The walls of this 10×10 chamber are adorned with…

When my wife and I finally made the choice to became real Americans (i.e. go tens of thousands of dollars into debt to buy a house), one of my requirements was that said house have some sort of subterranean chamber which I could convert into a basement game room. One year later, my game lair is finally ready.

Of course, no game room is complete without cheesy posters adorning the walls. No longer being 13, I can’t get away with supermodel pinups or Megadeth posters. But this is a perfect excuse to dig out those vintage game posters I’ve been hauling with me around the country for the last two decades. After a few trips to Hobby Lobby to pick up some cheap poster frames, here’s what’s hanging on the walls of my game room. (I apologize for the flash glare in some of these… if my game room had adequate lighting, it would not be authentic.)

First up is a pair of (unfortunately fairly weathered) Battletech Mech schematics, bought way back in the early days of FASA:

Battlemaster

The 85-ton BLG-1G Battlemaster. Awww yeah.

Warhammer

The infamous Warhammer, complete with two PPCs and a cheesecake illustration of Natasha 'Black Widow' Kerensky in the bottom right (for scale purposes, of course).

On the opposite wall, découpaged to an oh-so-classy piece of wood, is the map that came with one of my favorite Infocom games, Beyond Zork:

Quendor map

I love this map, although I could do without the dozen compass roses pasted across it.

And now back to Battletech. The only Commodore 64 game I played as much as Wasteland was Battletech: The Crescent Hawk’s Inception. It was my introduction to Battletech, and ever since, the poster that came with it remains the iconic Battletech image in my mind:

Crescent Hawk

A tiny Locust mech faces off against... what is that, a Marauder? That's not very fair, but it looks awesome.

Moving along, we have (surprise) another Infocom poster, this one of one of their least-known games: Quarterstaff: The Tomb of Setmoth. It was a quirky RPG/text-adventure hybrid (and only available on the Mac, strangely); but I really enjoyed it back in high school.

Quarterstaff

Am I the only person who played and enjoyed this game?

No game collection in the late 80s/early 90s was complete without at least one SSI Gold Box AD&D game. Here was mine:

Champions of Krynn

Champions of Krynn, one of many SSI Gold Box classics.

The next item is a change of pace: a poster that came with one of my favorite NES games, Dragon Warrior. This game was surpassed not long after its release by Final Fantasy I, but was a great deal of fun. And it has one of the most annoying/awesome catchy soundtracks of any NES-era game.

Dragon Warrior

One of the first great JRPGs on the NES.

And last but not least, I devoted most of an entire wall to one of the most iconic locations in D&D: Undermountain, the megadungeon. I framed three of the four maps that came in the 2e Undermountain boxed set:

Undermountain maps

There are a LOT of places to die in Undermountain.

So that’s what’s hanging on the walls of my basement game lair. I like to think of it as inspirational artwork. And believe it or not, there’s a stack of maps and posters that I’ll have to put back in storage because there wasn’t room to frame them too….

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9 Comments

  1. Raymond says:

    Wow, I remember playing Inception, Quarterstaff, and Beyond Zork with you. And that was middle school, not high school!

    I have the high-quality canvas poster of Aribeth that came with the NWN collector’s edition…unfortunately, it’s too close to the “supermodel pinup” category for me to safely display it. Same with the Jade Empire poster; I really like the game and the art style, but it shows a little too much skin. I do have the Zelda: Phantom Hourglass poster up on the wall.

    I’ve taken to collecting game guides rather than posters — I find a quick flip through a game guide (only to be read AFTER the game is beaten) gives me those warm, fuzzy gaming memories. I have four of ’em in hardcover — two Zeldas, Bioshock 2, and Dragon Age — and with collector’s editions reaching the $100 pricepoint now, I find it’s better to get the regular game plus a hardcover guide.

  2. gnome says:

    Well, Megadeth might feel insulted, but this is an absolutely beautiful game-room. Hope you really enjoy it.

  3. Andy says:

    Haha, thanks Gnome! And Megadeth, if you’re reading this, please don’t kill me. I was just kidding, I swear!

  4. Andy says:

    Wow, you’re right–that was junior high, not high school. Thanks for the reminder of how old I am, Raymond! 🙂

    Collecting game guides is an interesting idea. Especially now that they are releasing the guides in studier, hardcover formats.

    Most of those posters, btw, came in the “normal” versions of the games (I don’t think there was much in the way of “collector’s editions” back in the day). For some reason, it was just common for a few years to put game posters in the box with the game. Digging through my old game boxes to get these posters out, I had a good time looking through all the “extras” that got tucked into games in the 80s. The Infocom games are best known for that, but you sometimes found interesting goodies packaged with other games as well.

  5. Jon says:

    Those are some sweet posters. Your game room sounds really cool!

    I do remember Quarterstaff. That was from a period when Infocom seemed to be looking for a new direction. In 1988-1989 they released (among other things) Quarterstaff, Journey, Zork Zero, Shogun, Mines of Titan, Infocomics and BattleTech. I guess even that diverse a line-up wasn’t enough to keep them afloat.

  6. Andy says:

    Thanks, Jon! Glad somebody else remembers Quarterstaff. Yeah, it was one of those odd graphic/text hybrid games that Infocom put out in their final days. Did you ever play any of those other ones?

    As noted, I played Quarterstaff and Battletech, and I really enjoyed Zork Zero. I think I played a bit of Shogun but not much. You?

    Thinking about those final Infocom games does make one wonder what Infocom could have done to survive. Clearly just adding graphics to their text games didn’t save them. I do think that they were on to some flawed but potentially interesting gameplay mechanics with a few of them (Beyond Zork and Quarterstaff’s RPG elements, for instance), but it seems to me that their heart was in the pure text adventure stories, and that outside of that medium they were going to struggle to keep up, at best.

  7. jeffro says:

    I played Crescent Hawks. I remember doing stuff in a city with my… was it a Stinger? Other 20 ton mechs would come fight me randomly. I got to the edge of town and then wander the woods aimlessly…. I was hoping I could go to the next stage of the story, but never figured it out.

    I really like the old pre-Clan pre-lawsuit FASA mechs. Those are beautiful schematics, but I could never quite figure out where the ammo feed to the huge SRM would go…. 😛

    Your Undermountain maps remind me of the Waterdeep mega-map that I had on my wall when I was in high school.

  8. jeffro says:

    Infocom was brought down by the database side of the company. The product was funded by the interactive fiction, but it tanked badly.

    Activision purchased the company during the fallout and was not particularly understanding up the genre of computer software Infocom specialized in. They languished for a while… using the Infocom name as just a label… and then turned out the lights.

  9. pcg says:

    I can’t pull anywhere near the memories as anyone else on the thread. But I wanted to pop in all the same, if only to say that you’ve done a beautiful thing here, my man. 😀

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