By: Steve MacDougall, contributor
Box art is from the U.S. release unless otherwise noted.
#5 – Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (Japanese version) – PlayStation 3
One of the things we Uncharted fans like to debate among ourselves is which region got the better Uncharted 2 cover. The US and Pal cover that most of us are familiar with–but here it is in case you aren’t–isn’t bad. Drake looks a little too videogame-y for my tastes, but it’s a dramatic scene from the game. The Japanese box art, however, is clearly going for an old-time movie poster look, sort of evoking memories of Indiana Jones. Everything about this cover is awesome..except what the hell is going on with Drake’s face? I get that he’s supposed to be roguishly charming, but his face here is just smug, and looks, well, off somehow–and not particularly well-drawn, either. But I guess if they gave him an appropriate face, we would be deprived of the fun of debating which region’s box art is best.
#4 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – NES
I know what you’re thinking: “What the hell is wrong with this cover? It’s awesome!” Well you’re right, but remember…this is a list of box art images that are awesome but are ruined by one flaw. And in this instance that one flaw is laziness. This is not original art, it is merely re-purposed art from the cover of the fourth issue of the original TMNT comic book series by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. You can check out the full image from the comic book in its entirety here. As you can see, they actually cropped a very cool full piece of art completely in half. Beyond that, I’m not a huge fan of using stock images on game box art. It’s lazy, and in this case, completely unnecessary. The Turtles weren’t owned by some huge corporation like Disney–they were owned by Eastman and Laird, the guys who were writing and drawing the comic. How hard would it really have been to get them to make an original piece of art for the game? They’d get paid for the cover art, and then paid again by the royalties from the game sales. Sounds pretty good. And another thing: all the bandanas and arm bands are red. Some of you are probably aware that that’s how they were in the original comics; the concept of colorizing them to make it easier to tell the individual turtles didn’t come until the animated series (the comics were black and white, so differentiating them by color wouldn’t have helped much). The colored bandanas became the default standard for every other media the Turtles appeared in, such as movies and this very game. If you weren’t going to create new art work for the game, couldn’t you at least colorize the bandanas so they match the actual contents of the game?
#3 – Batman: Arkham City – Game of the Year Edition (Multiplatform)
This cover is pretty infamous. For the “game of the year edition” of this Arkham City, Warner Brothers took a crazy awesome black and white image of Batman wiping blood off of his chin..and threw up all over it in a flurry of shameless self-congratulation. Look at how tiny the title of the game is; it’s not even bigger than one of the advertising blurbs on the cover. When you call your game the ‘game of the year edition’ I think it’s implied that the game scored pretty well. No need to beat us over the head with it. At the very least you can put the scores and blurbs on the back of the case, and let people be drawn in by the awesome image of Batman. The one consolation prize about this cover is some snarky internet dweller decided to see this box art to its inevitable conclusion.
#2 – The Guy Game (Multiplatform)
Now for this one, I think the flaw speaks for itself. This was a trivia game aimed at men (that was eventually recalled for its use of underage nudity), set on the South Padre Island. South Padre is a barrier island near the state of Texas that hosts tens of thousands of college spring breakers every year. However, the palm trees on this box art are very clearly Alexander palms, which we all know are not indigenous to Texas. They can in fact be found in Hawaii and Australia, but certainly not on or anywhere near the island where this game claims to take place. Oh yeah, and some goober has planted himself front and center of the frame, blocking our view of the gorgeous ladies behind him. But really, I think you’ll agree it’s the palm tree thing that’s egregious. The trees are definitely the only fake objects to be found on this box art…
#1 – Dragon’s Dogma (European version) – (Multiplatform)
Look at that image…that is magnificent. It’s probably one of the coolest pieces of box art you’ll ever see. The fiery dragon revealing an image of four warriors about to siege a castle, the subtle dragon logo at the top, the colors, everything about this just works. Except, wait…what the hell is that in the bottom right hand corner? A bright purple advertisement for early access to the demo of a completely different game? I know what you’re thinking: “That’s just a sticker on the shrink wrap. No big deal, just take the shrink wrap off and the sticker goes with it.” Well, yes, that’s what 99% of companies would do, but Capcom, in their infinite wisdom, decided a disposable sticker wasn’t good enough. That gaudy eyesore is part of the box art. It doesn’t come off. And of course the Resident Evil 6 “sticker” had to be bright purple and completely clash with the rest of the cover. Just like commercials that are recorded at much louder volume levels than the shows they appear on, Capcom wanted to make sure that nobody could possibly miss this. The cover art Capcom went with for the U.S. version is pretty mediocre by comparison, but at least they’re not advertising a completely different game on it!