Near Death Experiences #03 in pixels – Video Game T-shirt Designs
The more I write, the more I recall times past. It wasn’t even a year ago that I met the owners of RIPT Apparel at a company reunion in downtown Chicago. It was there that I greeted them at the door, only to sorrowfully bow my head. They took one look at me and said “There’s our man!” The transformation to tee shirt grave digger was remarkable. My story though, is far less remarkable than the escapee shirt designs you’ll find below. These designs each feature a common theme: inspired by video games.
My upbringing was from a bygone era of candles and feather ink pens so as you can guess, my knowledge of these arcane devices is minimal. I shall try my best to ignite your interest while deciphering these tees-that-never-were. And so on…
#1 “Stings Like A Bee” by BiggStankDogg - portfolio
How do you like your historical references? I prefer mine with a big of iconic imagery, a fancy quote, and ridiculous pairings with Street Figther II. The infamous Muhammad Ali quote and photograph was masterfully rendered in 16 bit grayscale courtesy of artist BiggStankDogg. The typographic treatment of the quote and deliberate over-sized anti-aliased letterforms made this a wonderful parody of the caliber of many a RIPT print. It’s hard to say why this design never rose to the top, most likely that historical buffs that may be attached to the legacy of The Greatest wouldn’t understand how significant a real life win over Ryu actually would be. Goodnight, sweet prince.
#2 “Punch Drunk Cola” by Tony Avina - portfolio
Wait a second, do I sense a theme here? Boxing? Video Games? Nothing of the sort is going on. This design is more of a Russian cola advertisement than a boxing tee. Fans of “Punch Out!!” might recall the great Soda Popinski as a notorious foe. Playing on his name and shaping the character’s head like a bottle proved quite humorous, but the Russian Constructivist forms surrounding the illustration left a little to be desired. Also, who out there ever really played all the way through the game to face Mike Tyson (or Super Macho Man)?? Most likely there was a kid in your neighborhood that subscribed to Nintendo Power (RIP!!) and spread the code to face Tyson, completely circumventing poor old Popinski and dooming him to RIPT obscurity.
#3 “Treasure Hunters” by Punksthetic – portfolio
When it comes to platform games, usually the big ones come to mind first: Mario Brothers, Sonic the Hedgehog, Metroid… Then there are the 2nd and 3rd tier games like Earthworm Jim, Donkey Kong Country, Bonk… but deep in the depths of obscurity can gems sometimes shine. That was the case for this crest-style design, featuring “Banjo Kazooie.” The colors and the artwork are stupendous and any B&K fan that RIPT may have been able to yank out of the internet would instantly recognize this imagery. The sad truth is that this property just does not have a hold on the RIPT fanbase as it currently stands. Also, there isn’t anything along the lines of parody being suggested here and it instead serves as a nice piece of fan-art for this title.
Adho1982 had some success with a previous “Service and Repair Manual” design featuring a doctor’s blue time machine, and he has been executing appropriately similar designs ever since. This new take on that style features an instantly recognizable classic spacecraft, the Arwing from “Star Fox.” Just how do our heroes in all our sci-fi stories learn to operate their incredibly complex future war machines? It’s hard to believe that the very dry service manual will exist eons in the future, but if by then we are all upright walking and talking forest animals, who knows what else to expect? I would skip straight to the chapter on “barrel rolling.”
If you are like some of the RIPT staff, then you remember being shocked to see advertisements on major television channels for “Final Fantasy VII”, featuring the ‘lush and incredible’ (for the time) cut scene CG. Although that is hardly what the real game’s graphics looked like, the jump from the SNES’s “Final Fantasy III” (ok “Final Fantasy VI”, lay off me, Japaniphiles) to the seventh incarnation of the series was simply light years ahead for any avid Final Fantasy fan in the USA. Knowing that, this 8-bit take on a touching scene from FFVII is all the more appealing. Aerith takes a cue from Super Mario’s Princess Peach in this excellent use of pixel dithering from artist barefists. Use the flower Aerith, USE THE FLOWER!
#6 “Clever Shell” by Melee_Ninja - portfolio
There is quite a bit happening in this design featuring a ferocious Yoshi-esque dinosaur. I can’t tell you how many times I hear the RIPTsters here at work mentioning a design has the title “Clever Girl” from “Jurassic Park”. When I saw this design and the title, I thought that someone finally broke the habit and found the right use of that classic movie line. The blue shell is always an object of scorn to fans of “Mario Kart,” and this Ed Roth styled version just never beat out other similarly-themed designs. It’s always kind of funny to see a more realistic take on the ridiculousness that is Yoshi.
#7 “Excite Mongoose” by Dann Matthews – portfolio
Has anyone ever successfully completed more than one level of the original “Excitebike?” No one in this office has, but “Halo 4″ came onto the scene with a bang last year. One of the most tricky achievements from “Halo 3″ tended to be the Mongoose mow down achievement requiring one to splatter kill an opponent while driving a Mongoose vehicle in multi-player. Imagine a player’s excitement when that achievement is finally reached!! The loss of army shirts at RIPT most likely spelled doom for this design, or possibly lackluster sales of similar designs. Rats.
#8 “Pyschic Detectives!” by girardin27 – portfolio
There have been plenty of start screen parody designs printed at RIPT over the years, and even a few Super Mario Bros. ones from the NES. This is the first one we’ve seen mashing the show “Psyche” and the plumber brothers, though. The colors seemed nice but unfortunately no one here has seen the show! Blaphemy, we know. The pixels around the palm trees seemed a little rushed and without any backing from the Possibili-Tees on Facebook, we had to pardon this design of its crimes, renewing its freedom. Live on young detectives, live on.
Rosie the Riveter has been parodied a million billion jillion times by now, but we still love her. Even Samus decided to join the fun in artist Metrokard’s anime-esque take on the classic poster. The use of halftones for shadows makes this design simply delicious to take in with your eyes. The problem was that the RIPT staff felt it looked a little bit too generic to really be Samus, and they are always weary of using white as a shirt color. That’s not to say that designs for white shirts never get printed, just that it wasn’t going to work this time. As with almost all the declined designs at RIPT, once a design isn’t picked, it often has trouble keeping up week after week, until finally, it gets tired and is left behind in the dust. Sorry young Samus, but this time you didn’t do it!
#10 “Super Mario Jason” by horror bid – portfolio
Super Mario Bros. 2 is often overlooked, much like the black sheep of the Mario Bros. family, or was that Luigi? You know who else was overlooked while trying to make a name for himself? Jason Voorhees, that’s who. Not only is his one of the most difficult NES games ever made, he needed more. Jason chopped up Mario and took his spot on SMB2′s start screen. The other cast members of the game seem awfully calm about their new partner. Humorous, yes this design certainly was that. However on the artistry side of the scale, this simple cut & paste maneuver just wasn’t going to get past the RIPT censors. The concept still had merit enough to be displayed here and so we pray that Shy Guy never had to meet his 8 foot tall brother in arms.