Unreleased, Alternative and Early Concept Art

Latest updates:

2006-05-03   Ultima 25th Anniversary and Wing Commander 15th Anniversary, and Spanish The Dig added.

2006-04-20   I've corrected some texts, revised the layout and added many new alternative cover arts.

This page is about unreleased prototype game box cover art and alternative box covers.
Currently featuring Sierra, LucasArts, SSI, AD&D, Ultima and Tolkien.
I update this page every once in a while when I find new covers to show.
The left-most cover is prototype in all and usually the others are actual releases.

You can also send me pictures. So please do so if you have alternative/unreleased cover or other game arts scanned from catalogs, magazines or from elsewhere. Or just mail me even if you know where to find them (f.ex. which catalogs/magazine contain them).
I can also buy your catalogs. My most wanted are Sierra/SierraVenture/On-Line Systems catalogs, especially early ones like Sierra On-Line Software Catalog (it is from early 1980s), and SSI catalogs and LucasArts' Adventurer-magazines.

Old and new game catalogs often contain some form of prototype art. Early (or alternative/prototype/concept/unfinished) cover arts are fascinating because they give insights to the process of art, graphic and game design. Of course they're just a beauty to look at also. And finding these rare pictures is hard which makes it a challenge and fun.

The alternative covers often raise questions, like why were there totally or slightly different versions made of a certain cover, or why was something disqualified etc. Sometimes covers were abandoned or remade because of artistic or thematic reasons, some other times due to commercial decisions. At occasions they were just slightly altered or enhanced. Releases for different countries have often newly made covers due to the target audience (f.ex. creating an anime-style cover for the Japanese market).

If you know any original artist who made some of these game covers, please mail me.
I also have a page about game box artists.

I don't have original artwork of these myself (only the catalogs). If you'd happen to have any kind of original art, illustrations or prototype game boxes for sale, I'd be interested in buying. But I'd be interested in just hearing about something in your possession and possibly seeing pictures of it even if you wouldn't like to sell it.

Disclaimer: I have scanned and edited these (correcting missing parts, cropping, color & perspective corrections etc.). Almost all of these unreleased box pictures are not available elsewhere on the Internet. If you refer or share some of them please provide a link to Fantasy Adventures. Copyrights of the art and box covers displayed here belong to their respectful owners (Sierra On-Line Inc., LucasFilm, Tolkien Enterprises, Strategic Simulations Inc., etc.).


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Mission: Asteroid (Hi-Res Adventure #0) (1981)

The picture at left is an ad for Mission: Asteroid from back of Sierra's Time Zone poster (thanks for the picture to H. Feldman's Computer Game Museum). It was also featured on back of an old On-Line Systems magazine. This is one of the times that the art was abandoned for pretty obvious reasons; it doesn't stand out and looks quite unfinished.

Mission: Asteroid was released in many different packaging: On-Line Systems Apple-folder (1980), On-Line Systems Atari-folder (1980), SierraVenture Large Folder (1982), Sierra On-Line Inc. Box (1983), plus the budget releases (U.S. Gold, Impulse Software). On the right is the cover of 1980 Atari-version.

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King's Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella (1988)

On the left is King's Quest IV with unreleased cover art from a Sierra catalog. The game was never published with this art. KQ4 had two graphically different releases: AGI (160x100) and SCI0 (320x200) – both with 16 color palette. Even the rare AGI-version has the same box cover as SCI0-version; the difference between those box versions is in the platform sticker on front bottom-left (which isn't seen on these pictures). I really wish they used the discarded box art with Lolotte grabbing Genesta's necklace for the AGI-version so there would be two distinctive boxes. Now you always have to squint your eyes to see the miniature font at the platform sticker for either 256K (AGI) or 512K (SCI0).

KQ4 was pioneering in the way that the game protagonist was female.

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King's Quest VII: The Princeless Bride (1994)

Here's a very unfinished version of the King's Quest VII cover from Sierra Multimedia Catalogue 1994-1995.
Also notice the spelling: "Prince-less" in the unfinished one.
KQ7 was released with the other two covers on right.
There's a US one-piece box and also a European slip cover box version of the middle cover.

