Tag Archives: box art

The stuff of nightmares

A few weeks (or was it months?) ago, I published a list of what I consider to be the best HuCard cover art created during the PC Engine’s lifetime. Well, today I’m posting a list of what I consider to be the worst HuCard cover art conceived during those years.

Drop Rock Hora Hora (Data East, 1990)–This piece of cover art almost crosses the line from horrible to “so horrible it’s kind of good.” The key word in that sentence being almost. So, what keeps it from crossing that line? Well, that oh-so-80s sweatshirt worn by the boy in the lower-right corner is one reason; the rather comical expression on the monster behind him is another. I can’t quite decide, though, if the “evil fruit” floating along the left side of the image are further examples of the hideousness of this piece of art (yes, I’m using that word loosely in this case) or if they raise it a few notches on the attractiveness scale.

Kick Ball (NCS, 1990)–Full disclosure: Although a large part of me considers this particular piece of cover art to be nightmare-inducing, a small part considers it to be rather nice–in a “colorfully over-the-top” way, of course. Anyway, I don’t know if the former reaction is due to the overall shininess of the illustration–everyone and everything in the image looks like its been buffed and waxed–or if it’s due to the Mike Haggar look-a-like striking a pose front and center. Oh, who am I kidding? Mr. Haggar’s definitely the main reason this cover art leans heavily toward “scary as all hell” territory.

Puzzle Boy (Renovation, 1991)–There is one reason, and one reason only, I consider this piece of cover art to be nightmarish: The smile plastered on the face of that potato-like creature in the foreground! It reminds me of a similarly freaky smile I once saw in an episode of The Twilight Zone. Curiously, the other (seemingly evil) vegetables featured in this illustration have much less horrifying expressions on their faces. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

Rock On (Big Club, 1989)–This design was created by a middle-schooler using MS Paint, wasn’t it? That’s the only explanation I can come up with for it. OK, so most middle-schoolers wouldn’t have the skills to draw the dragon-like creature in the upper-left corner (or the anime reject in the lower-right corner), but I’ll bet a good number of them would be able to copy and paste those drawings into a Paint document and create something similar to what the designers at Big Club produced for this piece of cover art.

Ryukyu (Face, 1990)–Almost everybody likes a little ass now and then, but few people like that ass to be covered in the bikini equivalent of “granny panties.” The only thing missing from this piece of cover art, in my oh-so-humble opinion, is a field of cellulite. Or maybe some razor burn. Of course, I’m gay, so what do I know? Maybe straight guys really dig the cover art above?

Honorable mention: Devil Crash, Hatris, Shada and Sindibad.


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Five favorites: CD cover art

For what it’s worth, coming up with a list of my five favorite pieces of PC Engine CD-ROM2 cover art was a lot harder than I thought it would be. (Also, it was a lot harder than coming up with my five favorite pieces of HuCard cover art–which I wrote about in this post.)

After much sweating, swearing and handwringing, though, I settled on the following:

Crest of Wolf (Hudson/Westone, 1993)–I tend to like cuter, more colorful imagery when it comes to cover art, but I’m making an exception in the case of this side-scrolling beat ’em up (which was called Riot Zone in North America)–mainly because of the skeleton with the bloody sickle, interestingly enough.

Gate of Thunder (Hudson/Red, 1992)–To be honest, I’m not even sure what this image is supposed to represent. Is that the “Hunting Dog” speeding toward the viewer, or is it some sort of hostile mother ship? I don’t know why I’m asking, because I’ll continue to lust after this piece of strikingly colored cover art regardless of the response.

Puyo Puyo CD (Compile/NEC Avenue, 1994)–OK, I know this choice is going to lose a few of you, but stick with me. Clearly, this piece of cover art isn’t as technically impressive as those mentioned above. It’s brighter and cuter than both of them combined, though, and that counts for a lot in my book. I’m especially fond of the cherry-red logo, which pops, shockingly, from the comparably subtle background imagery.

Sylphia (Tonkin House, 1993)–If you’re looking for a bit (or a lot) of drama in a piece of box art, look no further than the one created for this mythologically focused shmup. There’s the titular fairy in the foreground and a dragon and some Corinthian columns in the background. Oh, and swirling around all of it: Magic! Really, could you ask for anything more?

Ys I&II (Hudson/Falcom, 1989)–I had a really hard time deciding between the Japanese and the North American cover art for this classic RPG. In the end, I chose the latter because of its beautiful dawn-breaks-after-defeating-Darm backdrop. That said, you certainly can’t go wrong with the classy Japanese cover.

Contenders: Ai Cho Aniki, J.B. Harold Murder ClubMagical Saurus TourMonster Lair (North American version), NexzrRed Alert, Valis II and III and Winds of Thunder.


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Five favorites: HuCard cover art

Hundreds of games were released during the PC Engine’s lifetime, so it’s no simple task to come up with a list of the system’s best HuCard cover (or box) art.

As a result, it took more than a bit of hemming and hawing before I was able to settle on my five favorites:

Hany in the Sky (Face, 1989)–It could be argued that one of Face’s other bizarro releases, Hany on the Road, is just as deserving of a place on this list, but I went with Hany in the Sky because of its daring use of color–you don’t often see pink and teal box art–and its abstract nature.

Makyo Densetsu (Victor Musical Industries, 1988)–Don’t hold the following admission against me: I’ve never been a big fan of this game, better known as Legendary Axe in North America. I am a big fan of the game’s box art, though, in part because it brings to mind classics like Castlevania, Golden Axe and The Legend of Zelda.

PC Genjin (Hudson Soft/Red, 1989)–This piece of cover art is the polar opposite of the one above. Whereas Makyo Densetsu‘s cover art is dark and moody, PC Genjin‘s is bright, cheerful and, well, cute. (I especially like the blue dino in the background.) That’s not the only reason this game’s cover art is among my favorites, though; I’m also a big fan of its mixed-media sheen, for instance.

Parasol Stars (Taito, 1991)–Well, this particular piece of box art sure is colorful, isn’t it? It’s also more than a bit busy. Still, I like it. A lot. Not only does it do a great job of mirroring the game’s content, but it does so using a rather groovy and retro-tastic style.

War of the Dead (Victor Musical Industries, 1989)–I’ve never played this game, so I don’t know if it’s great or if it’s crap, but I want to play it regardless simply because of its cover art–which reminds me, in more ways than one, of some sort of long-lost Resident Evil spin-off (or maybe knock-off?). I think that about says it all, don’t you think?

Contenders: Columns, Deep Blue, Dungeon ExplorerGekisha Boy, Kato & Ken Chan, The Kung Fu and Power League.


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Which box art is better (Monster Lair edition)

My recent purchase of Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair prompted me to recall my fondness for the art that graced the cover of the North American version of the game. (Honestly, it was one of the few pieces of TurboGrafx-16 box art that I liked.)

Here’s a scan of the game’s North American cover art, in case it’s been a while since you’ve seen it:

And here’s the Japanese version’s cover art:

I have to say, I think I prefer the art used for the North American release. Which one do you prefer?

See also:Which box art is better? (Exile 2 edition)


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And the award for ‘Worst Box Art Ever’ goes to …

… the PC Engine port of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego.

OK, so it’s probably not the worst piece of box art ever, but it’s still pretty bad.

That said, I think I’m going to pick up a copy of the game soon (along with a copy of the Japanese version of J.B. Harold Murder Club). I have fond memories of playing through Where in the World… (on a Mac, I think) as a teen, and I’d kind of like to give it another go as an old man.

See also: ‘Calling all J.B. Harold Murder Club fans


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Which box art is better? (Exile 2 edition)

I’ve been playing this little game for some time over on my other blog, and while writing up my last post (about Exile: Wicked Phenomenon‘s cover art) I thought, “Why not play it here, too?”

How does one play this game? Well, I post the cover art for a particular game–in this case, the Japanese and North American versions of Exile 2–and then I pontificate about which one I prefer. In a perfect world, said pontification prompts passersby to share their preferences, too.

Anyway, without further ado, here is the art that appeared on the cover of the Japanese version of Exile 2:

And here is the art that appeared on the cover of the North American version of the game (called Exile: Wicked Phenomenon):

I know I heaped a bit of praise onto Working Designs’ daring cover art in my last post, but I actually prefer the image that appears on the Japanese iteration of the game. It gives off a Castlevania kind of vibe, for starters, and it also seems to be a better fit with the title’s “Syrian assassin” storyline.


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