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2015, May 4th   King's Quest IV & V discarded box art

On the left-most is Sierra On-Line's King's Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella (1988) with an alternative cover art that the game was never published with. For comparison's sake next to it is the only actual released box cover art that shipped. 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.

Here is another beautiful alternative cover, of King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder! (1990) and a sketch version. It is without the under title in this early variant. They really should've used this for some box or platform release too.

It is a sligthly reconstructed picture for better presentation's sake. Thanks to various Internet sources for the KQ5 pictures. (If you have a scan of this or any other alternative box art or f.ex. advertisements that feature them, I'd be very interested to receive mail, thanks.)

Here you can view the actual release boxes of KQ5.

PS. You might also be interested in this thread about unused material from King's Quest and other Sierra games at Telltale forums (pages 2 and 3 have early KQ4 screenshots).

  • See more prototype box art here.
  • See King's Quest games owned by the Museum here.

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    2015, April 15th   1990s AD&D on-line games: Neverwinter Nights, Crimson Sands & Gorgon's Alliance

    "Neverwinter Nights" game box cover and this ad features a painting "Needle" (1987) by Clyde Caldwell.

    When I refer to Neverwinter Nights, it's not the 2002 BioWare game with the bleeding eye cover but the original 1991 on-line role-playing gold box game. Guess that shows I'm old... Anyways here's some short history in AD&D + on-line role-playing games.

    Let's start with the first Dungeons & Dragons video games. Mattel released two AD&D games for their Intellivison console in 1982: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons - CARTRIDGE (working title 'Cloudy Mountain') and AD&D: Treasure of Tarmin - CARTRIDGE. I'm being thorough here, thus the inclusion of the capitalized word 'cartridge' in the titles which was due to the contract including it. If it was important to them, why not we stick to that expression 33 years later :).

    Treasure of Tarmin was also released on Mattel Aquarius -system in 1983. The panoramic box design and its colors remind me of a box for a vintage analogic camera for some nostalgic reason. Those bulky cartridges of Aquarius are some quirky design, by the way.

    Meanwhile in the early 80s fantasy gaming, Strategic Simulations Inc. – the to-be-masters of strategy games – released their first fantasy-themed game in 1981: Chronicles of Osgorth – The Shattered Alliance, for Apple ][ and Atari 800. In the 1980s, 14 fantasy-themed games followed. In 1987 SSI acquired the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons -license and joined with TSR to produce the famous "gold box" series. First game in the series was Pool of Radiance (1988) as the Forgotten Realms series Vol. I.

    The success of the gold box series led to an on-line version of the established series. Developed by Stormfront Studios and released by SSI, AD&D Neverwinter Nights was one of the earliest on-line games published in 1991. It ran from 1991 to 1997 on AOL. Graphically it was EGA (320x200, 16 colors). To give proper credit, before Neverwinter, LucasFilm Games' Habitat (1986–1988) for Commodore 64 was an early pioneer as a graphical on-line roleplaying game (see Wikipedia and the book Rogue Leaders: The Story of LucasArts for more).

    In addition to gold box type of games, SSI also made many other AD&D and AD&D 2nd Edition games. Since this post focuses on on-line games, AD&D 2nd Ed.: Dark Sun On-Line: Crimsons Sands (1996) by TEN and SSI was the next step and had 256 color VGA graphics. As a collector I find this game boxed with CD particularly interesting because it is merely a collectible these days since the game server isn't online anymore and the game cannot be played off-line at all. It is nice that Neverwinter Nights on the other hand can be at least played a little (or the game-play tried) off-line, but I'm not sure how much progress can there be made.

    A review (in Finnish) of Dark Sun On-Line from the game magazine Pelit 10/1996"Sand in the Wheels".

    After the exclusive licensing agreement with SSI and TSR expired, other companies could get their chance on producing AD&D-games. Sierra On-Line's AD&D Birthright: The Gorgon's Alliance was released in 1996. This CD-ROM strategy game was developed by Synergistic Software. The Gorgon's Alliance wasn't actually a MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) but allowed Internet & networkplay, and up to 8 players, according to the box cover. Please share if you know more about this game's on-line abilities and what exactly were they (see the Write comment below). I'm a fan of Gorgon's painted box cover art; one of the best of Sierra's late 90s and it reminds of the good old 1980s RPG covers. For the curious, there was an alternative mock-up box cover made for the game seen in a 90s Sierra catalog.

