Ahead of the game
Console kid An old-school game artist explains why his work is enjoying a resurgence in popularity
Michael Winterbauer created covers for a string of cultclassic games, and now his art is finding a new audience among gaming aficionados.
The illustrator created artwork for video games such as Gameboy’s Ninja Taro, Sega favourite Wolfchild and Wing Commander for the Super Nintendo. Over the past couple of years, he’s sold almost 50 pieces to collectors around the world.
The reason the old artwork inspires such feelings of nostalgia, Michael says, comes down to the production process: “They were created with real brushes and real paint on a real illustration board.”
The work has a lo-fi quality, harking back to a simpler time in both aesthetic and gameplay. While techniques have changed, Michael says the covers aren’t all that different to modern counterparts.
“They are very similar in theme and concept,” the artist says. “The difference is the new game art has a super-slick CG feel, while the early game art has a more classic, traditional style.”
To see more of Michael’s artwork, old and new, visit
Cult classic video games such as Wing Commander benefitted from Michael’s brush.
Michael created the artwork for 1991 actionadventure game Ninja Taro on the Gameboy.