10 of the best retro game covers
The Adventures of Bayou Billy (1988 – NES)
Despite the, er, rural setting, The Adventures of Bayou Billy was released in Japan under the name Mad City. As you can glean from the rope belt and battered hat sported by Bayou Billy on the cover – and the young lady in Daisy Dukes – this game was the most yee-haw redneck thing to hit the small screen since The Dukes of Hazzard.
The gameplay saw you fighting, driving, and shooting your way through enemies in order to rescue a girl (that old chestnut). Rather brilliantly, it saw you swapping between the NES controller and the Zapper light gun for shoot out stages. Wearing that hick hat in your bedroom was optional.
Saboteur II (1989 – C64, IBM)
A ninja, hacking away at panthers while riding a motorbike. Saboteur II's cover threw in everything but the kitchen sink in its bid to win over adolescent video gamers. You play Necra, a second-generation ninja warrior hand-picked and trained in special weaponry and hand-to-hand combat – labeled a lone and ruthless killer. Back in the day, the game's 700 screens of action actually qualified as a selling point.
Ballistix (1989 – Amiga, Atari ST, Acorn, BBC Micro, C64, MS-DOS)
The cover artwork for Psygnosis games was something else, offering up visions of spaceships, chrome and lizard men that appeared to have wandered in from a prog rock album cover.
Ballistix is a case in point – no, it isn’t about robot demonic warriors dropping bombs on the innocent from the skies. Rather it’s a future sport that involves directing a puck into a goal by shooting small balls at it. These amazing covers really oversold the games back then, huh?
Renegade – The Hit Squad (1987 – ZX Spectrum, C64)
Its cover stars may look more like the Village People than The Warriors, but this early example of the side-scrolling beat-em-up lived up to the ultraviolence depicted in its artwork – even if it came on a tape and took minutes to load. And who knew there were so many spiked maces available on the streets of New York?
Operation Stealth (1990 – Amiga, Atari ST, MS-DOS)
You can always rely on the French to take creative thought to another plane – in this case a different universe inside a blazer. Delphine’s game cover mixes Miami Vice with Battlestar Galactica, though the game itself is more down-to-earth – it's a spy adventure in which Jim Glames tries to track down stolen F-19 stealth planes.
In the US, the game was actually released as a James Bond adventure, though why Britain's finest secret agent is taking orders from the CIA throughout is never explained.