The worst box art of 2009

Mocking the worst box art to hit store shelves in a given year isn’t just an easy well to draw from for cheap laughs – around here, it’s a holiday tradition. As each year draws to a close, we gather up the ugliest, most misguided and cheapest-looking game boxes we can find, and then – ignoring the obvious difficulties and stresses publishers face in choosing a single image that could decide the fate of a given game at retail – we mock them for your amusement.

Interestingly, this recession-choked year squeezed out a lot of wonderfully awful gems, as budget publishers competed to see who could use up the world’s entire blank-DVD supply first. In fact, the field’s been so fertile that we’ve had to expand our usual 20 entries to 25 just to accommodate the overflow, along with a few “special” awards for boxes that, while not particularly ugly, were each terrible in their own small ways.

As always, please bear in mind that we’re not making any judgments here about the games themselves – just the terrible boxes they came in.

25. Petz Hamsterz Bunch

Released: Oct 27


This one’s right on the cusp between cute and horrible, but that gerbil-looking thing in the grass skirt, coupled with the earless hat-hamster in the center, push this from mildly demeaning cartoon fantasy to creepy fever dream about malevolent rodents that walk like men. And also that know how to wield club-like maracas.

24. The Dark Spire

Released: April 14


Believe it or not, box art plays an important role in the retail process. Its job is to catch the eye of the consumer, instantly give him or her an idea of the experience lurking within and, in casual-shopper cases, close the sale with its extreme awesomeness.

So it’s sad to see a game as unique-looking as The Dark Spire represented by a bland, gloomy logo and some outlines of bricks. It’s not just below the bare minimum – it’s the same kind of shit high-school sophomores scribble on their desks.

23. Water Sports

Released: Oct 27


Meanwhile, the box for Water Sports does a decent job of showing viewers exactly what it’s all about. However, it does a much better job of looking like it’s made of Fruit Roll-Ups cut to look like clip art and thrown haphazardly against an “ocean” backdrop made of even more Fruit Roll-Ups.
Also, the game’s name is either a painfully straightforward description of the activities on offer, or a direct reference to a urine-soaked sex act. Nice.

22. The Book of Unwritten Tales

Released: Nov 24


Admittedly, this adventure-game parody sports one of the more competent boxes on this list, and at first glance, there’s very little wrong with it. Except for maybe the oxymoronic title. And the eerily childlike face of that elf-girl there. And the allusions to Lord of the Rings that toe the line between “parody” and “blatant ripoff.”

But what really gets to us is the crab-like muppet thing. Not only is he completely out of place, but we can’t shake the nagging feeling that we’ve seen him somewhere before…

Oh, right: 

21. Hysteria Hospital: Emergency Ward

Released: June 16


Jesus, what a mess. While some poor sap gets electrocuted in the upper left, the shifty-looking orderly ignores him to lavish some attention on a dumb kid who got his foot caught in a fishbowl. Meanwhile, Foreground Nurse can’t be bothered with either of them; she’s too busy losing her shit because the EMT is laughing at her for distracting him with her huge breasts and making him crash the ambulance into the game’s logo again.

But still: way better than socialized medicine, amirite?

20. Petz: My Monkey Family

Released: Nov 21


Aw, isn’t this sweet? Just animals being cute, with no ridiculous hats or maracas or… uh… hang on…








Left 4 Dead 2

For the record, this is what Left 4 Dead 2’s US box art looks like:

Above: Strong. Evocative. Gnarled as all hell 

And this is what UK gamers see on store shelves:

Above: Weak. Flaccid. Possibly declaring victory 

For readers outside the UK, the “controversy” behind the packaging change stems from the so-called “two-finger salute,” a rude gesture common to the UK that’s roughly analogous to flipping the bird.

Above: Sort of like this, yes 

Apparently the idea of neat rows of zombie hands flipping off a nation’s grandmothers from the bully pulpit of store shelves was just too much for the game’s European distributors to bear. Whatever their reasons, couldn’t they have at least come up with something more threatening?


  • randilon - September 22, 2010 4:12 a.m.

    Doctor Fizzwizzle’s Animal Rescue! Hey i cant stop laughing everytime i remember the look on the sheep's face and you saying Dolly knows you’ll buy this just to find out what doctor’s keeping from you. OMG Hillarious man... That sheep i'll remember for my entire life
  • Randomwordcombination - June 30, 2010 3:14 a.m.

    Great article!! That NAMBLA bowling league literally made me laugh out loud.
  • twewy13 - January 28, 2010 8:50 p.m.

    r-r-r-r-r-r-raaaaaadio those martians were awesome
  • linkganon - January 3, 2010 6:40 p.m.

    if gamesradar has not done this yet, they probabally should. how about an article that includes the best boxart of 2009? i'm not sure if it wasn't done so this is why i'm saying they should.
  • StefanGrey - December 28, 2009 3:46 a.m.

    Is it me or does the Yeti on the bowling game kinda look like he stole Omega Red's hair & bandana?
  • FanofSaiyan - December 28, 2009 12:50 a.m.

    Hilarious, can't wait to see what box art they skewer in 2010. :D
  • PrierAdmirer - December 26, 2009 4:50 a.m.

    Hilarious. Once again, the zoom-in what never fails to disappoint. Great article GR.
  • Aelphais - December 23, 2009 9:05 p.m.

    For the record, The Void is an excellent game that is not for everyone but stands out as being something mostly different in this space marine filled FPS brown world. It doesn't hold your hand nor present the entire game as one long tutorial. Also there are a lot of naked women.
  • hardcore_gamer1990 - December 21, 2009 8:57 p.m.

    YES A YOUNG ONES REFERENCE It's bad that I can quote something older than I am, isn't it? xD
  • JustTheBoBreaker - December 21, 2009 5:01 a.m.

    The Hysteria Hospital box is hilarious. And what's with the peace sign meaning "fuck you" in the UK?
  • sveini22 - December 19, 2009 1:37 p.m.

    awfull all of them
  • GamesRadarMikelReparaz - December 18, 2009 7:46 p.m.

    @TonyBlue05: Hmmm... more than likely it's a stock photo that companies can pay to use, but that does explain the bizarre way he's holding the DSi in that shot.
  • TonyBlue05 - December 18, 2009 6:05 p.m.

    Whoops, sorry. Here it is again, but it fits now: images/store/game_gift_lg.jpg
  • TonyBlue05 - December 18, 2009 6:04 p.m.

    You know what else is funny about the System Flaw cover? It's douche hero is a stolen pic:
  • jackthemenace - December 18, 2009 5:51 p.m.

    OMG, this is so funny! although almost all of the games are from nintendo... hmmm... is it just me, or is #6 basically just "the hills have eyes" remake for kids?
  • G1drake - December 18, 2009 4:17 p.m.

    monkeys....making xxx in my box art?
  • noobeater - December 18, 2009 2:58 p.m.

    oh yea and i love how you constantly zoom in on made me laugh this year and so it did last year
  • noobeater - December 18, 2009 2:56 p.m.

    the oxymorons were funny as fuck great article and the point you made about the gloves and eyes was genuinly scary to think about and yes the wii is aweful
  • GamesRadarMikelReparaz - December 18, 2009 1:46 a.m.

    @Darkhawk: Check last year's article.

Showing 1-20 of 73 comments

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