8 hated box art cliches

4. Face off

Above: Don’t blink

In a world between good and evil, light and dark, the oppressor and the oppressee, man and machine, alien and human, there is an epic battle raging. It is known as The Staring Contest. The staring contest where the blinker pays the ultimate price.

5. Giant heads

Above: Somewhere in the universe there is a planet filled with headless oversized bodies

A designer sits at her computer frantically compositing character art for a cover that was due yesterday. Using her fine-tuned sense of balance and artful addition of negative space, she finally sits back and smiles in her chair. It is done and it is beautiful. Printing the image out and marching purposely into the head honcho’s office she tacks it to the wall and proclaims, “Feast your eyes on this!” while trying to fix her expression to something looking like modesty with a dash of smug self-satisfaction.

Head honcho glances at the image, squints a bit and says it looks too empty. “What’s with all that space up top?” An imaginary light bulb pops up above his head and he quickly Googles an image of any movie poster seen in the last ten years. “I know! Why don’t you put the main characters heads really big up there like this? You got the space, right?”

The designer visibly wilts, removes the masterpiece from her boss’s wall and stalks off. As for us? We’re left with a plethora of oversized heads gracing countless covers for years to come.

6. Giant logo

Above: Make the logo bigger

“Hey guys I don’t know what to do with this cover and it’s due now and our designer’s sick and oh my god it’s due right now where’s the logo at I’ll just throw something together really quick in Microsoft Word!”


  • guillermomatias - May 20, 2011 7:44 p.m.

    Great article by Lars von Trier. I'd rename first section to "No photos please!" though.
  • gruser01 - April 30, 2011 5:07 p.m.

    I agree, some box art is used alot or over used, but isn't that what draws a person or gamer to that specific game to play it or check it out?
  • tlopezkid - April 30, 2011 7:57 a.m.

    Saw 4 different MGS games on this list...great games make up for over-used box art designs. Also like GoW3 one-eye cover, guess I didn't notice so many games use that style.
  • ThePlatypusMan - April 29, 2011 10:08 p.m.

    The first Spider-Man movie game would fall into the "I Have One Eye and Cannot Blink" category and the Spider-Man 2 movie game would fall into the "I Got Your Back" category.
  • jackthemenace - April 29, 2011 11:45 a.m.

    I was like "Yes, I don't own ANY f these games with terrible box art!". Admittedly, I'd played the good ones like FFXIII, but I don't OWN any of them. I was there all smug, until both MGS4 AND God of War 3 turned up in No. 7. Bugger.
  • CitizenWolfie - April 29, 2011 11:29 a.m.

    Looking at most of these I'm glad they change the box art in Europe. Especially the Final Fantasy ones - I reckon "Giant Logo, white background" beats "main character looking away wistfully." I notice you left out the "Scary Villain looking Scary" category. OR is that because you can't bear to have anything Bioshock in a Hate article? RE: JRPG collection - I saw a poster for Dissida 012 in this month's GamesMaster and it really shows up how generic Square Enix's character design has become - the entire front row have the same faces.
  • FinderKeeper - April 29, 2011 3:38 a.m.

    "3. Here, let me get that for you" "what the F**K stop pointing that F**KING GUN in my direction" "there's a fly buzzing just a few inches from your ear... let me get that for you" "take it easy, Mr. Cheney... it's just a fly... and aren't we supposed to be hunting F**KING DEER?!?!1!!"
  • Imthedoctor - April 29, 2011 3:30 a.m.

    haha, the fantasia game cover is hilarious in relation to it's complaint haha
  • manicania - April 29, 2011 2:04 a.m.

    I think they should do a follow up about "What we'd like to see in box art." Because I don't think its fair to call these box arts out for being cliche without letting us and the dev's know what they want to see.
  • Spybreak8 - April 29, 2011 1:40 a.m.

    This should get expanded to indie titles lol, then you'd see use hot babe on cover to interest gamers in your pos game. ^^ I love the Final Fantasy one, yeah all we really have to do is put the name on the box, done.
  • criticalkate - April 29, 2011 1:36 a.m.

    @BluesyFish: Except that The Orange Box still has a character holding a gun pointing close to towards us.
  • sharker - April 29, 2011 1:34 a.m.

    Is this a joke or something? What else do you want? Pretty much every game I've ever owned has box art that'd be on this list.
  • BluesyFish - April 29, 2011 12:37 a.m.

    I've plugged all of this data into a machine. And the best boxart evar is... The Orange Box? If you say so Cheryll and the Machine
  • yesIusetheM14 - April 28, 2011 11:45 p.m.

    Another great article, GR.
  • egregious - April 28, 2011 10:28 p.m.

    I just want to point out it's funny that the first box art I see is for DQ5 which I just bought at an Amazon Lightning Deal for $20. (It's gone. Sorry!)
  • zigs - April 28, 2011 8:43 p.m.

    Cheryll, that was an awesome article! Really laughed reading this =D Please do the follow up (obviously once Week of Hate is over) with a list of the best, most inspired box art!
  • tehgamer - April 28, 2011 8:13 p.m.

    I feel that this article should include the classic orange/blue contrast cliche, although that afflicts more than just video game box art.
  • macewindex - April 28, 2011 7:53 p.m.

    So... the perfect box cover would be a single, unarmed, at attention lone character who does not look into the 'camera' while simoultaneously not being mysterious or creepy. bo-ring
  • Japanaman - April 28, 2011 6:20 p.m.

    I own so many of those games, it's not funny. I even bought Metroid: Other M an Mario Super Sluggers a few days ago. I'm looking forward to more bad covers, like Silohettes, Motion Blur, Close-Up of a Car, Really Blank Cover, and Painted Covers.
  • BurntToShreds - April 28, 2011 4:20 p.m.

    They don't really bother me that much. Box art is made for the same purpose that movie posters are made: To catch your attention. You can see a lot of the same cliches in movie posters, it's just more noticeable on video game boxes because we see them more often.

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