In this modern age of streaming and digital downloads, video game cover art has become a dying art. Back in the day, the cover art was what caught your eye on store shelves and enticed you to purchase or rent it. That’s true to an extent with digital icons, but there’s no real impact or craft anymore. Yet Final Fantasy still manages to craft beautiful box cover art that entices players to pick them up, so let’s look at some of the best ones! For this list, we’re going to keep it to mainline Final Fantasy games, not spinoffs, but all versions of these games from across regions have been considered for inclusion.
The 5 Best Box Cover Art in the Final Fantasy Franchise
Final Fantasy (PSP)
The original Final Fantasy has been remade and ported so many times it’s hard to keep track of it, and almost every version has had different cover art. From the original NES game’s medieval fantasy-inspired cover to the simplicity of the Dawn of Souls GBA release, there’s no shortage of options to choose from. But the PSP version of Final Fantasy, released for the series’s 20th anniversary, takes the cake for best cover art.
The cover features a simplified version of series artist Yoshitaka Amano’s line art of the Warrior of Light, albeit drawn entirely in blue. The drawing contrasts with the black background, something that most other entries in the series tend to avoid. The games that aim for simple covers usually use white or off-white backgrounds. Sometimes it works, like with the European PS1 games that just feature the logo and nothing else, and other times they fail, like with every version of Final Fantasy XIII.
But the black is stark. It draws your attention. It emphasizes the elegance of Amano’s art. The same can be said for the cover art of Final Fantasy II’s PSP release, but I give the nod to the original game because I don’t want to be caught dead giving any praise to Final Fantasy II.
Final Fantasy VI (Super Famicom)
The cover art for Final Fantasy VI in the US on SNES, when it was known as Final Fantasy III, is garbage. It’s just the logo, a weirdly drawn moogle, and a purple splotch. That’s it. Future releases of Final Fantasy VI would rectify this by giving us classic Yoshitaka Amano artwork, but it just makes you wonder why they didn’t decide to go with the original Super Famicom artwork from Japan.
Amano’s linework is impeccable here. The detailed and intricate overview of Narshe dominates most of the screen, but our eyes are drawn to Terra on the opposite side of the art. Why? Because she’s the only one with color. Her red outfit stands out against the gray and dull Magitek Armor and the white background. It makes you wonder aloud questions like: Who is this woman? What is she doing with this giant suit of armor? Why is she looking over this city? Why does she seem so cold and emotionless? And once you pop in the cartridge, your questions are answered immediately as you get thrown right into that snowy field alongside Terra. Simply perfect.
Final Fantasy VII (PS1/PS4)
Final Fantasy VII is iconic. From the characters to the plot, it’s regarded as one of the best games of all time, and it has some of the best cover art of all time too, Final Fantasy or not. It’s so good that Final Fantasy VII Remake on PlayStation 4 just decided to keep its box art the exact same but use the new models for it.
The cover art has protagonist Cloud standing with his back to us, hand on his Buster Sword, staring up at the headquarters of Shinra, the evil corporation that dominates the world of Final Fantasy VII. It instantly teases what Shinra is, this gigantic force that towers over all. And for the majority of your time in Midgar, Shinra comprises your main antagonists. As a result, this iconic art frankly fits even better for Final Fantasy VII Remake since that game focuses exclusively on the Midgar section. Just masterful cover art, really.
Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age (PS4, Japan)
Final Fantasy XII is a game that is all over the place in terms of plot and focus, which befits its cover art also being all over the place. Most cover art for the game is good but features a few issues that leave me wanting more. The standard PlayStation 2 cover art feels chaotic with different faces all thrown across the cover with no real rhyme or reason. The game’s logo, which was used for the majority of the releases of the refined Zodiac Age, is okay but focuses on a character (Gabranth) that isn’t the main focus of the game, unlike other logos. I can nitpick all of them in some way, but the Japanese cover art for The Zodiac Age stands above the rest.
The cover art includes all of the major characters from the game, both heroes and villains. They’re painted in an art style that matches the colors of the world of Ivalice and even hints at some of the elements of the plot. We see our antagonists draped in red, yet Larsa is not facing the same direction as them but beginning to look toward the sides of our heroes. Then there’s the duality between Gabranth and Basch and the relationships their characters share. Plus, it’s just a gorgeous paint job. I love cover art that informs how the plot is going to go, but when it shows off character dynamics, it’s even better.
Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers (PS4)
I know that Final Fantasy XIV is beloved around the world. I know it had a rocky start and has improved tremendously over the decade it has been out. I know that it can claim to be the best MMO on the market right now. I just haven’t played it yet. Regardless, it doesn’t change the fact that I love the cover art for the Shadowbringers expansion.
Whoever the Warrior of Darkness is in the world of Final Fantasy XIV, seeing them stand on a twilight battlefield with their pitch-black armor adorned and staring at the player is just simply cool. The darkness emanates from them, their weapon is drawn, and they seem to be looking toward us asking if we’ll be joining them on their adventure. It’s inviting but also somewhat of a challenge. Will you brave this world with this untraditional hero? Are they even a hero? I don’t know, man — this cover art just makes looking cool seem so effortless. I may never play the game, but I can at least admire how much I want to.
These are our picks for the best box cover art in Final Fantasy! Let us know what your picks are.