‘An ancient tower. A hostile land. A deadly secret.’

The following ad–for Working Designs’ Exile: Wicked Phenomenon–appeared in a number of issues of TurboPlay magazine in the early 1990s.

Turbo fans whose memories have yet to fail them will recall that the image also appeared on the cover of said game, which was released in North America 1993.

Anyway, it’s a love-it-or-hate-it piece of art among gamers–a fact not lost on Working Designs’ Victor Ireland, who at some point told the folks at Hardcare Gaming 101:

“The Exile 2 cover is polarizing. People love it or hate it. It’s basically aping a style of diorama that was really popular to advertise games in Japan. NCS/MASAYA did quite a bit of it, and I wanted to bring that to the US as well. So, I chose Exile 2 as the game to try this on.

“When we ran the ad, EGM or Gamepro (I can’t remember) sent us a survey they did months later with their readers that had that ad listed as the ‘most remembered’ ad from the whole magazine, which, I think, justified the experiment. We tried it again for Vasteel, but the results weren’t that great, so we only used part of one of the space scenes on the back cover of the jewel case.”

Personally, I think the image is pretty cool. It’s certainly more interesting than most of the dreck that was passed off as TurboGrafx-16 cover “art” back in the day.


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6 responses to “‘An ancient tower. A hostile land. A deadly secret.’

  1. It’s definitely different and definitely interesting and, at least as a one-off, it’s pretty neat. I was in high school when that ad was in magazines, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t like it back then, as I wanted the Turbo and its games to come off as being as “cool” as possible, and a company taking a risky approach with artwork in the name of producing something distinct wasn’t a gamble that I was going to appreciate at that point, especially not with my favorite system being crushed in the sales race. But now, even though I still don’t find the darn thing particularly appealing aesthetically, I do think it was worthwhile as a novelty, and I’m glad it exists.

    What I appreciate most about it is that the image is very true to the game, recreating a fairly strange and memorable scene. Heck, I wish the game had been as interesting as the art.

  2. Pingback: Which box art is better? (Exile 2 edition) « i was a teenage pc engine fan

  3. You know, IvaNEC, even though I was a huge TG-16 fan back when this game came out, I don’t remember having an opinion — positive or negative — about it or its cover art. Maybe I’d already moved on by the time it came out?

    Anyway, I agree with you — as pretty much always. This piece of cover art definitely is a novelty, and noteworthy for that reason alone.

  4. Incidentally, Vic mentioned that NCS/Masaya often utilized this kind of art, and I think their L-Dis cover is a great example of how the style can be used to create a very cool and appropriate image for a game.

  5. Oh, yeah, the L-Dis cover definitely is cool. You like the game well enough, don’t you? I’ve never played it myself. The graphics always seemed a bit odd to me — not quite Parodius/TwinBee, but not quite Gate of Thunder, either.

  6. Yeah, L-Dis is a strong shooter. NCS/Masaya was my favorite maker of PC Engine games, and shooters were among the things they did best. Macross 2036, L-Dis, and the Choanikis are all worth playing. They also released a couple excellent ones for the Genesis/Mega Drive in Wings of Wor/Gynoug and Gleylancer.

    But back to L-Dis, it really is an oddball, because while it looks cartoony from a distance, it actually gets quite hard and really isn’t all that cute, especially during its later levels.

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