In our age of Steam sales and digital purchases, video game covers are quickly becoming a lost art. Which is a shame, because box art could be insanely hilarious and more entertaining than the games themselves. Here are seven classic gaming covers that prove industry artists might be a little nuts.
Can you think of any we missed? Share them in the comments!
We take for granted that classic video game protagonists are best represented as cartoon characters. For whatever reason, the Atari release of Donkey Kong took a more “realistic” approach – rendering Mario as a muscle-bound athlete and Donkey as a horrific, snarling beast. It’s hilarious in retrospect, but just goes to show Mario and realism doesn’t mix. If only someone had told the Super Mario Bros film production eleven years later.
Mega Man has a long history of absolutely bizarre covers, but the original NES Pal edition might take the cake. This wonderful box art manages to combine an authentic representation of Mega Man‘s characters with a sci-fi fantasy movie poster with slight heavy metal undertones. Apparently we never have to worry about a gritty Mega Man reboot, because somebody already made it while listening to a fantastic 1980s soundtrack.
How does someone make golf more dynamic and exciting? Try Ninja Golf, and actual game premise from 1990. This was a combination of sports and side-scrolling beat-em-up genres. Players hit their balls towards the green, but had to fight their way through enemies before reaching the ball and taking the next swing.
Dear game industry – Please reboot this series immediately.
Before Crackdown was an open-world game about a superpowered police force, there was Crack Down. Going by this cover, I assume it was about Contra extras who team up with a Stormtooper, an ape, and a dog to take down the pagan deity who inspired Satan. Will I play Crack Down to verify this? Probably not. Will I assume Crack Down and Crackdown are in the same universe as part of my personal head canon? Absolutely.
The Bust-a-Move might be one of the most fondly-remembered classic puzzle games, but apparently that wasn’t enough for Bust-A-Move 2‘s North American publishers – who apparently decided it should look like a horror game. This cover looks like the bubbles have trapped the souls of fallen players and forced them to stay awake in Clockwork Orange-esque torture sequences. You will never find this sequence in the game, and if you did, you’d probably regret the experience.
Night Trap is already an infamous classic for its FMV gameplay and cheesy B-movie style. Yet somehow, the Sega CD box art is even more ridiculous. No, not because of the silly-looking vampiric Augurs in the background. It’s because in the foreground is a character who isn’t scared or facing them bravely, but explaining to customers why she’s so disappointed in the entire experience.
When Phalanx was being released in 1992, its North American publishers had a problem. Phalanx was a space shooter in a market dominated with space shooters, and there was no way to make it stand out. Reportedly, the box art designers solution was to throw an old man with a fedora and banjo in the foreground, confusing the hell out of everyone.
If Phalanx is ever rebooted, maybe it should just run with this cover and pretend to be in a Firefly-style country-verse. I’d probably play it!