Old Game Box Art, vol. 8

This time around, I decided to post only about a single artist, Denis. R. Loubet. His, perhaps best-known cover art, was done to legendary Ultima series created by Richard Garriott. But besides doing great looking game box art, he has also done game art, concepts, illustrations and animations. While I am not covering his manual illustrations or other works besides box art,  some good examples of his works can be found from the Ultima game manuals.

You can see his stuff on his Facebook page or his official site, I guess, which is rather dated.

Akalabeth (1980)

I have never really played Akalabeth. that is to say, I've tried it, but never really gotten into the first game or Richard Garriott even before he founded Origin Systems. My familiarity, and the fact that the game was originally released with a bit different art (or a paper slip, stuck in a zip bag, as it was common in the early days), this Loubet piece has always caught my eye.

This dark and atmospheric image perfectly shows, how the games were sold with images of grandeur shown on the box when the game itself was mostly just some white lines and other shapes on black background.

The box art paints Akalabeth in an entirely different colour. When you see it before starting the game, you can imagine a world that looks vastly different than what the technology at the time was able to convey.

Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny (1988)

I have never really gotten into pre-Ultima VI games of the series. Many consider Ultima V to be one of the finest games in the series, but I never really got into it. But in any case, as a game, Ultima V continues from where Ultima IV left off. You are now Avatar, the embodiment of virtues in the world of Britannia.

You've been away or years and when you finally return, it is to only for you to find out, that things are different. The virtues you so hard fought to uphold in the previous game have now been bastardized in something entirely different thanks to governing ruler Blackthorn, who is keeping the seat warm for Lord British, who has gone missing.

While I've never gotten that far in the game itself, I have always loved its box art. It shows the Shadowlords looming over the avatar and his wounded companion. Or is it a wounded avatar and his companion in defence.

Either way, it is a lovely piece of art, which always made me want to play the game. And perhaps, in this case, it always was a bit disappointing how the game looked in comparison to the fantastic visage the box had.-

Times of Lore (1989)

Here's a title I've only played recently, but which has box art I've always admired. There is a sense of a beginning of a grand adventure in it, with a warrior standing in front of opened gates, the world disappearing to the horizon in front of him.

There is an entirely different mood in the picture compared to what Akalabeth has. The other is dark, gloomy and sinister, this is more like a promise of grander things ahead.

The game itself is not a pure RPG title like Ultima games are. It is more of a light RPG emphasizing action. This might not be a surprise, as it was designed by Chris Roberts, who later became better known for his groundbreaking wing Commander games and is now helming the biggest ever crowdfunded space/life simulator Star Citizen.

One notable thing about Times of Lore probably is the engine, which had started to look more like the one used in Ultima VI.

Ultima VI: The False Prophet (1990)

And talking of Ultima VI here is one of my all-time favourite game boxes. The avatar, standing over the slain gargoyle with godly rays of light beaming down from the heavens.

The poses, the composition and the colours are all very nicely done. This is an art piece, that is just mesmerizing despite how seemingly simple it is. But the further you get to the game, the less simple it becomes, at least as far meaning goes.

Again the atmosphere is very different here. This time around it feels like a scene of religious trance, with the saviour of Britannia stomping the menace under his powerful heel. It is a scene that would work as an altar painting in the Britannian church of the Virtues if they'd have one.

In the game itself, the gargoyles have a holy book, which is described to have the situation portrayed in the game box another way around. It is the avatar, the false prophet, who has been defeated by the gargoyle.

Ultima Underworld (1993)

The last one on this list is a game, that was greatly ahead of its time. A sort of a spin-off from the main Ultima series, designed by Paul Neurath, who later on was a part of Looking Glass Studios which made games like Thief and System Shock.

Ultima Underworld was a dungeon romp, where different populations dwelled on different levels and reacted on your actions. And unlike many other games of the day, it was a 1st person title in a real 3D world. It was, for the times' technology, a feat.

Another nicely atmospheric piece from Loubert. The avatar is, holding his sword, descending deeper to the dungeons, while monsters wait for him in the darkness.

Denis Loubert has done quite a few other game boxes, and like I said, other kinds of illustrations as well. But these are what have stuck to my mind of his art.





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