Occasionally a piece of concept art for a treasured icon of gaming pops up and we all gawp and have a laugh at how off-model the initial sketches looked before the character was established. Even official takes on characters can be vastly different from the versions we know and love today (we all remember the legendarily hilarious US Mega Man box art, after all).

@TanookiKuribo has posted on Twitter the discovery of an auction currently live on ebay featuring some rare promo art related to the 'Super Mario Bros. Power Hour', an animated show that never went into production. It seems that the estate of a former employee of DIC (the animation company behind classics such as Inspector Gadget and the Sonic cartoons) has come across four concept images of games that might have featured on the show:


As you can see, Double Dragon, California Games, Castlevania and Metroid would have been part of the (presumably hour-long) show, although the promo art shows a somewhat different interpretation of the sources than we're used to seeing all these years later. To be fair, Double Dragon's not too bad, and the California Games image expands on the original box art in a cartoon-y fashion. The other two properties, however, have gone through some changes. Let's look at the Castlevania one first:


Well, it's got the Universal monsters in there, although they've certainly been given a makeover for the kids. And speaking of kids, we assume the terrified children represent characters from the show rather than a hip '90s makeover of the Belmonts. The current Netflix show is certainly a more adult take on the source.

Moving on, the Metroid image makes a more significant change to canon:


Yes, it appears Samus has lost her golden locks in this iteration. It seems that the artist never made it to the end of the game - at least not in five hours or under - and went for a different interpretation to the one we're all accustomed to. If you fancy putting in a bid, there's another five days on the auction, although you'll need deep pockets should you want to bag these 8x10s. The description also states that there's more 'rare Nintendo DIC items' to come, so you might want to keep an eye on the seller.

Of course, off-model versions of fan-favourite characters are still easy enough to find these days - you've all seen the Sonic movie trailer, right?

Ah, we remember having a good old chuckle whenever that company logo came up at the end of our favourite 'toons... So, what's your favourite 'off-model' portrayal of a favourite video game character? Let us know with a comment in the usual place.

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[source twitter.com, via ebay.co.uk]