Gamma World's 3rd Edition: A sad reminder of what should have been

Gamma World Jeff Easley Keith Parkinson Larry Elmore TSR

In 1986 TSR came out with the 3rd Edition of Gamma World as they tried to drive sales of their new ACT [Action Table] combat system.   The effect, while dramatic in the box itself, falls incredibly flat when compared to say, The Red Box that helped revolutionize gaming just three years before.

I have to wonder what happened during this period, as I can only assume TSR was at its absolute height here, and yet both this product, and Marvel Super Heroes, don’t really add anything artistically to the genre other than rehashing Marvel’s artwork or in the case of Gamma World neglecting art all together. 

Also considering that you had Parkinson, Easley, Elmore, and Caldwell at the very pinnacle of their fantasy prowess, I’m astounded we didn’t see more effort put into the creation of this boxed set.

Sure, Parkinson’s cover is enough to sell the game, and certainly it did, as I’m still incredibly moved by it even today, but once you get past all that flash there is very little artistic substance.  Unbelievably, I have included every single piece of b/w illustration from the three booklets, over 90+ pages of text, that wasn’t considered part of the illustrated bestiary.  The grand total?  Three!  Three illustrations, and one of them was so poorly rendered that they even trimmed off the sides of the alien’s hoverchair for some reason, and that bit of editing was also done poorly.

On the whole, this is a sad, sad game considering what TSR had to work with, and I’m wholly embarrassed by the entire affair.

Artistic Rating: 2 [out of 5]

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