All things considered, box art is really the final barrier between a consumer and a game. For the most part publishers get it right, or near enough. At the very least, things are a lot better than they used to be. Everybody’s seen this one; it’s generally regarded as the worst video game box art of all time.
The mistake here, you see, was drawing the art with your eyes closed.
But people aren’t perfect. Mistakes are still made. Here are the most common.
The Magic Bullet
This one is fairly rare but it’s always annoyed me nonetheless. It’s a shame it’s attached to one of my favourite PSone titles.
Can you see it yet?
You see, there are four components to a cartridge: a case, an explosive primer, the propellant, and the projectile bullet itself. The only part of it that leaves the gun through the business end is the bullet; the other components are either reduced to ash or removed (often ejected) from the chamber to make room for the next cartridge.
Seeing a bullet in flight depicted as the entire piece – casing, bullet and all – is pretty jarring. It’s jarring because the only way you’d ever actually see an entire cartridge zipping across a room like this would be if somebody threw it.
You know, like Topper Harley.
In this day and age, where simple fact checking doesn’t even require a trip to the library, there’s no excuse for dumb mistakes. It’s befuddling how often people are content to push ahead with something without sparing a second to check it’s actually correct. Check out this cover for Pilot Down: Behind Enemy Lines.
The explosion would also likely obliterate his insides. But I digress.
It’s a bad piece of artwork in the first place but the problem here is that it’s annoyingly inaccurate. Why is this fighter pilot wearing this patch on his flight jacket?
This patch actually represents the 101st Airborne Division, the Screaming Eagles. The 101st Airborne is a light infantry division trained for air assault operations. You know, they’re the paratroopers in the likes of Band of Brothers and Brothers in Arms.
This guy is a fighter pilot, not a paratrooper.
Grasping at Straws
This is what happens when suits and spreadsheets get involved in the creative process.
“Listen, Karl? It’s Karl, right?
“It’s Mike, actually.”
“Mike, what we need from this game cover is something that resembles the DVD packshot. Can you do that?”
“Sure. Do we have all the necessary clearances?”
“Not as such, no.”
The end results only call attention to what your game doesn’t have.
Oh, Eddie, you so sly. Stop your hidin’!
Beverly Hills Cop, from Blast! Entertainment, was not released in the US. It shouldn’t have been released at all, to be honest. Blast! obviously couldn’t afford anything beyond the title itself because it has nothing in common with classic 1984 action comedy. Blast! couldn’t get a piece of Eddie Murphy so it went with a packshot without him. Without anybody, in fact.
Check out the car again. They even had to crop off the Mercedes logo.
For your reference, here are the two DVD covers they’ve cribbed this disaster from.
You must remember this, surely?
“Hold it. You ain’t goin’ no damn wheres.”
What the hell does this have to do with anything? Is this game about banjos? Beards? It’s like space Deliverance. It’s completely baffling.
Some designers clearly think if they plonk something zany on a packshot people will just have to pick it up. It may work, but ultimately you just end up mystifying everyone.
It’s kind of remarkable that these elite athletes do so well with such severe arm-related disabilities.
The thing about these ones is that they might be easy to miss the first time around, but once you see them you can’t unsee them.
Ah, Phoenix Games, you scamps. You see, Phoenix Games specialised in this kind of bottom-of-the-barrel dross. In fact, it wasn’t even bottom-of-the-barrel. It was the more the mould and scum that accumulated in the moist, dark area underneath the barrel. Phoenix Games’ crack team of plagiarists were always on the lookout for existing properties they could pillage. Sometimes they got pathetically desperate. Snow White and the Seven Clever Boys?
Boys don’t have beards. You know who have beards? Dwarves.
I don’t know how anybody could seriously hit Ctrl-S on something like this without dying a little on the inside. Phoenix Games didn’t limit itself to lifting from Disney though.
Look, it’s Land Before Copyright Infringement.
Using Stock or Stolen Images
You may have seen this one before. It’s a good one.
See the watermarks? They’re the watermarks stock photo websites apply to their picture previews so it’s difficult to rip them off. Quite the faux pas.
It’s cheap and lazy to use stock photos on video game packshots. To be fair, using watermarked images as placeholders is admittedly common. Nobody wants to waste cash on a whole bunch of images some bigwig may hate and request new ones. The mistake made here was sending it out pre-release. But hey, at least it was noticed before all the boxes were printed and it hit shelves, right?
Man, it would be super embarrassing to grab a watermarked image from somewhere, put it on your packshot, print it and sell the game before anybody caught it. Surely that’s never happened, right?