Awful Box Art: Street Fighter series

Street Fighter boasts more quality concept art per release than any other gaming franchise we can think of. Each and every sequel is packed with stunning, hand-drawn works of genius, right up to and including Udon’s amazing work with HD Remix.

So, how does a franchise responsible for stuff like this:

Repeatedly get saddled with horrendous box art like this:

With Street Fighter IV a mere seven days away, we feel it’s time to force an unwanted but oh-so-important trip down memory lane, finally confronting what has to be some of the worst box art for one of the best series around. Thankfully, there’s a great deal of redemption as the years wear on, with each new year of sequels bringing better and better covers. But before we can appreciate how far they’ve come, we must confront the dreadful works of years past.

Fighting Street
TurboGrafx-CD | 1988

It’s a well-known piece of nerd trivia that the original Street Fighter was released as Fighting Street on an obscure console adored by precisely six people. Fun fact: it’s not fun at all.

Noteworthy awfulness #1: This is supposed to be Ryu, and that hurts our feelings.

Noteworthy awfulness #2: WTF is the deal with this R? Why is it larger than every letter near it? This isn’t Fighting StReeT

Noteworthy awfulness #3: Did they alter Mount Rushmore just to have Abe’s eyes glaring down at the back of Ryu’s head? Those eyes seem to follow you wherever you go…


Street Fighter II: The World Warrior
SNES | 1992

This cover means so much to so many. Yet even at the height of Street Fighter insanity it was plain to see how piss-poor the cover art really was. We’d all waited for months, wondering what could possibly encapsulate the SF experience so well they’d put it on the box to the very first home conversion. This… this is not what we had in mind for what is still Capcom’s best selling game.

Noteworthy awfulness #1: Blanka looks entirely too happy about crashing into Chun Li’s crotch. Those teeth, those eyes, they suggest a sinister motive that mere words cannot capture.

Noteworthy awfulness #2: The main character, the poster boy of the biggest franchise of the day, is lying flat on his back about to burst into tears. Sadly, it’ll be years before Ryu gets a proper cover.

Noteworthy awfulness #3: The artist takes the “street fight” aspect a bit too literally, placing the scrap in an alley cluttered with trash cans and wooden crates. Guess what backdrop never appears in the game?

Street Fighter II Turbo
SNES | 1993

One year later, a chance for redemption. Will they depict Ryu and Ken in an epic struggle? Perhaps Guile delivering some sonic-boom comeuppance to Bison? Nope! You get a glistening E. Honda and a pouty Sagat duking it out in a bath house.

Noteworthy awfulness #1: Is this the face a warrior makes when he’s slapped in the chest? Frowning because mean ol’ Honda hit your scar a little too hard, Saggy? Take it outside, baby.

Noteworthy awfulness #2: If the yawn-worthy duo of Honda and Sagat wasn’t lame enough for you, how about a barely there cameo from a mid-teleport Dhalsim? Maybe Honda’s slap was meant for Dhalsim, and that’s why Sagat’s so frumpy.

Next page – Sega and Sony join the Street Fighter fray

Join the Discussion
Add a comment (HTML tags are not allowed.)
Characters remaining: 5000
  • morningcrapper - February 17, 2009 11:53 p.m.

    I hope whoever wrote this is doing it as a joke. Most criticisms in the article are extremely petty and hold no substance or weight when you put into consideration the era these prints came out in. It was not just printing tech, but international marketing awareness
  • mEgAzD - February 13, 2009 10:45 p.m.

    and a baby sound effect for Mr Elston's comment
  • nash1991 - February 12, 2009 4:26 a.m.

    I remember playing Street Fighter 2 at the arcade when I was a kid about 7-8 years ago.. I miss those days.. I haven't played any other Street Fighters since then. I feel ashamed. But I am definitely gonna buy SF4.. just to relive that experience once again ;-)
  • SkinnyJr - February 12, 2009 2:10 a.m.

    whoa idk what the hell I was saying up there ^ EDIT!!!! ****The kool aid impression was a priceless form of heartfelt laughter. Very nice work once again****
  • spolasi - February 11, 2009 10:49 p.m.

    show up
  • ronliu75 - February 11, 2009 10:22 p.m.

    love the game
  • Sash - February 11, 2009 1:33 p.m.

    Does anyone else think Street Fighter EX Plus @lpha cover looks a lot like a Jin Kazama pose. I am sure he has been drawn in a pose like this. I dont have any pictures though =[
  • SOLIDSNAKE1983 - February 11, 2009 1:06 p.m.

    Don't mind any of the snes boxes (apart from the boring brick wall), best cover is definitely the GBA one though, alpha covers are cool too. Double impact is the worst-no effort whatsoever!!!
  • mattface - February 11, 2009 10:10 a.m.

    The European box art for champonship edition is the best, in my opinon. It just looks so awesome.
  • Shifty1001 - February 11, 2009 7:38 a.m.

    Aww I feel bad for Brett now. It's okay Brett, I didn't think Tyler wrote the article. You're way cooler anyway. Regarding the article: Good god DAMN SF box-art used to be godawful. Though there's still something about the SF4 art that bothers me... Maybe it's just that Ryu looks more like a toddler who's just been put in the corner than a large man who's decided "Fuck The Bullshit, It's Time To Throw Down".
  • garnsr - February 11, 2009 5:17 a.m.

    USE the FLIPPAH!
  • Rasy2kG - February 11, 2009 3:52 a.m.

    the SF Pinball ad is wrong and terrible to look at in so many ways
  • iKOemos - February 11, 2009 3:29 a.m.

    Bring on Street Fighter IV!!!
  • Red - February 11, 2009 2:11 a.m.

    I remember seeing the Street Fighter 2 box art on the wall at my local video rental store when I was a kid and being completely terrified of the face "the big ugly green guy" was making.
  • GamesRadarTylerWilde - February 10, 2009 10:18 p.m.

    Oh, Chun-Li, why are you always stuffing footballs under your dress?
  • Thequestion 121 - February 10, 2009 10:18 p.m.

    It's cool how the art started out awful and getting better as time went on. SF IV art looks so cool.
  • LionheartAce - February 10, 2009 9:25 p.m.

    Oh lawd. Anniversary Collection is the best by far of the old art, I'm so glad they changed the IV box art instead of using Chun-Li as the main focus.
  • kicking222 - February 10, 2009 9 p.m.

    1) Who gives a damn who comments first? So many other web sites just delete comments that have no content, so why doesn't GR? 2) I love the box art for the new game. I'm never going to play it, because I'm not a fighter guy, but the cover for "SF IV' conveys a great sense of speed and strength, and the swirl effect is just plain cool.
  • paranoidemdroid - March 31, 2009 5:37 p.m.

    hahahah i love the attention to the giant R. box art designers make some funny decisions.