In reading about other folks’ Gamma World (and Mutant Future) games on blogs and forums these days it’s interesting to note the divergent aesthetic approaches to the game. The aesthetic represented in the official published material is pretty dark, gritty, and Mad Max-like. This approach seemed to become stronger over time through the various editions (at least the ones I have seen, I lost track around edition 4 or 5). More evident in the earlier editions, and in the current retro gaming world, is gonzo zaniness reminiscent of Thundaar the Barbarian and Dave Trampier’s first edition illustrations. I love Thundaar, so of course I'm biased towards this latter vision.
My personal favorite approach to Gamma World, however, is best illustrated by Erol Otus’ illustrations in the first edition supplements. Beautiful technicolor weirdness more along the lines of early Heavy Metal and Epic Illustrated magazines than Saturday Morning cartoons.
In particular, look closely at Otus’ colorful ref screen illustration. The sky is clear and blue – not a dark and gritty scene at all. Green tress, mountains, dragons, mushrooms. I like the punked out warrior babe with the Dead Kennedys amulet and the crazy techno-wand - I want to be her friend. The mutants are really weird and fantastic. Soooooooo awesome! I’ll take Otustown over Bartertown any day!
(CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE)