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Monday, October 14, 2013

My Favorite Video Game Box Art Part 2

I didn't mean to let so much time pass before making a part two to this series, but I got sidetracked and here we are, four months after the first installment. I'll try not to let so much time get away from me before part 3 arrives. Anyway, here's part 2.

Super Mario Bros. 2 (Japanese ver.)

I just love the complicated history behind this game. First we thought it was a Mario game, although a vastly different one compared to the original Super Mario Bros. Years later, we found out it was a different game, Doki Doki Panic with Mario characters in the place of the original cast. It was thought that because of the character switch that our version of Super Mario Bros. 2 wasn't a true Mario game. Then we found out that our version of Super Mario Bros. 2 began as a prototype sequel. In other words, it was a Mario game from the very beginning. Basically, the game went from being a Mario game, not a Mario game, then back to a Mario game again. Confusing, no?

Anyway, I've always liked the art of the Japanese version over our American cover, which is actually some art from the Japanese version of the original Super Mario Bros. You've got Mario getting ready to lob some veggies at Wart, Luigi. picking up a Shyguy, Peach standing there, appearing to be useless, when in actuality, she's one of the most useful characters in the game and finally, you got Toad, climbing a vine, having the time of this life. I really think the outer pink box compliments the art extremely well.

The Revenge of Shinobi (Japanese ver.)

I happen to favor a lot of Mega Drive box art as some of my favorite gaming box art cover, so you'll have to forgive my mentioning of so many Mega Drive covers during this extensive multi-part feature. Going by the title of The Super Shinobi in Japan, The Revenge of Shinobi was one of the Genesis' earliest games, but from the looks and sounds of it, you'd think it was a later entry. Even today, The Revenge of Shinobi has outstanding visuals and an amazing soundtrack by Yuzo Koshiro. On the Japanese cover, we have Joe Musashi, looking on with what appears to be killing intent with his blade drawn. Some of the simplest of visuals with the right choice of colors can be very effective.


Who says all American NES era games had bad box art? OK, so the original Mega Man has laughably horrendous box art but Casltevania? We're talking one of the greatest images to ever grace an NES box easily. I mean, just look at this cover. Simon, Vampire Killer in hand, preparing to storm Dracula's castle, and the big bad himself looming over the castle, looking all menacing. He's even got blood dripping from his fang's which suggest that he's been doing some feeding. At a time where Nintendo of America was heavy on censorship, it's quite the surprise that the blood on Drac's fangs wasn't edited out. In fact this box art is one of those instances where it remained the same as the Japanese version. The only real difference between the American and Japanese box art is that the Famicom Disk version doesn't use the gray borders, allowing for a bit more of the original image to be seen. Even so, I love both versions of this box art.

Castlevania II: Simon's Quest 

Undoubtedly the weakest link in the NES Castlevania Trilogy, Simon's Quest threw many players off with it's no liner setting and plenty of Guide Dang It gameplay scenarios. That said, it nailed it on the soundtrack as well as the box art. Konami's American branch had a thing for placing gray borders on it's boxes, similar to Capcom USA's purple boxes and I had no problem with either.

Chrono Trigger (Japanese Ver.)

I've been a fan of Akira Toriyama's Dragon Ball series for more than ten years now and I've been a fan of Chrono Trigger far longer than that. At the time, I had no idea that Toriyama was the designer for the characters in one of my all-time favorite video games. These days, his art style is instantly recognizable to me. The Japanese version of Chrono Trigger's box art show's all of the game's playable characters (except Magus) against a white backdrop. Toriyama drew a brand new cover for the North American release, which I like, but not as much as this one.

Einhänder (Japanese ver.)

Have I mentioned that blue is my favorite color? Well, it is. The dark blue background color with a skeletal hand reaching down is another use of simple but oh-so effective imagery. I'm always bowled over at how powerful this picture looks. I'm guessing the developers were quite fond of it because it's the exact same image used for the title screen and it's even the cover for the game's soundtrack album. From the outside looking in, the use of a lone hand may seem like a strange image to use for a shooter, but let's take into account the game's title, Einhänder. That's German, which means single handed, which is how most of your ship's weapons operate.

Super Mario 64 (Japanese ver.)

I mentioned how much I like the American version of Super Mario 64's box art in part 1 but I'm also very fond of the Japanese version. In the early days of the N64, Nintendo was very fond of the white boxes for their games. Nintendo could have shown Mario using the other two Cap power-ups, but I think the use of the Wing Cap was a wise choice. Sure, Mario has flown before in previous games, but never quite like this.

NiGHTS into dreams... (American ver.)

The American covers can't always lose out to their Japanese counterparts and this is one of those times where American beats Japan. The flying in NiGHTS isn't quite as open ended as that of Super Mario 64. It's actually far more restricted, but even so, flying in NiGHTS is quite exhilarating and since it's an important part of the gameplay, why not advertise it on the cover? It's certainly much better than the overseas version, which actually isn't bad, but I gotta give SEGA of America credit for making the call to change it.

Part 1

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