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King's Quest: Mask of Eternity (a.k.a. KQ8) (1998)

Here's an interesting alternative early cover (with the
90s Sierra logo style) as opposed to the new 3D rendered art.

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Hero's Quest: So You Want to Be a Hero &
Quest for Glory I: So You Want to Be a Hero (1989 & 1990)

The first cover is the prototype cover, the second is the first release and third is a re-release with new name.
Sierra had to change the original title because Hero's Quest was to be confused with Hero Quest board game.

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Gold Rush! (1988)

Prototype box cover for Gold Rush!, that has many differences, like a different logo
(which is also missing explanation mark), layout, background pattern and the flags and characters.

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Goofy's Word Factory (1984, not released)

Here is one rare piece. The box shot is from a Sierra/Disney Personal Computer Software -ad.
Here's what it reads on the ad:

"Today, Goofy starts his new job at the word factory. As words move along the conveyor belt, it's his job to sort them out, dropping each in the chute where it belongs - nouns in the noun chute, verbs in the verb chute, and so on.
He can carry each word to its proper chute, but that takes time. Or he can throw the words, but he'll have to watch out for the passers-by. Goofy sure could use your help. If he does well, he may even get promoted."

Oddly enough, I have a 1986 Sierra registration card that mentions Goofy's Word Factory with these computer platforms and even prices that suggest the game would have been available for purchase: Apple II ($29.95), Commodore 64 ($24.95) and PC ($29.95). Odd, because Al Lowe worked on this game, whom I talked to via e-mail in 2004, told the game was cancelled back in the 80s.

Before this page, I've found only one other reference for this game in the web, here (in the half section). The actually released Sierra's Walt Disney Personal Computer Software games are covered after this game.

If you know anything more about the Goofy game, please mail me.

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Donald Duck's Playground,
Mickey's Space Adventure &
Winnie the Pooh in the Hundred Acre Wood (1984)

Sierra's and Disney's educational game series for children included Donald Duck's Playground,
Mickey's Space Adventure and Winnie the Pooh in the Hundred Acre Wood.
There were two releases of each game: plastic clamshell box (1984) and cardboard flip box (1986).

At the top are drawn prototype covers and at the bottom are the released covers from clamshell-releases. Even all the texts and logos are drawn in the unreleased covers. They appeared in a Walt Disney Personal Computer Software ad that came with the clamshell-releases. Colors, characters and their positions and expressions, details etc. are different on these versions, and of course the style itself. Winnie the Pooh has the most differences (can you spot them all?-).

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The Black Cauldron (1986)

The Black Cauldron was based on the Disney movie of the same name.
Only differences in these game covers is the background color.

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Wrath of Denethenor (1986)

This fantasy role-playing game was available for Apple ][ and Commodore 64. The original logo had "The" in the title. The game was released in a flip box, like The Black Cauldron, King's Quest II and III etc. Christopher Crim designed the game; here's his website.

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Sorcerian (1990)

The very different covers to the fantasy role-playing game made by Nihon Falcom and published by Sierra. The game was released only with the second cover. I actually like the unreleased cover art better (though the released one is pretty cool too, as the panorama art goes all the way to the back).

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Conquests of Camelot: The Search for the Grail (1989)

Here are very interesting alternative covers for Conquests of Camelot as it shows how the box design process progressed. Notice that the original working title they had in mind for the game was "King Arthur and the Search for the Grail". And as I bolded those letters S, f and G you can see that's where those three different sized "drops" in the frame originally came from and weren't removed from later covers either! :) That was either artistic decision or coincidence.

Apparently Sierra once again wanted to add the famous word "quest" to the title so they came up with "Conquests". Though note that the middle cover reads Conquest. That logo surely looks very stylish and great but in addition to the plural-form they wanted to clear it up a bit and to emphasize the word "Camelot" in the final cover. Notice also the different type corner pieces.

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Police Quest 2: The Vengeance (1988)

Police Quest 2, or Police Quest Two like the unfinished version says. Other differences to the final cover being f.ex. that they added the undertitle "The Vengeance" and to the right a tree with leaves. And the "explosion" (?) art in the top left is different.

