Stare into the abyss
Each and every year, we like to subject ourselves to a special form of torture: diving headlong into a pool of abhorrent box art. Like Scrooge McDuck, we paddle through this bottomless vault of crappy imagery and incoherent portraits, searching for the absolute worst of the bunch. And let us assure you, dear reader, we've found the most repugnant cover art 2015 had to offer. These pieces of "art" turned stomachs and burned the eyes of all who beheld them - and according to Amazon, the majority of this shovelware was released last year. Hey, if it's the reputation of Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos on the line, who's to argue?
They say you should never judge a book by its cover, but when that cover makes you burst out laughing uncontrollably, there may need to be an exception. We're not saying that's definitely going to happen here, but Well, actually, it probably is. Sorry.
25. WildLife Camp
Someone told the artist "The animals would look cuter if you made their eyes bigger", and he was more than happy to prove them wrong. The glassy stares on the faces of these poor creatures implies that this may actually be a taxidermy diorama, humans and all. It seems that developer(?) 'B. Alive' was far too late.
24. Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader
If you have to ask, the answer is no. You don't need an image of Jeff Foxworthy smirking in front of a cheap chalkboard to tell you that. And I'd like to think that even a 5th grader wouldn't neglect to fix the atrocious punctuation in a sentence like 'ALL NEW CLASSES ALL NEW CATEGORIES, ALL NEW QUESTIONS!!!'
When you're designing aliens that are clearly meant to delight children, you must walk a very fine line between 'goofy-looking' and 'absolutely horrifying'. Whoever rendered that purple fellow's bug-eyed, anguished grimace clearly forgot to maintain that delicate balance.
Great. Icy Russian lettering overlaid on a crumbling hallway that somehow opens up into a dying forest. This tells me everything I need to know. Zero confusion here.
21. Mahjong: Halloween Stories
Its probably just me, but when I think of Halloween, I always think about long-locked princes carrying magic pumpkin staves, often with plump, giant-pin-wielding mice resting upon their shoulders. Ah, wait a moment! This box art proves that there are at least two people in this universe with an incredibly limited grasp on Halloween iconography. If not for the bucktoothed jack-o'-lantern logo screaming in your face (or the bizarre, lone jack-o'-lamp hanging from the tree), there's no way you'd associate this game with October 31st.
Seeing this mess of lethal weaponry, bullet casings, and clay pigeons doesn't actually evoke the idea that this game has anything to do with shooting. All I can picture is one of those hidden object puzzlers, which asks you to find the rabbit's foot, pineapple, and pearl necklace cleverly nestled between the lethal weaponry littered across this table. If this is some kind of outdoor action FPS for 1-4 players (three stars), then I'm not sure why this is named after the most annoying, non-interactive part of any shooter.
19. NBA Live 16
One of two things is happening here. Either some prankster with courtside seats hurled a giant grey medicine ball (branded with the EA Sports logo) at Russell Westbrook as he was trotting past, and this photo captures the precise moment that he's screaming in pain after the unexpected projectile pegged him in the stomach/groin. Or, Westbrook - like so many sports game cover athletes before him - is yelling at the top of his lungs to help focus his ki and transform into a Super Saiyan.
18. Fairy Kingdom
This fella's proportions make him appear so young, yet that five-o'-clock shadow says otherwise. He also seems remarkably calm about the sky behind him opening up into a dark rift of evil incarnate - or perhaps he already knows what madness awaits this kingdom, judging by the lobotomized expression on his face and the lifelessness of his hollow stare.
17. Weather Lord: Following the Princess - Collector's Edition
Hold on a second: what's with the little fairy up in the corner? Did she get lost on her way to the Fairy Kingdom cover? Why is the background nothing more than a Windows 95 screensaver? And why does that goblin king in the foreground look like he just walked in on an extramarital affair?
16. Garfield Kart
Let us quickly move past the sadness that this game physically exists in the world, and instead focus on the immediately obvious flaws here. For instance, note the overzealous use of the blur effect to Garfield's right, instantly throwing your visual cortex into disarray at the impossibility of this photograph. See how the wall that Garfield and Jon have nearly careened into has arrows pointing in the opposite direction, implying that Lakitu is currently hounding all three of these idiots for driving the wrong way. And behold how the sparks flying from beneath the lasagna-lover's car convey the kind of friction inherent to sawblades on metal, rather than rubber on pavement.
15. Big City Adventure: Barcelona
I'm sure no one in this family regrets letting Little Timmy bring his acoustic guitar to Barcelona, the land of strange, helmet-esque architecture. Meanwhile, Sally seems to be gripping onto a live lizard that's trying to eat her seahorse-encrusted shirt, while their dad silently contemplates if this is his moment to divert the family's attention towards something before bolting in the other direction.
14. Gnomes Garden
Clearly, some fledgling art intern was practicing lighting effects for what a green glow hovering at neck level might look like. Through a clerical error, this doodle was submitted to the proverbial presses as the final box art - but not before adding a shoddy effect to the word 'Gnomes' that makes it look like it's somehow burning with snot-green fire.
13. Contract with the Devil
"HEY KID YOU WANNA' MAKE A CONTRACT WITH THE DEVIL? MY NAME'S SMELLYWINKS, THE S&M GOBLIN WHO HANGS OUT BY THE DOCKS!! PULL ON MY DISGUSTING NOSE RING AND I'LL GRANT YOU THREE WISHES!!"
