You've seen cover comparisons before, of course, but have you ever wondered exactly what makes the Japanese versions so preferable? Or why gamers are constantly complaining about the mangled translations? We did, and after scouring through hundreds of examples, we discovered these nine undeniable trends.
Game covers are usually pretty predictable. Is it a shooting game? Put a gun on the front! Is it a cartoon action game? Make sure to include awacky animalwith saucer-sized eyes! How about a kids' game? Eh, just throw together a bunch of shiny, candy colors.
In Japan, they take chances. Strange and wonderful chances. The kids' title is marketed with images of healthy food and kitchen utensils. The cartoon actioner gets a photo of a foot. Yes, a foot. The shooter is sold with nothing more than a naked man, curled into a decidedly un-badass position.
Ironically, these bizarre scenes are actually much more accurate to the game experience than their Western counterparts.
Guess what? Having fun is not necessarily a bad thing. Being happy is sometimes rather pleasant, really. Japanese developers understand this mysterious truth, but while they keep trying to export their eternally sunny characters to us, we just keep transforming them into gloomy, moody tough guys. And when we send over our own short-tempered mascots, they're forced to give them a makeover, lest our incessant misery rub off on any innocent Japanese children.
Hmm. In this case, we'll take the adorable Pikmin family, posing and waving, over the terrifying taxidermal lineup on the Japanese cover.
Ah, the disembodied head. So helpful. So necessary! Without those inexplicably hovering faces, how would we ever know whether the game has characters or not? Without that eye contact, how would we ever be convinced to buy?
Japanese box art assumes that things like lightsabers, spaceships, fighter planes and school girls will be enough. How na%26iuml;ve.
Eternal Sonata or Trusty Bell: Chopin's Dream? You have to admire that direct of a title, but points off for the lazy, probably last-minute addition of a drifting cloud head. Hey everyone, there's a girl in here!
Okay, you'd think this would be simple. If you've got a game about dragons, you put friggin' dragons on the cover. Zombies? Zombies! Superheroes? Superheroes!
If you've got a game featuring both fantasy adventure and knockoff Bejeweled gameplay, you highlight the former and not the latter. If you've got a game about sweaty, shirtless men wrestling in their backyards, you lie and put a picture ofhalf naked womenon the front. Simple, see?
Whatever the hell your game is about, do not emphasize two balding middle-aged men on the box. If you must, at least don't force us to stare into the depths of every scar and wrinkle. Yuck.
What's up with the guys on the left? Are they the unpaid interns for the guys on the right?
If we want gaming to reach the depth and maturity of cinema or literature, it should be about more than swords, guns, blood, violence and nonstop action. Often, however, gaming is about more - the Western packaging is just too afraid to let you know.
Japanese box art, however, isn't afraid to show off the game's sensitive side. Princess Farah joins the Prince of Persia cover. Ico and Yorda hold hands. And while Final Fantasy X International didn't release in the US, do you really think they would have kept the same cover if it had? Hurry, give Tidus something sharp!
Must our box art always scream at us? If the artists don't add enough explosions, fangs and protruding female bosoms, are the games somehow invisible to us and our puerile minds? In Japan, understatement is okay. Possibly encouraged, based on the number of examples below.
Yes, we know Link is in this game, Japanese box art. Thank you.
A lot of game packaging in Western countries comes across like a desperate flea market. If they cram as much crap into the tents as possible, surely you'll find at least one item you like, right? So if the pretty lady on the cover of Heavenly Sword isn't enough, maybe you'll be convinced by the screaming head or the vaguely viewed fat man in the background. If the title Final Fantasy isn't enough, perhaps some cosplayers and airships will get you to purchase. Please?
Japanese packaging is more confident, usually sticking with one strong and persuasive image.
Okay, so maybe the flea market mentality is universal. At least when Japan does it, they go all the damn way. Seriously, is there any Disgaea character NOT on that rainbow spectrum below?
Our best guess? Either the companies had a lot of extra art lying around... or somebody felt they'd better change something if they wanted to justify their continued employment. Blue to red, and another job well done!
Jul 29, 2008
A look back at the games that fuglied up store shelves the most last year.
Hilarious printing errors definitely not concocted by our art team.
The blandest, dullest and all-around boring-est covers we could find.
It's not just bad, it completely misses the point.