8 hated box art cliches

7. I have one eye and I cannot blink

Above: There’s an eye-related pun here we should be taking advantage of but we won’t

Placing a giant head on your cover is attention-grabbing. Placing half of a giant head on your cover is attention-grabbing and mysterious. With that kind of thinking, focusing your entire cover on a single eyeball whose unwavering stare burns itself into every single neuron in your brain is seriously just some creepy shit. Unless you’re allowed the ability to shoot lasers from your eyeballs or your mortal enemy is a gelatinous orb whose only weaknesses are anything citrus or an early case of cataracts, stop freaking us out like this.

8. Say aaaaaaaahhhhh

Above: Careful, your face my freeze that way

There’s a direct correlation between the amount of excitement you can expect from a game with how big a character’s mouth is on the cover. For instance, the rarely discussed Seventh Commandment of kid-friendly box art design states, “Thou shalt have all characters screaming obscenities.” Thankfully, modern technology has yet to catch up to sound-based box art, but when it does the ESRB is going to have a field day.

Bonus: The JRPG character collage

The JRPG genre is rife with visual clichés; big spikey hair, heroes who never look older than 16, impossibly sized weaponry, innocent looking women, cute animal-based sidekicks. Thankfully, if you weren’t familiar with those you can almost always count on all of them being represented in another clichéd fashion: the all hands on deck character collage. Setting? Environment? Enemies? What’s that?

Hey, you know if you move that purple-haired girl over to the left you could make the protagonist’s weapon even bigger, right?

Apr 27, 2011

The worst box art of 2010
40 of the year's ugliest attempts at game packaging


Why Japanese box art is better
Nine astounding differences between East and West


Box art that got it all wrong
It's not just bad, it completely misses the point


  • 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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