There was a glorious time from the late-70's until the early 2000's when, it seems, many developers didn't give a shit about what they stuck on the front of a video game. This was box art. I use the word "art" in the strictest and broadest sense of the word. See, many games didn't simply just use an image from that game to sell you it. Oh, no. They used art in all its forms to deliver a vague idea of how awesome that game would be.
Most of the time, this worked fairly well.
Other times, we got Mega Man...
Source: Capcom employee six minutes before release drawing on a napkin.
That is hot, steaming garbage. Absolutely no part of that looks like Mega Man. This is Mega Man:
The thing on the cover of the very first Mega Man game is no Mega Man. It's some kind of deformed, melted doll tripping balls in an 80's oasis somewhere outside of the desert of madness. I can't even begin to imagine how or why that cover existed. There's no yellow in Mega Man. His hand is a gun, he doesn't hold a gun. When was Mega Man outside of a casino on the Vegas strip while taking drugs? We can at least give them some margin of error. This was in 1987 and was the American cover of Mega Man so, hey, maybe they had never played the game.
At least when the second Mega Man game came out in the US, surely they would hire a quality artist for Capcom's signature hero that would go on to dozens of games and...
Source: Capcom. No, really.
Uh... I stand corrected. How is he even standing? Why are all the characters now thugs in Halloween costumes and not children-sized robots? Wh? How? Which?
Maybe Capcom's Mega Man franchise was the one dark spot on a long, complex history of beautiful box art for games on the Nintendo franchise platforms. Perhaps it was some sick inside joke and every other game that came out from Capcom and/or for a Nintendo system was a work of brilliant art, fit for the Louvre and not the MOBA (Museum of Bad Art).
LOL. JK. Here's another terrible Capcom game box art from the NES...
To be fair, though the Noid appears to be jumping to his death in the midle of a city on a pizza crusher, the composition itself is much better than the first two Mega Man games. I mean, the colors of the Noid on the Yo! Noid box are correct, and the perspective is fine. It's just that it's a mediocre game with a bizarre pizza eating contest mini-game based on a Domino's mascot.
BROZ SEZ: Kids! Ask your parents about the Noid, Mac Tonight, and all the other long dead food mascots.
Let's move on to the SNES!
I wish that imagine there from the fine folks and Kemco was a joke. Phalanx is actually a decent space shooter and a pretty fun game if you find it at a flea market. This box, though is... Well, there IS a a space ship but WHAT IN THE HELL WERE THEY THINKING?!
That is the actual North American US release box art on the SNES for the game Phalanx which is not now, nor has it ever been, an OMBE (Old Man Banjo Emulator). Why not just a picture of the gameplay? Why not a spaceship? Why not...?
Oh! There IS a spaceship. How foolish of me for not noticing the spaceship as the focal point is an old man playing a banjo for reasons. I have no words.
You know, this terrible choice of game-selling-image is so beyong awful that moves into brilliance. I actually love it. Would anyone remember this game if not for the box art?
Touch Dic - also known as Touch Dictionary - isn't really a game, but it was released on the Nintendo DS and was called Touch Dic. It was released only in South Korea, apparently, so maybe we can let it slide that they didn't really know that calling a game Touch Dic with a phallic looking hand on the cover was hilarious. I also like how bland the actual color and font choices are, too. It really adds to the certain je ne sais quoi that is Touch Dic.
I'm sorry. Penis jokes are funny.
This quality game for the PlayStation, Irritating Stick, looks like absolute garbage, has a stupid name, AND has a stupid name that COULD be a penis joke.
I have thankfully never played Irritating Stick but it appears to be a low rated puzzle game that has nothing to do with Captain Zapp Brannigan holding a lightsaber. Sad. The game cover art, as stupid as it is, actually looks more exciting than the game itself. That is truly a work of greatness, to have a stupid name on a stupid box and somehow that being infinitely more interesting than your craptacular puzzle game. Ah, the PlayStation, a strange forgotten land of shovelware.
The Sega Master System was an 8-bit system largely forgotten in the US that existed to compete with the NES before the Genesis (Mega Drive) was a thing. Most of us in the US know Sega as the company that made the Genesis, Sonic, and then failed miserably for a few years.
Despite the awesome games on the Sega systems - like Sonic 2, Sonic 3, Kid Chameleon, and ToeJam & Earl - we should've known they would fail miserably later because of the Master System box art.
This stupid crap isn't really a one off. The bland, weird graph baber background was common for almost all of the Sega Master System games. It's just white, sadness with whatever the hell that thing in the corner is. It's a guy holding his own head in a poorly done headlock? I guess?
Have a game called Black Belt? It's that same cover, but a foot kicking from the corner instead of a headless wrestler guy. Space Harrier? Same thing, but an alien dragon thing and a guy in the corner. Wonder Boy? Same thing, but a kid jumping over a snail in the corner, still poorly drawn.
I wonder what the hell the art department for Sega was thinking at the time?
Atari had it down. One of the earliest systems anyone ever played, including me because I am old, Atari had the best box art. Period. I mean...
I am not even joking here. That. Is. Awesome. Ninja Golf! The game is weird and actually not that bad, as it's literally a ninja golfing game. But, c'mon. Look at that and yell me - TELL ME - you aren't smiling. Nina Golf!
Haha. That's awesome.
I agree, Peter Griffin. I agree. Ninja Golf is what I imagine looking on the face of creation would be: perfect, beautiful, and confusingly awesome.
And let's end on a high note with the single dumbest piece of crap ever made...
I know what you're thinking. "That can't be real. Snow White and the 7 Clever Boys? You made that up in photoshop, liar!" No, it's not fake news.
Go buy it here! Yaassss!
This cover is so bad, so bizarre, that I have no answers for what it is. Ok, it kind of looks like someone made a Snow White picture in their Intro to Computer Art class. But then, the title? Clever boys? And they are all clearly old men with beards? And why is the witch wearing a hat? And why is Snow White both terrified and orgasming in this picture?
Wait, why does that one dwarf... er, clever boy... look so evil? THERE IS AN EVIL DWARF RIGHT BEHIND HER! Now that is a great twist! She must figure out which Clever Boy is the evil Clever Boy working with the witch, now a habberdasher, to corner the market on CGI apples. It's brilliant, really.
I don't know if Snow White and the 7 Clever Boys is art, but dammit, it's something brilliant.
What's the worst video game box art of all time? Let Nerdbot know in the comments!