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Normally, we try to avoid picking on licensed games in these features. For starters, it’s too easy, and the horribleness is usually the fault of the licensed property itself, rather than of terrible design decisions. However, while licensing a game from Love Is… – the comic strip once described by Homer Simpson as about “two naked eight-year-olds who are married” – is a bad idea in and of itself, it’s not to blame for that nasty green background. Compared to that, the presence of nude, sleepy-eyed kids is like acne on a leper.
Art like this is what happens when games desperately want to be called “Miyazaki-esque” and then fail miserably at it. Going by this, the game apparently revolves around a family of hulking aberrations of nature and putrid undead terrors, who live a peaceful, idyllic life on a sunny, floating island where everyone shares their toys and gets along. And that’s not a world we’re particularly interested in exploring, not even if we get to play as that kid and set up blue stage lights for the big dance number later on.
“I DID IT MUM I DESIGNED AN EYE-SEARING PURPLE-GREEN WEBSITE FROM 1996 AND MY TEETH ARE LIKE RAZORS GNNRAAARRRRGGGHHH!!!!”
Never before has our point been made so eloquently for us by the title of the game itself. System Flaw’s box is a mess of visual gibberish, as bloblike alien-things vie for your attention alongside meaningless blurbs, distracting graphics and a guy who’s apparently never played a DS game before. It’s the stuff headaches are made of. Let’s move along.
Ugh. Disregarding the gigantic German ratings label that dwarfs the game’s logo, this thing looks like someone got the idea to make a World War II Homies game, and then crammed all the characters together as densely as possible so as to make more room for lens flares and the color brown. The characters are ugly, the composition is ugly, and hell, the idea is ugly. Ugly all around, this one.
This… is not how you create the box for a horror game. This is not even how you create an ad for a horror game. This is how you use the word “fear” to search for a stock photo of a woman hiding behind a couch, slap it onto your game box and call it a day. Or wait, no – first you get a bizarre quote from T. Kanazawa, whoever he is, then you switch the game’s subtitle from “Haunted House Simulator” to the “deliciously” “punny” “A Fright Simulator,” and then you call it a day.
Congratulations! You have designed a cover that conveys absolutely no information apart from “it is scary but also maybe funny; also, woman,” and nobody but eccentric millionaires who always buy one of everything in the store when they go shopping is going to have the slightest interest in playing your game.
For the record, this is how the US box looks. Not too much better, but at least that one big eyeball offers a clearer idea of what the game’s about:
If you just glanced casually by that image, the mental safeguards built into your brain probably just dismissed it as an ugly, 32-bit-era Sonic the Hedgehog ripoff. But they you probably wondered why it’s in the No. 1 spot, and so you went back and looked at it a little more closely.
If you did, you might have noticed, after a few seconds, that Pogo Bunny has no legs. So, OK, he bounces around on his legless butt, right? Nothing we haven’t seen in a game before. But then, you might notice that he doesn’t have any arms, either. In fact, his only visible extremities are a pair of disembodied gloves. Human gloves, with five carefully articulated fingers. Gloves that are out of proportion with the rest of his limbless torso. Gloves that could grab at those pieces of fruit. Gloves that could grab at you. Gloves that could wrap themselves around your neck and squeeze tighter and tighter as you fell, lost forever, into Pogo Bunny’s all-encompassing stare.
Above: HE LIVES IN YOUR SOUL NOW
So now you know why most cartoon characters have four-fingered hands. Guard that knowledge well.
Above: “YOU HAVE A KIIIIIIND FAAAAAACE”
Dec 15, 2009
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