WC1 Cover Appreciation Post (August 6, 2023)

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
Is there anything more thrilling than the Wing Commander I box art? Despite the claim that “what you see is what you play,” it’s not a screenshot but a digital piece carefully composed by the incomparable Denis Loubet.

Back in the '80s, games would commission stunning traditional artwork for their boxes. The biggest purpose was to attract eyes in stores but they also served as a kind of ‘primer’ in an era of simple graphics. That green-and-black smudge you battle is actually a cool dragon!

Of course consumers are fickle and tastes change. By the end of the '80s games were more complex and their art had a much more distinctive style. Origin needed a new way to stand out. And their first answer was… male models.

Luckily, that experiment ended before Wing Commander! It looked so impressive that they felt showing the game itself was the way to go. So Mr. Loubet had to use the graphics that were ready to get across the experience of playing something that didn’t exist yet!

So I thought it would be fun to have a post of all the later art derived from that original box! Hit your afterburners, it’s time to push things to 2400 KPS…

I bet you know this first one! This stunning image is the box cover for the 1992 SNES port (in the US and Europe). It’s a traditional painting by Mike Winterbauer, who is still making cool art today!

The first two novel covers are both inspired by the original box. They are both paintings by prolific science fiction artist Paul Alexander (who sadly passed in 2021). The second also heavily references Wing Commander II!

The Japanese release of the SNES (SFC) port had a totally different painting with the same inspiration! I do not know who the artist is but they are clearly closely referencing the line drawings from Claw Marks for the ships.

And here’s one you might not know. This pen and ink take on the original art shows up on a special release of the Amiga CD32 that comes with WC as a pack in game!

The later games got Star Wars inspired paintings focused on their casts… but Wing Commander Academy, the 1993 mission builder, chose to reference WC1. This is digital… making it even more surprising that those ships don’t appear in the game!

Super Wing Commander, the 1994 3DO port, got a digital piece redoing the original with the game’s updated 3D art.

Both of the album covers for The Farman’s Wing Commander releases are funny versions of the original box art!

That’s all the official covers I can think of, but here’s an unofficial take: the cover of a totally rad multi game guide by Mark Minasi.

We did a homage when I worked on Star Citizen, too! It was to celebrate the release of ‘Arena Commander’, a game in a game.

It's also worth noting that the same first person cockpit artwork shows up all over the place. Here’s two unrelated things that are also called Wing Commander that use it!

Original update published on August 6, 2023
Absolutely ! it's my best Big Box PC game, great contents and with having the ship schematic Blueprints. I think it's just a great idea at the time....