|Thanatos, Official Advertising, 1985|
Thanatos from Durell is in some way the precursor of the more structured and complicated DragonStrike from SSI. Both games can be positioned in the Dragon Flight Simulators category even if Thanatos is much more arcade oriented and simpler than the SSI's one. The difference between the two games is massive though: while the Durell's game is basically a 2D arcade with some rudimental parallax scrolling, DragonStrike (1991) is a 3d based proper flight simulator. However I found interesting the attempt to create a first basic simulator where you could actually command a dragon and its powers, while usually in many video games we used to chase and (perhaps) kill them.
The advertising published by Durell, even if artistically not completely pleasant, looks quite striking. The ad was probably designed to catch the attention of that range of people attracted by any Fantasy or RPG context. The message itself is quite simple: Thanatos (1) the Dragon has to rescue Eros the Sorceress, who is the woman with the white vest depicted on the ad above. Kill, breath, claw and destroy whatever is trying to stop you and this is exactly what you could expect from a dragon simulation and Thanatos does exactly what it says on the tin.
Again, the ad is artistically not impeccable but is the perfect case of a visual boost for a decent graphic looking game. Illustrations, back in the day, were the main way to deliver a more powerful visual message since the game graphics were usually not really inspiring.
Artworks were the imaginative support for what was in essence still too primordial. If we think that videogames now come in the 90% of the cases in standard boxes with uninspiring manuals is probably because they don't need any more inspirational support. In the past we were firstly attracted by very strong visual expectations, very often deluded by basic and bland graphics. In the TV and press advertising, contemporary games use their actual graphics creating a probably more honest relationship with the consumer. We can't forget anyway that during the eighties, we were considered mainly gamers and not really consumers and that's why we probably accepted the compromise of what was a more restricted ritual for few.
|Thanatos, Commodore Screenshot|
(1) From the Greek Θάνατος, Death