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GamesRadar's favorite box art

We discuss box art a lot at GamesRadar. From our yearly worst box art feature, to our most hated clichés, to misleading covers it tends to come off like all we do is talk about what we dislike. And, while it’s generally more entertaining to bitch and moan about things, you know what’s better? Unadulterated, warm and fuzzy, completely nonsensical love. Here we’ve compiled GamesRadar’s most loved box art chosen for reasons as deep as childhood nostalgia to as shallow as “Cows!”


Kingdom Hearts (2002)

Charlie Barratt

Admission: I have never played Kingdom Hearts. I own the game, but I’ve never even popped the disc into my PS2. Why? Because I’m afraid. Scared that the actual experience of Kingdom Hearts will never live up to the wild expectations I’ve built in my head, expectations based on this box art and the feelings of wonder and nostalgia it stirs within my geeky soul.

Square. Disney. Square. Disney. No companies other than Nintendo and maybe Sierra (obligatory Gabriel Knight reference!) had a greater impact on me as a child… and here they are together in a single image. Not fan art, but an official product that sold well enough to earn a sequel. I don’t even have a clear idea what Donald and Goofy do in Kingdom Hearts, but seeing them portrayed as heroic Final Fantasy-esque characters instead of goofy theme park mascots makes me indescribably happy every time I look at my still shrink-wrapped copy of the game. Like a wrapped Christmas gift, this box art ignites my imagination – opening it would only ruin the magic.


Secret of Mana (1993)

Michael Grimm

While it wasn't quite as good as FFIV or Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana's cool combat system and colorful sprites still made it one of the SNES's true classics. As is often the case with JRPGs, Secret of Mana’s story revolved around the well-worn idea of the chosen heroes uniting against an evil force trying to exploit nature. The box art depicts the Hero, the Girl and the Sprite child standing before the Mana Tree, the source of the world’s life energy. The massive scale of the tree vs. the tiny heroes and the beautiful detail of the tree and the flora do a great job of communicating the game’s core without using a single world: Nature’s vast power and beauty may be much greater than you, but you’re the only ones who can save it. Incontrovertible proof that most 90s Japanese game devs were hippies.


Yars’ Revenge (1982)

Eric Bratcher

I had a whole argument ready about this box art and its place in history. How box art in the 2600 age invariably looked like a Norman Rockwell sketch, a coloring book picture, or just an experiment in repainted toys gone wrong, and this blew them all away. But I don’t need any of that.

Look at this box art. Just look at it. It’s a fly. But not just any fly. A space fly, made of pure metal and with red, glowing-ish eyes. It’s clearly bigger than the already awesome drill missile/rocket in the foreground. And it’s rapid-fire vomiting something that looks like either Nerf balls or very small stars – which actually totally rocks either way. Yars’ gameplay has faded over the years, but this box art is still pure magic. I’d buy this game today if I saw this balls-out, sci-fi nerdgasmic heavy metal image on the case – and if you wouldn’t, I don’t care to know you.


Super Mario Bros 3 (1988)

Henry Gilbert

Why’s this the best? One word: simplicity. Sure it could have been a detailed, fancy action piece showing off lovely art of all the new enemies and power-ups (and in fact the Japanese box art did), but in America they cut straight to what was essential. The message was, “Mario can fucking fly now,” and the world was ready to listen. That one fact immediately changed everything you thought a Mario game could be.

Using bright, basic yellow for the background and blue for the title made it stand out all the more. The cartoony art of Mario is timeless and the look on his face conveys the excitement that’s waiting inside that box if only your parents would buy it for you. Its only shortcoming is the brief description in the bottom right about it being the most exciting Mario ever. The box art already conveyed that in an instant.

Topics

Old-school

88 comments

  • ElwoodFiore - May 21, 2011 10:50 a.m.

    Your tattoo of the Zelda symbolic shield Elston; I'm sorry to say but the key is not supposed to be touching the top right side lol. And your missing the cracks on the right side of the shield, and the bends. Somebody didn't pay attention to much detail. Don't take it offensive, I'm just offended by the person who fucked it up.
  • GamesRadarCharlieBarratt - May 19, 2011 midnight

    @secretsearcher Well, it's Brett's arm, not mine. But yes, it is a cool tattoo.
  • secretsearcher - May 17, 2011 3:58 a.m.

    @CharlieBarratt I think it's a cool tattoo. It's your arm. Do whatever the eff you want.
  • Soulofjazzman - May 16, 2011 11:43 p.m.

