We’ve talked about box art before, but that was good box art. Today, in honor of the new show Judging by the Cover launching next week from Yahtzee Croshaw, we’re going to look at bad box art. Specifically, bad box art on otherwise great games. They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, and in the case of these eight games, they are absolutely correct.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent (PC)
Originally released as a download-only title, Amnesia: The Dark Descent ended up getting a retail release in 2011. Unfortunately, the only thing more terrifying than the game itself was the box art THQ decided to use. While it does capture the “monster will totally sneak up behind you” vibe of the game, I can confidently state that nothing you see in the game will look as strange as that demented duck-looking thing on the cover there.
The Orange Box (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
If there’s a better compilation of great games that has come out since 2007 than The Orange Box, I’m not sure what it would be. Half-Life 2, Team Fortress 2, and Portal all in one box is a tough combination to top. Unfortunately, all of that awesome was locked away behind one of the most boring boxes you’ll find. A giant orange box featuring portraits of Gordon Freeman, the Heavy, and the Portal logo is no way to communicate to anyone not already familiar with the games what they’re about, or how great they are.
Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow Konami’s Best Edition (Nintendo DS)
There are plenty of occasions when a game’s box art gets redone, or at least refined, for a “Greatest Hits” or “Game of the Year” edition. For Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, no one could be bothered. Instead of just adding the “Konami’s Best” logo to the box art, they decided to use a picture of the original box inside the branding. It’s box art-ception, and it looks just as ridiculous as you’d expect.
Batman: Arkham City GOTY Edition (PS3, Xbox 360)
I’m not opposed to the inevitable “Game of the Year” edition that just about every big AAA release gets. In fact, I support them. They’re a great way for gamers to hold out for a game, and then get all the add-on content along with the game at a reasonable price. But the GOTY edition of Batman: Arkham City featured a completely garish cover, spoiling the spare aesthetic that had featured so prominently in the game’s advertising so far. Giant red “10/10” and other pull quotes overwhelmed the cover, going so far as to make the title of the game a mere afterthought.
Okami (Nintendo Wii)
Okami’s Wii box art is actually quite attractive, which isn’t a surprise for a game with such an awesome art style. Unfortunately, it’s marred by a tiny defect. Just to the right of the open mouth of the wolf is the logo of gaming site IGN. Apparently someone was working on the cover, and they had to get the art assets from somewhere, right?
Planescape: Torment (PC)
Despite the praise that I regularly offer Planescape: Torment, I can’t deny that the box art left a lot to be desired. The color palette they used is awful, and the cover conveys nothing at all about the game itself. It’s nothing more than a big blue guy’s head in front of a retina-melting orange backdrop. Luckily, the game was so good, we forgot about how bad the cover looked.
Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain (PC)
I loved Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, but the PC version had one of the strangest covers I’ve ever seen. Rather than simply use the same box art as the PlayStation version, Crystal Dynamics elected to have a second box art created. It featured one of the strangest looking renditions of Kain I’ve ever seen, looking more like a cut-rate action figure than anything else.
Mega Man (NES)
I feel like pretty much everyone agrees that the original Mega Man box art is just a mess. First off, Mega Man himself looks like he’s about 50 years old. Next, his outfit is terrible, and appears to have puffy sleeves, and worst of all, he’s carrying a pistol. [strong]A PISTOL.[/em] As if that’s not bad enough, I don’t know what’s going on in the background there. There’s a castle, some explosions, and um…palm trees? Maybe I skipped that level.