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Codename: Iceman (1990)

The first is a poster from Sierra Magazine, the second is a prototype art from Sierra catalog, and the right picture is the actual release. The art was painted by John Shaw. Here are more of his Sierra arts (and other artists) listed.

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Manhunter: New York (1988)

The first is a promotional poster, the second is a prototype art from Sierra catalog, and the right picture is the actual release.
The art was painted by John Shaw. Here are more of his Sierra arts (and other artists) listed.

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Castle of Dr. Brain (1991)

Comic book style version of the Castle of Dr. Brain cover. The original version had "The" in the title.

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Leisure Suit Larry Goes Looking for Love
(In Several Wrong Places)
("Larry 2") (1988)

Larry 2 cover art before texts were added.

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Leisure Suit Larry: Love for Sail! (a.k.a. Larry 7) (1997)

Alternative early cover for Leisure Suit Larry 7 that appeared in Sierra Catalog '96-'97. The game's original title was Yank Hers Away!

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Capitol Punishment (199?, unreleased)

This is box art and a screenshot from an unfinished Al Lowe game Capitol Punishment (scanned from Finnish PELIT magazine). It was supposed to be a spoof on Bill and Hillary Clinton. According to Al Lowe, the premise with some clever ideas in it seemed better than the game itself, so it didn't get released.

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Phantasmagoria (1995)

First two are prototypes, third is actual release (being US one-piece box release, there is also a European slip cover). The blue text in the middle doesn't belong to the actual cover; the scan is from an article.

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A Gabriel Knight Mystery: The Beast Within (a.k.a. GK2) (1995)

The first two are prototypes, third is actual release (being the European slip cover release, there is also a US one-piece box).

Although great and one of my favorites, I can see why they didn't choose the first style as the final, because for one it makes the cover too even and centerlined, and the final cover is more coherent.

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AD&D Birthright: The Gorgon's Alliance (1996)

After the long and successful AD&D licensing agreement between SSI and TSR expired, TSR gave various companies licenses
to use their D&D brand (with various results). Here's Sierra's take on the Dungeons & Dragons world Birthright. The unreleased art is from a Sierra catalog. And like usual, Birthright too was released in the US as a one-piece box and in the Europe as a slip cover box. The second cover shown here is from the Euro version. The released cover art is one of the coolest from Sierra's late 90s.

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Space Quest 6: Roger Wilco - The Spinal Frontier (1995)

This is the only prototype from this page I have as an original hi-res sheet from a promotional Sierra Press Folder 1995 (which also features other ads that I will scan at some point).

The picture at right is of the European slip cover release, there's also a US one-piece box.

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Rama (1997)

Early cover of Rama. This was also on Sierra Catalog '96-'97. The same picture was also used f.ex. as back covers of the "Limited Edition" CD cardboard cases.

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Babylon 5: Into the Fire (1998, unreleased)

The development on Babylon 5: In to the Fire - The Ultimate Space Combat Game (a.k.a. Babylon 5 Combat Simulator) started in 1998 by Sierra FX, Yosemite Entertainment and Warner Bros. Unfortunately Sierra cancelled the game and laid off the development staff in September 21st 1999.

Although the game never made it, some merchandise items were produced. These included f.ex. a poster, a 3D mouse pad and a wrist watch featuring a shadow vessel and a prototype box. You can see them here.

Christopher Franke composed new music for the game and two tracks of it can be found on The Official Guide to J. Michael Straczynski's Babylon 5 (released in 1998), also by Sierra. used to have the official Sierra's Babylon 5 game site ( saved in almost its entirety, but unfortunately these days the site is down. There were f.ex. lots of info, screenshots and movie trailers of the game.

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The Dig (1995)

An amazing art from a Spanish advertisement for The Dig (click on it to see it larger, thanks to El Dodo for the scan), prototype box cover from an old game magazine ad and the actual release cover. The middle and right covers have this text:
"A deep space adventure by Sean Clark in collaboration with filmmaker Steven Spielberg". Here's the ad blurb:

"Fantastic sci-fi adventure written by Steven Spielberg. Space shuttle is launched to space and the crew finds itself on a strange planet. 3D-graphics and beautiful cut scene animations. It is different. It is an experience. You have to see it for yourself."

The ad didn't mention one of the greatest aspect of The Dig in addition to art: Michael Land's brilliant ambient soundtrack.

