When it comes to game related artwork, one of my favorite categories is concept art—and just writing this, I finally realize the reason I own several game artbooks. I just love looking at the different design ideas for each character, enemy designs, color palettes, sceneries, etc. It always feels like I’m diving into the mind of the artists and seeing what they’re seeing when the graphics get rendered on screen.
This to me is particularly interesting when it comes to 8-bit (and 16-bit) games, given the visual gap between concepts and sprites, and even more so when it comes to beloved existing characters. Now it feels like the roles are slightly reversed. The concept that once was used to inform how we look at the game is now being informed by our knowledge of the game itself. Okay, before I lose you in these mental gymnastics, take a look at this DuckTales example:
If you just look at it outside of the context of the game, it could be a still from the cartoon or a panel from the comics, right? The thing is: I can’t recall ever seeing or hearing about Uncle Scrooge using his signature pogo jump moves outside the game. To be fair, I haven’t seen everything DuckTales, but even after some time on Google, I was unable to find evidence of the pogo jump’s appearance anywhere else.
So now we dig back through 90s gaming memories, apply those to the art pieces here, and it all starts to make a little more sense: the cartoons and comics inspired the game, which then inspired the artwork here. It’s quite an interesting take on game concept art, and one I’m very glad exists. The gallery mode in The Disney Afternoon Collection features lots more of these, so if you want to see more, you know where to find them. In the meantime, here’s another great example from Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers: