You know the old saying “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”? Well, shame on me because I’ve been fooled many times by video game box art. Back in my day, we had these buildings which contained video tapes and video games available to bring home for three days in exchange for a hefty fee. For those of you who don’t remember, it was basically like walking through an Indiana Jones temple in terms of epicness. Tens of games covered the wall, all enticing. Never having played any of the games on the shelves, you only had box art to persuade you to bring home a title.
Here are six games with ambitious artwork.
6 – Super Off Road
Super Nintendo is still the home of my favorite racing game, Top Gear. Loving the 16-bit thrills Top Gear provided, I returned to the video store to find another racing game. It was going to be hard to impress me after racing awesome sports cars around the world. That’s when I came across Super Off Road. It promised more awesome races with the added bonus of monster trucks! How could I go wrong with renting that one? Shame on me.
5 – College Slam
Sports games were always a snore. You only rented a sports game if you got to the video store too late on a Friday night. College Slam was different, though. The cover featured a mutant basketball that was obviously out to get revenge on the sports arena. In reality, it looked and played just like every other basketball game ever. Shame on me.
4 – Adventure
Defeating dragons, mastering mazes, and conquering castles certainly seems like an adventure. The second you hit power on the Atari, you realize the box was horribly misleading. Your visions of a valiant hero shift to a lone pixel on a gray screen. You will never lead the battle of your dreams. You realize you have met your doom. Shame on me.
3 – Iron Sword II
It’s easy to fall for the same trick a second time. The cover of Iron Sword: Wizards & Warriors II depicts Fabio wielding a deadly sword in the midst of exploding volcanoes. Okay, so anyone who fell for this once kind of had it coming to them. Immediately, you should be questioning why he’s fighting volcanoes with a sword. Then, you should wonder how he is surviving the toxic fumes. But, alas, I own this game. Shame on me.
2 – Mega Man 2
The box art for the first Mega Man game is often the subject of ridicule (you’ve seen it, right?). I always thought the second game looked more promising. A lone ranger jumped out of Tron and is battling it out with a super villain on a rooftop. It’s actually a pretty sleek cover. The game was fun, but of course the graphics were exactly the same as the first Mega Man. Shame on me.
1 – Pac-Man (Atari 2600)
Somehow, the rough draft artwork ended up on the box without anyone noticing. Obviously, the Pac-Man drawing is a placeholder. Compare the box with the final art on the cartridge. Now, Pac-Man is leaving the ghosts in his dust instead of falling into their trap. He’s also in the same drawing style. Oh, and did I mention he grew legs and is chasing after Pez? That never happens in the game. Shame on me.
Honorable Mention – Virtua Fighter (32X)
I would like to recognize a game that truthfully warns players of how awful its graphics are. Virtua Fighter for 32X has nothing to hide. It knows the graphics are awful, it knows the 32X is a total failure, and it knows it isn’t fooling anyone. If only Virtua Racing had offered the same honesty, I wouldn’t have bought a 32X. Shame on me.
Did we miss some of your favorite games with ambitious artwork? Tell us about it in the comments below!