12. Mahjong: Wolf's Stories
There are way too many anthropomorphic wolves wearing diapers for this to just be a game about Mahjong. Think about how many anthropomorphic wolves wearing diapers you need for the typical game of Mahjong and I guarantee it's less than three. I'm not even certain this is the correct cover for this game. And apparently, if your cub's old enough to wear a shirt, then they're old enough to crawl into a boat completely unsupervised.
I enjoy the symmetrical placement of disinterested women staring at their own shoulders. Everything else here is garbage. It's obvious Joe Moviewood popped on over to MyStockPhotos dot com (aka Google Images) and pulled down a grabbag of Hollywood lookalikes. Either that, or this game/movie/whatever follows the story of a grieving, orange-clad widow who's being chased by a ballerina in an old-timey automobile with a gladiator in the sidecar and a wolf with a tribal face tattoo. She's forced to choose between two potential love interests: bootleg Bela Lugosi giving a piggy-back ride to a Lara Croft lookalike, or the Grim Reaper himself.
10. Detective Riddles: Sherlock's Heritage 2
I honestly don't know why this cover is on this list because it's obviously the most amazing thing I've seen all year. So let's try and unpack what's going on here: the name 'Sherlock's Heritage 2' implies some sort of Holmesian influence. So, what, is the monkey Sherlock Holmes? Probably still would've been better than Elementary. Amd wait a second, what's up with Dr. Watson back there...
9. Fury of the Gods
Looks like poor Zeus might've dislocated his shoulder there while playing with that lighting. In fact, all the muscles in his upper body seem to have convulsed out of place, which could explain the panicked look in the thunder god's eyes.
8. Greed: Forbidden Experiments
On a cover as bland and generic as this, the artist still took time to add a couple of rib cage protrusions below the woman's chest. Why? You also have to wonder how she's standing straight up when the entire room is tilted, whether or not that spider drone is friendly, and what the deal is with those green tentacles that are dangling from the ceiling and slithering on the floor.
7. Green Ranch
Are... are those... velvet blue jeans? Look at how soft and smooth they are, that's definitely not denim. Velvet is also a much easier fabric to bedazzle, and it's clear our humble farmer has a passion of fake diamond studs. Maybe that's just some exaggerated stitching, but I like my version better.
6. My Paper Boat
Forget My Horse and Me 2 or My Baby: First Steps - which are, somehow, actual video games - this is where the real action is at: My Paper Boat. You know exactly what you're getting: a paper boat, and you know exactly what you need to do: DOWNLOAD. The two company logos in the top corners suggests more than zero people worked on this game, which I find hard to believe.
Nothing about this damn box makes any damn sense. Weve got an elephant running around up top, lightning zipping all over the place, and some mysterious, multi-colored cones. Then there's the name: Brownies. Not 'Strategy Wizard Commander' or 'Brownies: Magical Baking Adventure' or something - anything - just 'Brownies'. The one thing that's for certain here is that Mr. Brownies has the thousand-yard stare of a man who has seen too much.
4. Save Halloween: City of Witches
This is someone's ideal woman. Just... just think about that for a second. Huge chest, thick legs, and spindly arms that taper off into the tiniest wrists imaginable, the bones in which would clearly shatter under the weight of those garish hands. This witch also thought to pack her cash register onto her broomstick so she could... nope, there's no possible explanation for that detail that would make any semblance of sense.
3. Where are My Pipes?
That woman needs to worry less about the pipes and figure out where her legs have gone. Maybe she can ask the smug beaver to stop acting like a jackass and help her look. Is that beaver supposed to be leaning on something, or is it waiting for a high five that's never going to happen?
2. Who Am I?
Hideous. Simply hideous. The generic-as-hell background gets a C- passing grade, but the three goonish characters here are all murder on the eyes, particular the 'surgically altered Cro-Magnon' look the woman seems to be going for. I can't really blame her for the stunned look in her horribly rendered eyes, though: there seems to be the barrel of a modified handgun poking into the right side of the frame, pointed directly at her while Stumpy the Cop and Briefcase Dog stand idly by. None of this even begins to answer the question of who I am. As for the logo itself, it appears to be suspended by chains and illuminated by three affixed lamps - but at a glance, it just looks like a milk-colored Lego block with nipple-shaped black pegs atop it.
1. Kicking Bones
Ohhhhhhh boyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy. There's such a blatant disregard for readability or cohesion here that the Kicking Bones cover becomes a work of abstract art. To comprehend such a disjointed masterpiece, let us examine each piece of this unintelligible puzzle. There's the unsightly, 3D rendered imp, whose skin texture somehow looks grubby and shiny at the same time, and seems to have some manner of golf club, hockey stick, or ornate cane lodged in his calf and/or rectum. There are the three copy-and-pasted skulls placed so close together that the artist's laziness is almost palpable, with two of them given blur effects like they're inexplicably flying through the air. Now turn your attention to the nondescript stuffed animal just begging to be hugged, clearly placed in such a way as to cover the disturbingly human-looking silhouette that remains in the background art. With no rhyme or reason whatsoever, you've got a pair of skeleton's legs sprouting up in the middle of this chaotic mish-mash of unrelated objects. And none of it - none of it - conveys anything about what this game is about, or how it might play. Bravo, Virtual Mobile Games GBR. Bravo indeed.