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Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe (1990)

Early cover of Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe (from an U.S.Gold catalog) is from
a different angle than the actual release with its more massive and threatening look.

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LucasArts Archives Vol. 1 (1990)

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Strategic Simulations Inc.

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Chronicles of Osgorth: The Shattered Alliance (1981)

This is the first SSI fantasy game and one of the rarest of them. It is a fantasy wargame about a world called Osgorth:
"The wonder world replete with the spells of sorcerers and clashing swords that give voice to the fierce battles between rival kingdoms and among exotic creatures. Conflict abounds when humankind, elves, dwarves, lizardmen, unicorns and other wondrous beings amass under your command to seek glory and conquest."

The first picture appears on some SSI catalogs (at least SSI Summer 1983 and SSI Fall '85/Winter '86). Its background is black where in the actual version the background is purple. There aren't other differences to be noticed. Second cover is the actual release for Apple ][. Third cover is the Atari version; it has a diagonal white border at top left stating it. The art is by Louis Hsu Saekow, SSI's head art designer of many years.

According to the box back SSI planned sequels for Chronicles of Osgorth but for reasons unknown and to my knowledge they weren't released. Instead they released many other succesful fantasy role-playing games.

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Rings of Zilfin (1986)

Very interesting prototype art for Rings of Zilfin. It's very comic book -like, as was the Chronicles of Osgorth -cover. The finished version is a painting. This early art is from Computer Gaming World, Issue 27 (1986) -magazine. (Thanks to Computer Gaming World Museum for this cover.)

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Shard of Spring (1986)

At first only colors and logo look different but the art isn't the same either. Compare f.ex. the whirl coming from the girl's hand and the shard.

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AD&D Pool of Radiance (1988)

Slightly different early box style for Pool of Radiance from an SSI catalog and actual release.

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AD&D War of the Lance (1989–90)

Here is an original pencil sketch to the awesome misty-orange painting "The Siege of Kalaman" by Jeff Easly. This was first featured in art calendar "1987 Dragonlance Calendar" and later as a box cover for SSI's Dragonlance-themed strategy game War of the Lance for Apple ][ (1989) and PC & Commodore 64 (1990).

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AD&D Neverwinter Nights (1991–93)

Here is the whole artwork featured in SSI's/AOL's highly collectible early on-line game AD&D Neverwinter Nights originally from 1991. The painting is called "Needle" by Clyde Caldwell.

The original artworks for SSI's gold box and other Dungeons & Dragons games are especially interesting because you often see only a very small fraction of the whole panoramic artwork in the game box.

For some curious reason, the painting was flipped horizontally in this SSI "NWN" gold box cover. Perhaps it was a matter of dynamics or just a mistake?

  • More about AD&D on-line games here.
  • And more about Dungeons & Dragons art here (in Finnish).

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    The Summoning (1992)

    Once again an early comic book style sketch (from SSI catalog) and actual cover,
    painted by Luis Royo (thanks to Pedro Q. for the artist info).

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    Colonial Conquest (1985)

    Early art concept for Colonial Conquest from SSI catalog and actual release.

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    Six-Gun Shootout (1985)

    Many differences on this one.

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    Coming: Legends of Valour (1992)

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    Coming: Cyber Empires (1992)

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    Ultima I: The Original (1983)

    In early 1980s, Richard Garriott/Lord British joined with Sierra to publish Ultima II: Revenge of the Enchantress (1982) and Atari 400/800-version of Ultima I: The Original (1983; Apple-version of the first Ultima by California Pacific Computer Company came already in 1980). After the venture with Sierra, Garriott started his own company, Origin Systems Inc. in 1983.

    The beautiful cover art for Ultima I: The Original was taken from the back of the large Ultima II (SierraVenture) box. Unreleased prototype art in the left is from an old Sierra catalog. The prototype cover in the middle is very interesting since it has the old On-Line Systems -logo. The cover in the right, part of the SierraVenture-series, is the only actual release box, which is pretty rare.