  • See AD&D games owned by the Museum here.

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    2015, April 13th   Pelit-magazine – Finnish computer gaming magazine covers 1987–1998 Archived at Museum: Pelit-lehti.

    Here is my small tribute to the first and best computer gaming magazine of Finland, that is still being published. There were of course other earlier 1980s Finnish computer and technology magazines that featured game articles and reviews, such as MikroBitti (1984–), Printti* (1984–1987) and f.ex. some 80s issues of Tekniikan maailma (1953–) but there wasn't a magazine devoted to games only. Actually the early PELIT year books (1987–1991) included new fascinating articles about various aspects of the game world and also compiled game reviews from the MikroBitti and C= magazine (1987–1992). There were some other pretty exotique Finnish computer magazines too, such as Mega-X: Kotikoneilijan erikoislehti that had game articles too.

    Looking back, I think the beautifully crafted PELIT year books and magazines also played a big role why I became a game collector and why this Museum exists. These magazines first introduced me to many classics such as King's Quest and Ultima series, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Legend of Kyrandia, Simon the Sorcerer, Prince of Persia 2 and many more.

    In addition to the game reviews, solutions and other articles these magazines featured interesting inside coverages about companies making the games – Sierra, LucasArts, Origin, SSI, Electronic Arts, MicroProse etc. Here you can see the covers of the magazines from 1987 thru 1998 (ending here in Grim Fandango issue).

    * Trivia: Printti-magazine was in tabloid format and seems to have been made by the same publisher as Videolehti – a 1980s video film magazine. If you're interested in more 1980s nostalgia in the form of VHS and Beta videos, see The Finnish Video Museum.

    Ennen kuin Pelit-lehti alkoi ilmestymään lähes kuukausittain vuonna 1992, ilmestyi paksuhkoja n. 100-130-sivuisia Pelit - tietokonepelien vuosikirjoja 8 kappaletta vuodesta 1987 alkaen. Niissä julkaistiin uusia pelimaailmaan liittyviä mielenkiintoisia artikkeleita ym. juttuja monelta laidalta, pelien ratkaisuja ja niihin oli myös kerätty MikroBitti- ja C=-lehden (1987–1992) peliarvosteluja samoihin kansiin.

    Lisäksi vuosina 1990 ja 1991 ilmestyi kaksi PC-pelit-lehteä, jotka muistuttavat Pelit-vuosikirjoja sisällöltään ja lehtikooltaan.

    Vanhojen ja jo silloin harvinaisten vuosikirjojen peliratkaisujen valokopioita oli jopa tilattavissa postitse 90-luvulla – itse tilasin ainakin Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade:n ratkaisun.

    Päätoimittaja Tuija Lindenin sitaatti ensimmäisen numeron Pelit-vuosikirja 1987 kantta koskien:

    "Valittu todennäköisesti siksi, että oli olemassa tarpeeksi iso DIA. Myöhemmissä vuosikirjoissa oli kannessa aina hampaat." [Lähde]

    See the full index here with some table of contents -scans from the earliest magazines.

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    2015, April 13th   Old Ultima V article (1989)

    From an obscure early Finnish computer magazine Mega-X – Kansan kaikuja monitorien ääreltä: Kotikoneilijan erikoislehti 3/-89 (Tulostus Oy, Oulu), here's a game tip article on Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny written by P. Soininen. It's in Finnish.

    "Taistellaan läpi Ultima V" /
    Let's Fight Through Ultima V".

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    2015, April 11th   Retro 3D art – Bubble Bobble comes to life Archived at Retro: Lego.

    Bubble Bobble comes to life

    Bubble Bobble C64 (HitSquad) "The best of both worlds." Bubble Bobble is one of my all-time favorite arcade type of games. Above is my "3D" tribute / installation for it. The game was first released in the arcades in 1986 by Taito in Japan and later ported to many home computers and video game consoles. It's a very innovative game and a unique concept. The main idea is to blow bubbles to trap enemies inside them and then pop them out. You also have to master the art of hopping on bubbles as you require that ability when the game progresses. The bubbles feel so physical, real. Just blowing the screen full of bubbles is such fun. The music is legendary, though it can drive you mad with its infinite loop.

