The worst box art of 2014

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here

At the end of each year, I find myself overwhelmed by a mixture of anticipation and dread. While those around me look to the future with newfound optimism, I already know my fate: scouring through 12 months' worth of box art to find the absolute worst of the worst, like a feces-obsessed archaeologist excitedly excavating a treasure-trove of fossilized shit. It is both a blessing, and a curse. And it's time that I share my latest findings with you. Should you think yourself brave enough to read on, you'll find 2014's ugliest, most nonsensical, and frankly disturbing pieces of video game box art.

As always, my critiques have nothing to do with the actual games themselves - just the boxes they come in, or the images that headline them for digital distribution. If you're crazy enough to want a closer look at any particular piece of eye-accosting art, remember that you can click the icon in the upper right of each picture for the full-size image, then press Escape to close them and return to the procession into madness. Speaking of processions into madness, let's begin!

50. Space Legends: At the Edge of the Universe

Bootleg Kate Beckinsale in a bootleg Tony Stark outfit standing in front of some bootleg planetarium-from-the-future stock art. This does not bode well for my start as a Space LLegend (pronounced like 'llama').

49. Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2

Pac-Man, typically a mild-mannered five-sixths of a circle, seems to be suffering from what researchers call 'The Kirby Effect', where a traditionally cute character is meant to look extremely menacing on box art for no reason. Except in this case, it might actually be justified, seeing as Pac-Man's hungrily chasing after a ghost that's terrified for its afterlife while his friends look on in horror.

48. Cabela's Big Game Hunter: Pro Hunts

By now, I think it's been scientifically proven that hunting games with cool box art are a physical impossibility. UNLESS... maybe this trio of forest animals is about to crush four dopey-looking rednecks under the weight of their giant metal logo, and this photo was taken right as this vengeful bear was giving the murder weapon a hefty shove. Because then I'd be totally on board.

47. Bound by Flame

Whoever that giant demon man is, his gaze suggests that he's positively entranced by the metal codpiece of the warrior in the foreground. But forget the main character's three-piece plating on his sensitive groin - I'm more concerned about him falling victim to the 'You've got something on your breastplate' gag and instantly impaling his entire eyeline on his toothed chin-guard.

46. Petz Countryside

OK, so you've got the obligatory in-your-face dog licking a 2D/3D disclaimer (see back for details). Fine. Kittens in a trash can? Weird, but whatever. Suburban neighborhood in the distance? Forgive me, but I thought this was supposed to be a countryside. Panda and lion cubs chilling with domesticated animals in a park like it's no big deal? Now you've lost me, Ubisoft.

45. Crimes & Punishments: Sherlock Holmes

See that gun in Sherlock's hand - the weapon he never uses, lit in a way that makes no sense? That's just a red herring. Clearly, Watson had already axe-murdered this person before Sherlock even showed up. Case closed!

44. MXGP: The Official Motocross Videogame

Something about the ways these riders are situated just makes this feel... awkward. It's like watching two ex-lovers bump into each other at the grocery store, neither one of them knowing the right thing to say.

43. Toukiden: The Age of Demons

In Toukiden, you get to square off against some intimidating Japanese demons as you take on solo-friendly quests full of monster-hunting action. But Toukiden's box art would rather draw your attention to gaping patches of cloudy blank space, a large red K with an abnormal growth near its erect penis, and a sword causing a visually baffling explosion in a monster's arm. Isn't that what box art is supposed to do?

42. Murdered: Soul Suspect

Fun Ghost Fact #37: If you were killed by multiple gunshots, your incorporeal form comes with the complimentary upgrade of a see-through butt.