    Chrono Trigger for Super Nintendo. Akira Toriyama's artwork is amazing. Not to mention his unique art style that NO ONE can replicate. I dont care how hard Funimation tries to retrace his pen strokes. That man is a genious. Crono looked like Goku. Two amazing heroes. It's what started it all for me in the RPG relm. When Nintendo was KING! Honerable mentions: Super Mario RPG, Secret of Mana, Illusion of Gaia, Final Fantasy III, and Secret of Evermore. Enough said...
  • mhendon - May 16, 2011 7:13 p.m.

    My favorite box art is Dragon age: Origins. White with a bright red dragon silhouette. Its simple yet it stands out. Actually, I like it for a lot of the same reasons as the Zelda one. Its sort of a mystery.
  • GamesRadarCharlieBarratt - May 16, 2011 6:25 p.m.

    @lukas1051 Wow, really? Why not just say "Move out of your parents' basement" or "Get a girlfriend" and fully become the cliche?
  • bread_or_decide - May 16, 2011 4:20 p.m.

    So of course I had to look up Yar's Revenge! Looks wicked fun and there's an xbox live HD updated version? WHAT? Why has no one told me?
  • wittynickname - May 16, 2011 1:55 p.m.

    The Pokemon one is ridiculous. And identical to every box for every Pokemon game ever released. Character art imposed over a swirling Photoshop effect would be roundly mocked as Worst Box Art in most any other case.
  • lukas1051 - May 16, 2011 12:07 p.m.

    Zelda tattoo? Oh fucking dear. Go outside or something.
  • AuthorityFigure - May 16, 2011 7:56 a.m.

    The Yar's Revenge box is ruined by the orange wash-out (it's used as a back and foreground colour).
  • Spybreak8 - May 16, 2011 3:12 a.m.

    Damn that Doom one is badass isn't it. I think I like Bioshock's boxart a lot and I'm also partial to Crackdown's boxart.
  • Misterscaryface - May 16, 2011 1:38 a.m.

    As crappy as the game might be the box art for Lair is really good.
  • Eliath - May 15, 2011 11:35 p.m.

    I would have to say Secret of Mana is my favorite as well. I actually just pulled out my SoM box complete with poster of said box art last week when unpacking. The poster also includes more of the image, but not as much as what GuiltyInnocent linked. The Super Famicom box art of Illusion of Gaia is also high on my list. http://images3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20070904005620/egamia/images/thumb/d/d1/GaiaGensouki.jpg/280px-GaiaGensouki.jpg
  • XD00175 - May 15, 2011 4:44 p.m.

    Nice feature. My personal favorite has to be Halo 3. It's my favorite game, and the awesome box art just completes it. Mass Effect and the first two Fables have awesome covers as well.
  • philipshaw - May 15, 2011 3:48 p.m.

    Awesome feature and I would have to say that the UK box art for Ico is my favourite box art of all time just because it's a great piece of art and it made me take notice of and buy a game at the time I had never heard of. This gen I would have the RDR box art as my favourite
  • Combatjack0331 - May 15, 2011 2:49 p.m.

    Katamari box art has been my phone's wallpaper forever now. Don't know why, just love it.
  • GuiltyInnocent - May 15, 2011 6:39 a.m.

    I support Michael's choice: Secret of Mana has an awesome box! You can appreciate the artistic character of the image and majesty of the tree even further in the Japanese box art: http://bit.ly/ktXdm2
  • secretsearcher - May 15, 2011 4:40 a.m.

    One of my favorite games, and one of my favorite boxes: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_aKIwBO1p12Y/TPUTtHX8zBI/AAAAAAAAD4A/XfABoZocuxc/s1600/Golden%2BSun%2B2%2B-%2BThe%2BLost%2BAge%2B.jpg Intriguing and mysterious
  • LordZarlon - May 15, 2011 3:27 a.m.

    Privateer for the PC has to be mine. A simple seen of your ship flying toward a space station with a couple other ships in the back round. It seems basic but it opens a window into a whole universe for you to explore at your own speed. While the Wing Commander games had a standard mission structure Privateer let you be a trader, smuggler, mercenary or pirate and the box art only hinted at the months you would spend exploring it all. Timeless.
  • IntimidatingStair - May 14, 2011 11:02 p.m.

    RockStar games usually have pretty nice covers, but ones that standout to me include the first God of War, Bioshock, and Halo 3's bright art.

Showing 1-20 of 88 comments

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