    The concept is nice too because for a rare welcomed change in the two player mode you do teamwork instead of fighting each other. I first played this on a Commodore 64 in the 1980s. I later played it on my IBM PS/1 in the 90s and on Amiga 500 and Nintendo 8-bit in the 2000s. I have yet to try f.ex. the Sega Master System version that has been complimented as I recall.

    Here's a comparison of the sprite of Bub between different platforms. Amstrad, Apple ][ and Spectrum Bubs are quite epic. C64 has a lot of character.

    Bubble Bobble platform comparison

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    2015, April 11th   Unreleased game: Babylon 5 – Into the Fire

    Babylon 5: The Ultimate Space Combat Game

    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. Here's the ad blurb:

    "You don't have to be a Babylon 5 fan to enjoy this epic game of combat and strategy. A space combat simulator destined to surpass all predecessors with extraordinary graphics, patent pending inertial flight mode, and ships based on the TV show's original digital models. Intense game play features real-time, 3D, first person space combat. Fight in the Starfury and Thunderbolt while encountering over 60 unique Earth Alliance and alien ships, or test your mettle aboard alien fighters in the robust multi-player mode."

    Although the game never made it, some merchandise items were produced, to the delight of us collectors. These included f.ex. a prototype flip box, a poster, a 3D lenticular mouse pad, a wrist watch and a magnet. Christopher Franke composed new music for the game and two tracks of it can be found on The Official Guide to Babylon 5 (released in 1998). 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.

    See here for pictures of Sierra's Babylon 5 merchandise owned by the Museum and here for more prototype game box art.

    EDIT 2015-05-18: I just noticed. It's amazing but true – 15 years after it was cancelled, a playable alpha release of the Babylon 5: Into the Fire saw the light of day in autumn 2014! Didn't think this was ever going to happen. You can read more about this here and see the game play here.

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    2015, April 11th   Unfinished game: Springbringer See this post archived at Retro: Synchronic

    Springbringer - Game menu concept © Jukka Eronen

    Here's a first post in a series of articles about unfinished/unreleased games and their artwork; both by big game companies and independent stuff, such as my own retro games by Synchronic Presentations.

    Springbringer: White Swan -sprite © Jukka Eronen A forever pet project of mine, the Springbringer saga started in around 2002 both as designs for a classic-style adventure game with a working title Eve Santon and as comic book illustrations. The events of Springbringer take place in a fantasy world of New Nature, a planet of three moons, where swans, dragons, deer, other mystical animals, beings and spirits of nature live. New Nature is a world full of wonders and a poetic place where seasons can change unexpectedly. The game ideas, illustrations and comic book ideas merged while developing the world. These pictures and game concept arts are mainly from 2002–2008 with some revisits from 2015. The menu screen utilizes a scan of an oil painting from 2007 called Springbringer: Moon of the Spring (56x69 cm).

    Springbringer © Jukka Eronen

    Story setting: "Three thousand suns ago... A seed falls from the sky. It lands on the bottom of a pond. Something beatiful starts to happen. The seed begins to sprout. It rises and breaks the water surface. A Sprite is born. Swans gather around the Sprite calling them. The pond starts to effervesce. The Moon shines overhead and sees it all. The Sprite sends the swans on a voyage to the Moon. They must fly there before the sky freezes over..."

    Eve Santon © 2015 Jukka Eronen

    The development of my fantasy worlds often begin with a singular picture, scene or a concept. The picture above is 2015 version of a 2002 picture of the high castle of Eve Santon. I made and edited it from a photo my grandmother took in the Canary Islands in the 1970s. In this 2015 version a mist dragon is approaching "the castle on top of the world". In the original 2002 version two giant cloud birds flew in the sky approaching the castle. That version was used as cover for an ambient/trance/electronic CD album Choices for the New Nature: The Wish of Being the Guardian of Life (Synchronic, 2002). There is also medieval music based on this scene and other pieces (MP3s are upcoming to the Music-section).

    Springbringer © Jukka Eronen
    Springbringer © Jukka Eronen
    Sprite animations of the white and gray swan (2002).

    Springbringer - Sprites © Jukka Eronen
    Rentauxs – the dragon of black fire, Fire Dragon, black swan, ash swan, gray swan and the Sprite of Spring.

    Here above are some sample pages from the old version of the comic book under development from 2002–2009. A new version of the Springbringer comic book (graphic novel) and illustrations are still planned. They are in a different style – more lively and sketch-like. Fine art in the form of etchings and lithographs has also been made (enquire originals or prints – here and here are more pictures).

