Why did I play this?Why did I play this?

Posted on Dec 28th 2014 at 12:00:00 AM by (SirPsycho)
Posted under Christmas twist, sega, nec, pc, nes, nintendo

One of my favorite parts about video games, other than collecting and playing them, is looking at the art included with the packaging. Your first impression of a game is likely going to be the initial part of the package you see, more often than not, it's the box art. With thousands of titles comes just as many examples of box art, and they range in appearance from artistic genius to something that looks as bad as a five year-old's first photoshop. While everyone else is doing their Top Games of 2014, I wanted to do something a little different; those that have read my blog since its earlier days know that most of my lists are usually different from the rest. And I want this holiday special to be no different. In no particular order here are five examples of the best, and worst examples of video game box art of all time!


We'll start with the worst, since these are usually hilarious and you'll get all your gut wrenching laughter out of your system before we get super serious with the examples of good box art.

Black Belt

I think Sega was trying to convey minimalism with this cover, but with such a poorly drawn foot, it ends up looking like a toddler's doodle of daddy's crusty toes. One positive aspect of this example is that you do in fact kick people with your foot in this game, so it gets a few points for being relatively accurate. Sega's Master System is littered with pieces of awful box art, but there are plenty of great pieces in their library as well. So don't let this one example sour your opinion of a great system.


This one is a double whammy. The Turbo-16 art is pretty awful, but so is the NES art as well! I love how the NES box claims, "Nearly 1 million sold in Japan." I know the gaming market was smaller back then, but who would think that it's not good enough to sell more than a million! Also, the actual word "Bomb!" is used as a sound effect. The Turbo art looks like it could be a buddy comedy about two older and out of shape terrorists trying to get back into the game of blowing stuff up so they dress up in space outfits and start chucking old time bombs all over the city to let the young'uns know who's still in charge!

Rival Turf

Nothing frightens me more than seeing a couple of suburban 90's kids looking so tough. This is their turf, so you best back off!

Tongue of the Fatman

How many of you reading this could tell, just by looking at the cover of this game, that Tongue of the Fatman is a fighting game? Not only is it a fighting game, but it is a fighting game for various PC systems. Prepare for awful keyboard controls and disgusting character design. There's no reason at all to play this.

Metro Cross

Remember when I mentioned a five year old's first photoshop? I wasn't joking, not entirely at least, and Metro Cross is the punchline. For trying to be rad and extreme, there is entirely too much safety equipment on this piece of art. Remove your knee and elbow pads chump, we can discuss the blue and orange turtleneck one piece suit afterwards.


Get ready to have your laughter from these awful, but in some cases hilarious, pieces replaced with awe-inspiring artwork that showcases talent, vision, and good planning.

Time Soldiers

Consider this piece the Master System's redemption. I love the art on this cover, and the game inside is quite fun if you dig Commando or Ikari Warriors. My favorite detail is not the tank and the dinosaur trying to get through the time portal, or the guy firing his bazooka at the visible time portal. It's the guy firing his bazooka towards the viewer, which alludes to the fact that there is something we can't see just off to the side that is just as intimidating as a T-Rex and a tank. You have to play the game to find out!

Ys Book I & II

And here is the Turbo's redemption. These Ys remakes are considered to be the killer apps of the Turbo CD here in North America. They were highly regarded critically upon release, and had some of the best CD quality audio of their time. The soundtrack has held up well, so go give it a listen. This cover makes me think that the game is a long lost Dio era Rainbow album. As great as that would be, the games are so good that I am not disappointed its not.


There is no other box like Wasteland, well except for Wasteland 2. Wasteland is considered to be one of the all time classics of PC role playing games, and introduced gamers to a post apocalyptic view of the American Southwest. The idea and setting would be used as the groundwork for a spiritual successor almost a decade later in the more popular series Fallout. No other game at the time took the top down perspective this game did or made such a wonderful piece of art for their cover.

System Shock 2

Looking Glass Studios is one of my favorite developers of all time. It was loaded with talent and produced some of today's most beloved games. When it came to quality, they were almost unrivaled on their native PC platform. The green eyes, the circuit wiring on the face, with wires protruding from each side, and the spaceship on the bottom, let the viewer know that they are in for a wild, science fiction ride.


Just look at everything Psygnosis. That's my advice. I don't know what to say other than the word that's already in the title of the game.

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I'm surprised you didn't use the art for Ys III on the Turbo CD, especially since you have that wonderful Falcom cover up there to contrast it too.  Man, no one made sweeping landscapes like Falcom.

The Metro Cross cover is precious, and has now become the desktop background for my work computer.  It's like Gary Busey's kid ran his hand over by accident during a photo shoot.  Wonderful.

And anything by Roger Dean is pretty much the greatest.

Thanks, Psycho.

The original Mega Man cart art for the NA release is pretty bad and would be a good inclusion in this list. I get the awfulness of the Turbo-Grafix cover for Bomberman, but I think the NES label is pretty awesome. Yeah, not the classic Bomberman look, but the comic book style artwork is great IMO.
@singlebanana: Everybody knows about Mega Man already, but everybody NEEDS to know about Metro Cross.
The NES Bomberman art reminds me of his grim-&-gritty reboot from "Act: Zero." Kinda makes me wonder if it was the only reference of Bomberman the developers of "Act:Zero" were given, never knowing the Bomberman series is anything but serious-business. Judging from the resulting travesty, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised...
@SirPsycho: Using that logic, I could say that everyone knows about Rival Turf and the minimalism of basically every SMS game. It's your Top 5 of course, just pointing Mega Man out.

It's funny, but the very minimal artwork on SMS games and that grid pattern are what make them so cool and distinctive to me. Other than the black and silver box games released on its counterpart, I can't think of many systems that really made the effort to physically brand their games this distinctively. Even from a distance, you could easily make out the rack full of SMS games in a department store back then.
@singlebanana Sega did a good job at that, the Genesis had some identity issues, but all the systems up to the Dreamcast you knew what it was before getting to it at the store.  now we just getting different colored DVD/blueray boxes and screenshots for the covers. 

I think some of the best art work was on the Atari and intellivision, just because the games seemed not to have anything to do with the art.
Nifty article Wink

Also, this could solely comprise the box art of the entire Arcadia 2001 library. For best AND worst. At the same time.

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