computer Foosball, pictured above:

I don’t even know where to start about how much I love this. The art is credited to Janet Lopez. The game was written by Apple employee Keithen Hayenga and came free with the Sirius Joyport, an external game adaptor which was less titillating than it sounds.

I love that the brush strokes are clearly visible in the background, and that one of the foosball teams is composed of little matching robots. I guess the spheroid thing in the middle is supposed to be the foosball flying at us, but the composition is weirdly static.

The Westminster typeface was already a cliche in 1983 and was rarely used in actual game packaging. The flat design of the background and the minimalist byline are also pretty odd. The net result is that this cover art looks less like an actual artifact and more like a contemporary designer’s idea of 1983.

Sirius Software published dozens of games in the period between 1980 and 1983, many coded by Nasir Gebelli, who left to form his own company when the Sirius founders refused to give him equity. Steven Levy covered Sirius in his seminal book on the early computer age, Hackers. If this post were about videogame titles rather than covers, they would get prime placement for The Earth Dies Screaming and Copts and Robbers.

Both Gebelli Software and Sirius published a lot of turds, in terms of both games and cover art. But the best of them are the best this period has to offer, almost indistinguishable from a lot of modern design. Some are credited to Lopez but most have no credit at all. They are great.

It brought a smile to my face when the Sirius Joyport game controller adapter page on Wikipedia reminded me that the device was also designed by a legend, and my old pal, Steve Woita.

Author: Jack Slater

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