    Land of Shadows © 2010 Jukka Eronen
    A Land of Shadows (2010),
    Swan Mirror © 2008 Jukka Eronen
    Swan Mirror (2008),

    Springbringer DVD The game is still thought of sometimes but currently there are no plans for it. However, a short film based on the Springbringer fantasy world of New Nature was released in 2008. The film, Springbringer: Songs from the World of New Nature, got 2nd place in Dragon*Con Independent Short Film Festival 2009 in the documentary category. This poetic arthouse/fantasy movie was broadcast on Finnish national television YLE TV1 in the Easter of 2010. The teaser of the film got 2nd place in Kamera-magazine's one minute film competition in 2008. Music from the Soundtrack CD was broadcast on YLE Radio 1 in 2008. Here's a teaser trailer of the film in English:

    There was also a board game made for fun called Springbringer: Labyrinth of Thoughts (2008) – with one copy made.

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    2015, April 1st   Quest of Thrones See this post archived at Retro: QOT -section. 

    A rare, long thought-to-be lost Sierra 3D animated adventure/role-playing game has surfaced – using the AGI engine in glorious 16 colors (160x200 resolution) and on three DD disks for PC from 1986: Quest of Thrones! Based on George R.R. Martin's epic fantasy A Song of Ice and Fire, you could say this game was ahead of its time.

    Direct YouTube-link:

    Title screen.

    Map showing currently available travelling destinations.

    Here's a short sample of the theme music on PC beeper from the title screen as MP3.

    Here's the blurb from a catalog:

    "This multiple disk adventure takes you to the lands of Westeros and Essos where great royal houses war for control of Westeros. Also a great threat is unleashing beyond the enormous ice wall in the north. A colorful coth map helps you negotiate the places, cities and continents as they evolve around the story unfolding.

    Select from these seven characters who you want to play as:
    – Daenerys Stormborn – Tyrion Lannister – John Snow
    – Arya Stark – Little Finger – Davos Seaworth – Hodor

    Choose your loyalness to one or more of these houses:
    – Stark – Lannister – Baratheon – Targaryen – Greyjoy

    Welcome to the realm of Westeros and Essos. Only in this arena can you —“
    – Travel to places faraway by land or sea
    – Serve your watch at the Wall
    – Learn the art of sword fighting from the Master of Braavos
    – Gather your forces and orchestrate great battles
    – Find out whether dragons are alive at this age

    The outcome of the quest for the throne is up to you!"

    Daenerys with Dragon in AGI

    Daenerys with a baby dragon. (16 colors, 160x200.)

    PC CGA version (4 colors).

    Game of Thrones retro pixel art game White Walker PC EGA 1980s style

    A White Walker.

    Game of Thrones retro pixel art game White Walker PC CGA 1980s style

    CGA Walker.

    Daenerys and Ser Jorrah arrive at the gates of Qarth.

    CGA gates of Qarth.

    Game of Thrones retro pixel art game Apple Macintosh 1980s style

    Macintosh version, 640x400 (monochrome 2 colors).

    Game of Thrones retro pixel art game White Walker Apple Macintosh 1980s style

    Macintosh Walker.

    Game of Thrones Commodore 64 version - retro pixel art adventure game 1980s video game style

    Commodore 64 version (160x200).

    Game of Thrones Commodore 64 version: White Walker - retro pixel art adventure game 1980s video game style

    Commodore 64 version (160x200).


    Cloth map of Westeros and Essos.

    IBM PS/1 in the works with Quest of Thrones.
    (PS. Can you spot the Coin of Braavos?)

    3.5" DD (720K) disks.

    Coin of Braavos.

    Ad blurb from a catalog (with an early discarded black box style).

    PS. I was inspired to do this as an april fools joke for 2015 when I saw this beautiful AGI picture by Lambonius (check the 6th post) made from The Lord of The Rings. Very soon it came to me that Game of Thrones deserved a similar treatment.

    EDIT 2019-04-23: A White Walker PC EGA (AGI) and Macintosh version screenshots added!
    EDIT 2019-04-25: A White Walker PC CGA (AGI) screenshot added!

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    2014, April 1st   Return to Mt. Drash (Vic=20)

    Found something peculiar from the depths of a deserted cave today!

    Return to Mt. Drash - April 1st

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