Ah, the box art story. Ol' R'liable we like to call it, always good for a laugh and sure to inspire conversation about what makes cover art good, bad or legendarily awful. This time though, we're going a different route and focusing on covers that totally botch the simplest rule of box art - it should reflect the product cleanly and clearly. These poor examples couldn't even keep it together long enough to be regular old "bad box art."
Offender - Marvel: Ultimate Alliance
Crime - Spider-Man swinging with a goddam rope
Spider-Man, perhaps the only fictional character in history known for swinging from rooftop to rooftop via his own stringy webs, is here depicted using a rope. A rope. What the blistering hell is this? That's like putting Wolverine on the cover brandishing knives instead of, you know, the foot-long claws already growing in his arms.
We could go on about how Spider-Man generally doesn't hold his hand like that while shooting webs (it should be palm up, unless in the black costume), but this rope nonsense is enough. But if you want proof...
Yes Spidey, it was a dumb thing to do, putting your hand like that on the cover. Glad we're on the same page... of Spectacular Spider-Man 93.
Offender - Mario Kart Wii
Crime - Um, karts please?
The name is Mario Kart Wii. Mario's on there. You know Wii is on there because of all the blinding white, but where are the karts? In other words, where is the thing you'll actually be doing? You're not running and jumping with Mario, so "kart" is the key word here. Wait, wait a second... oh there they are, buried under a mountain of logos and copyright bullshit.
Even with all that white coating the cover, and an extra large package designed to accommodate the Wii Wheel (which does receive proper attention), they still couldn't sneak a kart in anywhere? No, instead let's get the wheel in there four times plus wrist straps on Mario and Luigi. Their quest for details ended up omitting the one thing that should have stayed.
Offender - Dragoneer's Aria
Crime - Favoring smoky dragon over sexy upskirt shot
No disrespect to the talented Juno Jeong (who provided the game's fantastic artwork), but this is boring as hell when it comes to covers. However, blandness simply makes this bad box art, not necessarily something that misses the point. But compare this sleepy cover to the instruction booklet and it's clear which should have received top billing:
One has a tired dragon lying in total darkness... the other has gorgeous characters and an elven upskirt shot. It's an RPG, and what's one of the most important aspects of any RPG? The cast, not monsters, and that's why Aria makes the list - for nixing sexy character art in favor of a steamy-mouthed lizard.
Hey dragon, I have a prediction for your crystal ball: FAIL.