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    Ultima: Escape from Mt. Drash (1983)

    Sierra re-reused the castle/moon art (that originally appeared in back of the large Ultima II SierraVenture box) for a third time in Ultima: Escape from Mt. Drash. There was a magazine ad for it in 1983 but for over a decade it was thought that the game had never been released. In recent years, few complete copies have surfaced and a few loose cassettes. For many this is the Holy Grail of computer game collecting.

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    Ultima VIII: The Lost Vale (1994, unreleased)

    Ultima VIII: The Lost Vale was originally planned as an add-on sequel to Ultima VIII Pagan. The add-on was in development for several months and at least nearly finished. But due to poor sales of Ultima VIII, they decided not to publish it. The game would have come on 3.5" disks. The box seen above surfaced in fall 2005 and was sold on eBay. It is the only prototype box of this title known to exist for now.

    Here's what the box back reads:

    Sharpen your finest sword and strap on your strongest armor -- you're about to confront dangers that have been sealed away for centuries. Ages ago, the Titans entombed their foes in the largest sepulcher ever known on the isle of Pagan, and they've remained trapped in that prison-valley for generations. Today, the legendary Lost Vale is all but forgotten.     Now it's time for you to fight your way past the waves of obstacles between you and success. Wisdom, magic and soaring powers beyond anything ever seen on the isle of Pagan are yours for the taking -- if you survive the savage harpies, water zombies and other perils that challenge your every step.

  • Expand the adventure of Ultima VIII with an additional storyline containing new people, creatures and situations.
  • Accumulate extraordinary strength and abilities, becoming a truly formidable champion.
  • Acquire the Bag of Reagents -- a never-ending source of supplies for spell casting.
  • Discover and vanquish monsters unique to the secret land.

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    Origin Systems Inc.

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    Ultima 25th Anniversary Edition (2005, cancelled)
    Wing Commander 15th Anniversary Edition (planned)

    Click on pictures to see the whole add. Thanks to Stephen Emond who designed these covers and he also provided the information below. Stephen is the author of the Ultima – Ultimate Collector's Guide book series and Sierra Ultimate Guides.

    Ultima: 25th Anniversary Edition was supposed to be a massive Windows XP compatible collection of EVERY Ultima (except likely Runes of Virtue 1 & 2 and Escape from Mt. Drash). It would have finally included f.ex. the Underworlds, Savage Empire and Martian Dreams (Stephen even had people hunting for the Lost Vale). Special history book, atlas, soundtrack, in-game Ultima related items for UO for each Ultima Prime... The works.

    Neither of these collections were announced to the public, but at a UO meet-up they dropped a few teaser hints about the Ultima 25th Ann. It was originally supposed to come out November 2005, but then got pushed back to January 2006 before eventually being cancelled. The Wing Commander 15th Anniversary Edition on the other hand was never officially "green-lighted" by EA but they were considering it. The WC cover would have likely changed for a final version. As for the Ultima 25th, they loved the box mock up Stephen made, so that could have been the final cover.

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    J.R.R. Tolkien

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    The Lord of the Rigs, Journey to Rivendell (1983, unreleased)

    And last but as one of the best: The Lord of the Rings, Journey to Rivendell. The cover art is scanned from Parker Brothers 1983 catalog which I then edited. The box back and side are a reconstruction made by me of what the finished box might have looked liked. The layout is based on the other PB game boxes of the time. The same PB catalog has many other prototype box arts too.

    From merchandising and licensing point the game is related to the animated The Lord of the Rings (1978) movie by Ralph Bakshi; f.ex. logos and appearance of the characters on cover (riding Nazgûls, Frodo and his hobbit friends hiding under the tree stomp) are the same.

    The game itself was near completed and it's prototype game cartridge and display box were discovered in 2001 (coincidentally prior to movie premiere of The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring by Peter Jackson). Read more about the game here (f.ex. the ROM image is available for download there).

    "The Lord of the Rings, Journey to Rivendell is a new adventure game based on the fantasy novels by J.R.R. Tolkien. Relive the adventures of Frodo as he travels from his home in the Shire to Rivendell. You'll face constant choices as you journey through Middle Earth, trying to avoid the Black Riders. Use the unique map to pinpoint your location as you move through more than 2000 exciting screens."

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    Please include a link to Fantasy Adventures if you refer to pictures shown here.

    AD&D screenshot