Awful Box Art: Street Fighter series

Street Fighter II Special Champion Edition
Genesis/Mega Drive | 1993

After a year of SNES-only dominance, Street Fighter finally made its way to the Genesis in 1993. Its arrival was such a major event Sega released a six button controller just to accommodate new players, and its layout helped define the Saturn controller a few years later.

As for the box itself, it’s surprisingly decent, though perhaps a bit too literal, attempting to cram several in-game moments into one image: Sonic Boom, Bison kick, F-16 and busted crate all in one tiny piece of box art. Regardless, it’s worlds better than anything so far, and we can’t pick it apart as easily as the previous games.

Super Street Fighter II
SNES/Sega | 1994

Wow. Forget characters, forget even trying. Let’s just use a brick wall and have the logo do its best Kool Aid Man impression. This was the hardest sell, trying to convince kids who’d already bought two SNES entries that they needed yet another $60 game, and this is the best they could come up with?

However, this is the first SF game with Capcom’s modern logo, so that’s something for the superfans to jot down.

Super Street Fighter II Turbo
3DO | 1995

Above: Image courtesy of vgmuseum

So 3DO, a system you’ve likely never played, had a port of Super Turbo while the SNES and Genesis had to sit this one out. Surely luring in potential buyers with such a prestigious exclusive would be easy, but they botched it yet again with the then-unknown Akuma taking center (and the only) stage with nothing more than a Windows 95-standard wallpaper image.

The Akuma image is strong, but as a package it’s yet another underwhelming representation of the fastest, hardiest fighter of the day.

Street Fighter Alpha
PSone | 1996

The Alpha series saw totally revamped, wildly colorful renditions of popular SF combatants, along with many new characters who were equally arresting. Did any of that make the cover? Of course not. Instead, there’s this Franken-box with way too many ideas clamoring for attention, all at a confusing perspective that suggests the people in the distance are a foot taller than Ryu.

Noteworthy awfulness #1: Chun Li, gazing up at Ken with an awed expression as if she can’t believe what she’s seeing. Keep in mind, this is a girl who shoots fireballs from her hands.

Noteworthy awfulness #2: Bison’s presence is the hardest to reconcile. Everything on the box takes place “inside” his cape, which is casting strange shadows and hiding the fighters from blue storm clouds. Take him out and the others still look boring and halfhearted, but at least it’d make sense structurally.

Noteworthy awfulness #3: That’s Akuma’s kanji all right, but even though it stands for “sky,” it’s been ironically placed on the floor. Maybe someone thought the 3DO box went overboard, yet still wanted Akuma on the cover and figured hiding his kanji was a cool “oh hey Akuma’s in this too!” middle ground.

Bonus art: Street Fighter Alpha re-release

Early PlayStation games were shipped in tall, Sega CD-style cases for the first several months, then converted to standard jewel cases later on in 1996. Alpha’s first release was in the former, while this re-release saw, perhaps for the first time, wholly appropriate box art on a CD-sized jewel case. The best so far.

Street Fighter EX Plus @lpha
PSone | 1997

Street Fighter made the leap from 2D to 3D with the now-defunct EX series, seen here in its PlayStation incarnation. We’re not wild about the deep-in-thought Ryu render, as it’s both bland and obscuring the far prettier background artwork, but at least they chose an iconic character and not Skullomania. But what the hell is up with his eyebrows?

Street Fighter Alpha 2
SNES | 1997

Above: Image courtesy of moby games

This is probably the best of the SNES covers, as it clearly depicts two buff dudes about to throw down. One is the main character you recognize, the other is an intimidating powerhouse you’re dying to see in action. Sakura’s in there too, peering in between two mountainous mounds of man chest. Too bad this is the worst version of Alpha 2 by far, so slow and plodding it’s nearly unplayable.

Street Fighter EX2 Plus
PSone | 1999

Looks like fan art using a rudimentary modeling program, maybe Bryce 3D or something. Amazing that this would pass the many, many channels necessary to make the final product. The logo’s a mess and even though the background’s probably supposed to be a sunset, it looks more like the color of freshly spewed barf. Ick!

Next page – Dreamcast makes its final push and SF box art cleans up


  • 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.

Showing 1-20 of 36 comments

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