Back before all of us were on the internet watching trailers, flipping through screenshots and reading advance reviews, we did not always have a lot to go on when trying to decide whether or not we were going to buy a game. Sometimes magazines had previews, but most of the time we were left to study the front and the back of the box. The front, which should be a selling point that makes you interested to play the game within, has many times turned into something that was the complete opposite.
Hamza and PY had compiled a list of the forty worst video game covers ever (editor's note: Rival Turf may well have been my pick, so I am using it as our key image to kick these articles off since neither of these guys chose it). Not all of these are older games, but many of them are. We will break this list down into four parts - ten games per day. We will kick off today's installment with half of Hamza's list. Now, in no particular order, let the horribleness begin!
Amnesia (North America)
A single rose lying at the bottom of a well. Amnesia's original cover is full of atmospheric beauty. It emancipates melancholic tones and lures you in with dulcet promises of psychological thrills. For the most part it plays on its promise and I like it all the more for it. However when I look at the NA version, I'm reminded of Fast and Furious. The Grunt is perhaps the most iconic element from the game but this is no way to treat a perennial fan favorite! The extreme use of focal zoom / blur and heavy contrast is befitting for an action game, not one where minimalism and horror is king. An absolute train-wreck if you ask me.
A supposedly pornographic game that incured the wrath of women everywhere, I believe it is the awful cover that's main culprit. The impossibly anorexic woman does not in the slightest look appealing and the unfunny panty outline in the "M" of "Man" doesn't help. In fact, the shameless production makes me cringe every time and now I understand why the finer sex got all riled up when this atrocity came out.
Ico (North America)
The original Japanese Ico cover is considered one of the greatest of all time. Inspired by Giogio de Chirico's work, Nostalgia of the Infinite, the beautifully minimalist cover is still being used as a template ofr attractive game covers. The NA version, however, seems to have been inspired by Barbarian movies because it is anything but! When will people realize that floating, disembodied heads aren't cool--much less a floating, disembodied head that apparently belong to the ghost of an Asian girl. The horrible fading in of the windmill behind the hero is a nasty taste in the mouth. Really, the horrible, horrible mis-match of everything makes Ico look like a low-budget knock-off Spy Kids romp set in some ancient European setting!
Street Sports Basketball
Epyx were known for their superb sports games, usually genre-defining. So why in the wide world of sports did they choose this guy to represent their MS-DOS version of Street Sports Basketball? I mean just LOOK AT HIM! Did he just shit his pants? realize that he left the stove on at home? I don't know what sudden realization of horrific truth was going through his mind, but he sure picked the wrong time to dwell on it. This is not your average bad, this is astoundingly bad that just went full retard. I wonder when and where the moment in time did someone look at this cover and say, "Nice! This is precisely the pants-shitting extreme look I've always wanted. I must make a mental note to pay him a little extra for his clever efforts". The reason why I'm asking is to that I can travel back to that exact moment, shake him violently and scream, "THIS IS THE STUFF THAT HAUNTS OUR NIGHTMARES YOU MORON! DON'T DO IT YOU FREDDY KREUGER-WANNABE! DON'T DO IT!" End of rant.
Resident Evil 6
... And no matter what, even after three years of initial release, the logo still looks like a giraffe receiving head from a woman. The overall package may be appealing to some - but what has been seen cannot be unseen and that is an unfortunate crime. (editor's note: He's right. Crap. I had never 'seen' it that way before. Now I can't stop. Thanks for the nightmare fuel, Hamza).
Road Rash (Sega Genesis)
This cover is a blight on the otherwise excellent Road Rash games. Known for their violent tendency and vehicular combat gameplay, the Road Rash games are shining examples of pre-evil Electronic Arts days. Besides that, the games are known for their kickass covers, with the 3DO's Road Rash being my all-time favorite. The original Sega Genesis game is pretty decent but the cover (to me at-least) is subpar to say the least. For a series known for hyper-kinetic thrills, nothing about this pasted, filtered and fake cover speaks anything about the carnage within. No-one's being fooled here: it's very clear to see the bikes are standing still and the, *ahem*, bikers are engaging in a pose that's oh-so "illegal" and "dangerous". Disgrace!
Lords of Football
Somewhere between their self-flagellation and snorting while eating raw hot dogs, Geniaware abruptly decided to make a fantasy game rather than a football simulator... before exclaiming "screw it! lads, we are currently confused as to what turd we're supposed to be brewing, so let's mix the two and watch the doubloons drop into our office like Lemmings!" Naturally, no Mr. Cash stopped and said "hi!" because no self-respecting gamer made it past the heavily misleading cover. If it has all the promise of being as crazy as Shaolin Soccer fused with Sacrifice but ultimately reveals itself as taxing as an MS Excel spreadsheet, you deserve not to be played!
God of War (Europe)
Every God of War game is near perfect and the respective covers some of the finest out there. The NA version (for once) of the first game is one of my all-time favorite covers. Deciding to show him only partial and completely obscure his face was a pretty bold move; but the strategy worked and thus, nearly every subsequent God of War game followed a similar theme. The camera angle and Kratos's hunched-back stance accentuate the aggressiveness of the Ghost of Sparta and really compliment the gameplay. The EU version, on the other hand, could not be any less complimentary. His shoulder looks weird and, o' goodness, Medusa's head is so strangely illuminated by PhotoShop's Outer Shadow / Outer Glow mix that the Gorgon looks cartoony instead of terrifying. I'm guessing the designer finally learned of the blending options feature and couldn't wait to tell everyone about it. I can understand your excitement but did you really had to destroy a great game to get your message across?
Oh, come on seriously! I mean, talk about mundane. A clear reference to Die Hard, everything about this cover is dead, dull, unexciting and mundane. The man looks completely bored and the explosion at the top of the building looks faker than silicon tits. For a title named after a type of building that houses hundreds and thousands of living people, it sure looks dead and unassuming.
Freestyle Metal X
One of the most ugliest, uncomfortable covers I've ever seen, this is one of the three versions (each a bigger travesty than the last) that were made for this supposedly hardcore racing game. There might be someone who could come up with a justification as to how, er, "cool" the cover looks, but you will be hard-pressed to find one. Until such a guy appears, avoid this cover (and the game for that matter) like the plaque.
Article by Hamza