I’m a recovering video game junkie. It started with an Atari 2600 that my father bought when it was released, and it’s all been downhill since then. In my 20’s, I was a hardcore gamer and game collector. I did 10 years of attending the Electronics Entertainment Expo out in Los Angeles (when I started going, it was still held in Atlanta!). Throughout all the games I’ve played and bought and collected and obsessed over, I’ve always been a big fan of importing Street Fighter 2D fighting games.
But more than that is my obsession with import video game arcade posters.
During the years that the Sega Saturn and Sega Dreamcast were actively on the market, I used to import all my consoles and games from Japan. Usually because you could get them there first; sometimes months before the United States. Sometimes some of those games never saw the light of day here in the States, like X-Men vs Street Fighter for the Sega Saturn. One of the big reasons I imported was also because of the game artwork. The US released titles usually had terrible, watered-down artwork for their games. The original Japanese releases, however, would use really colorful, beautiful illustrations for their covers and booklet content. They were really really beautiful.
Take this cover for the Japanese release of Marvel Super Heroes vs Street Fighter:
Look at that artwork – so bright and colorful and expressive. There is a ton going on in this image, and the composition just works flawlessly to me. I love this illustration. It’s probably one of my all time favorite pieces of artwork. Ever. EVER. So much so, that while I was buying and importing games from Japan to play on Japanese gaming systems, I was also seeking out arcade posters from Japan for the games I loved.
It started with these three that I got around 1995:
(Left to Right: Street Fighter Zero 3, Street Fighter EX2, Star Gladiator 2)
I had found these on a Usenet (remember those??) gaming group. These were posters that would hang in Japanese arcades promoting the new games. I was working for Electronics Botique in the Mall at the time, and I brought these three to a framer in the mall to have them framed. Over time, I started picking up other posters and keeping them rolled up and safe knowing that someday I’d love to have them hanging in a room somewhere.
(L to R: X-Men vs Street Fighter US promo poster, Legion of Heroes [aka Rival Schools: United by Fate], Marvel Super Heroes vs Street Fighter)
(L to R: Street Fighter EX 2 Plus, Capcom vs SNK Millenium Fight 2000, Marvel Super Heroes vs Street Fighter [alternate])
You’ll notice there are two Marvel Super Heroes vs Street Fighter posters shown – that’s how much I love that artwork. I sought out two variant posters for that game (one a large 40″x29″, and a smaller sized one).
I recently had the rest of these posters mounted to foam core, so that when I do end up with a house or a studio, I can frame these and display them.
I love this stuff. I love looking at it. It’s a swirl of color and composition and illustration and it also is a memory trigger letting me think about the first time I played certain games, or how obsessive I was with X-Men vs Street Fighter.
Celebrate the stuff you love – even if it’s physical stuff; posters or toys or games or cards or hats or clothes. Keep loving the stuff that makes you you.