I just realized that I haven’t had a post run for a few days on the blog, and while there isn’t much news that isn’t related to The Thing Which Shall Not Be Named, it has meant that there is time for putting together other articles. We did get some of this with the recent reworked arcade art post, and that had my thinking about another wealth of art found in arcades – flyers.
Flyers have been on my mind between a discussion on the Arcade Heroes Discord server and seeing a few things on Twitter this past week. Flyers have always had a role in the industry, with the primary purpose of them being to interest an operator into buying the machine. How well flyers do this has been quite uneven – sometimes a flyer was designed to be like a mini-manual, in others they’ve been almost entirely pointless. You also have to appreciate those that went all the way and have a miniature comic book built into them, like with Sega’s Galaxy Force brochure; or since a fast-action arcade game can’t convey it, lay out a full backstory to the events, as Atari did with the Millipede flyer.
One thing that I miss from the occasional appearance of modern flyers, is using them to not only inform you, but to build on the lore of the game through well-produced art. This is what companies like Atari did for their home games, as discussed in my review of The Art of Atari. Granted, it’s not entirely fair to only point the finger at modern flyers, as there are some from the past that likewise didn’t really tell you about the product or make any effort to spruce things up with artwork. But, when I look at modern flyers, I am hard pressed to find any that are informative and have an aura of fun, personality or wonder to them, conveyed with some great artwork or even models.
That’s what we’ll be looking at today, flyers that have a creative component to them that makes them fun, cool, memorable, nice to look at, etc. I am pulling these from the great site, Flyer Fever. I will also link to their informative sides, which is a criticism I can level against a vast majority of new age flyers. If all you have is a picture of the game cabinet and dimensions, then that is pretty lame and forgettable – I question why even produce a flyer if you’re not going to at least lay out all or most of the game features. If anyone knows the artist who produced these pieces, please say so in the comments so credit can be given where it is due.
Let’s start with one from Namco, DragonBuster. I’ll only post one side of the flyer that is replete with artwork; you can find the informative side here at Flyer Fever. What I like (and miss) about 80’s & 90’s flyers is how they would proffer tips on how to play the game, explaining the controls, situations or techniques instead of just leaving that up to operators or players to figure out. It wouldn’t spoil the game, but entice the reader to check out the game. Even if players never saw the flyer, a good and informed operator could learn how a game works so they could inform their customers when they ask. H/T to Gaming Hell on Twitter for mentioning this one, and finding that it was likely made by Hiroshi Ono.
Going from fantasy to out space here, with this nicely painted flyer for The Next Space (a pretty obscure game that I’ve never played). There is some Galaxian influence on this one. The backside of the flyer details the power up system and how it works, which is something that you like to know when you play an STG.
Let’s get sporty with Sega’s Water Match, a game that was kind of like Track & Field but with the focus on water sports. Check here for the info on the back.
It’s not as well remembered as the first, but I think that out of the three Double dragon games, the flyer for Double Dragon II: The Revenge is the best. Check Flyer Fever for the other side that details the game and showed off some screenshots.
One has to tip their hat to Namco for having someone around to produce art like this for their games throughout the 80’s. It’s what you would expect Galaga to be like in first-person. Full flyer.
From the macho era of manly men beating the living daylights out of nasty creatures, it’s Crossed Blades (Blade Master) by Irem. Full flyer. Bonus: A little bit of engrish.
One can’t discount the usefulness of models in a flyer either. Sometimes it’s goofy (see – most Konami flyers from the 80’s), but I still like the thought and heart that went into these, as it takes more creativity then simply slapping a cabinet onto a paper with dimensions and a logo. Full flyer.
Speaking of Konami, it was Konami USA that went with models & sets, while Konami JP was cranking out artwork. To compare:
I just love the detail put into this art for Taito’s Space Invaders sequel, The Majestic Twelve. In an odd decision, they changed this up with less detail (but a tiny bit of humor) for the US version. Full flyer:
Sometimes one can appreciate simplicity too. Atari loved to make their flyers in the 70’s with clean & bold colors(probably because they would be easy to spot in a distributor office that was packed with them), often combining art & live models. They also really liked frames. Here’s a simple one for Sprint 2; Full flyer:
A year before Samus Aran went along hunting Metroids, Kissy was saving PACCET from alien destruction in Namco’s Baraduke. Full flyer.
Here’s one from SNK that isn’t informative at all, it works more like a movie poster, although it was only the US version that lacked details on a second page that were found on the JP flyer.
By looking at this flyer of Taito’s Chase H.Q., you’re more rad than you were a moment ago. Full flyer.
Ok, there are more flyers we could get into, but I’ll leave this long post with another dragon related one – Capcom’s Black Tiger. The interesting thing about this one is how they gave the back as much artistic attention as the front. This is also where it’s nice :
Which arcade flyers do you enjoy looking at?
“Double Dragon II” has the best artwork. I’m no Beat ’em up fan, but this flyer is my clear number one.