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


  • zymn - February 10, 2009 8:40 p.m.

    it seems they got Janet Jackson to model for the Pinball game cover...
  • sixboxes - February 10, 2009 9:06 p.m.

    That SF Pinball artwork is going to haunt me in my nightmares. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that marketing for the arcade versions were handled by different groups than the home console ports. Hence the wildly varying artwork. Not saying it's an excuse.
  • GamesRadarTylerWilde - February 10, 2009 10:19 p.m.

    @kicking222: Because we're lazy. And we put a "report" function in. Enough reports and you never know what could happen to those "first" comments.
  • GoldenMe - February 11, 2009 12:05 a.m.

    Chun-Li is only sexy when she's NOT trying to be sexy. Great article, Tyler. And can't wait for SF4!
  • Corsair89 - February 11, 2009 1:06 a.m.

    SFIV is going to be amazing. Only 7 more days... @GoldenMe- I agree completely, compare Chun Li on the previous SFIV cover with the Chun Li on the pinball ad. Major difference.
  • GamesRadarBrettElston - February 11, 2009 1:07 a.m.

    Did you know: Tyler didn't write this article? cry....
  • ssj4raditz - February 11, 2009 3:18 a.m.

    Very nice. I'm so glad SFIV's boxart is awesome! Can't wait to play it.
  • Sycomycole - February 11, 2009 3:25 a.m.

    wow, this brings back so many awesome memories... those days were good. thx GR!
  • mirthor - February 11, 2009 4:26 a.m.

    i love me some ghetto sf covers. im going to school for video game development particularly in the art department and i really enjoyed this article. another home run gamesradar keep on being the best site out there!
  • Vagrant - February 11, 2009 6:04 a.m.

    SFIV does have fantastic box art. But is just me or does his eye look a bit weird? Like he's not actually looking at Kenny?
  • GamesRadarJoeMcNeilly - February 11, 2009 3:52 p.m.

    pinball hadouken: left-flipper, both flippers, right-flipper, plunger TILT TILT TILT TILT also, i agree about Chun Li. the harlot look does not become her.
  • SkinnyJr - February 11, 2009 5:09 p.m.

    The kool aid impression was priceless from the heart laughter. Very nice work once again
  • Dr.Salvador - February 11, 2009 5:22 p.m.

  • cdukes13 - February 11, 2009 9:51 p.m.

    the Street Fighter EX Plus @lpha cover looks JUST LIKE the Tekken 3 cover
  • ronliu75 - February 11, 2009 10:48 p.m.

    can't wait for SF4!
  • paranoidemdroid - March 31, 2009 5:37 p.m.

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

Showing 1-20 of 36 comments

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