Staff Picks: Best Box Art
Before the days of the internet, gamers got their news through magazines. These magazines would tell you limited information on a very limited number of games. This left many gamers uninformed and without a clue to any titles that weren’t covered in the press. Companies knew this, which lead to games having designs to attract attention. All publishers tried, in their own way, to capture sales, but few were extremely successful. As gaming became an industry, gamers began to collect and display their games. With displaying becoming a factor, box art advanced greatly, offering vastly different designs. Now, with the internet, box art is able to branch out a bit and become more artistic, as well. With years of gaming behind us, we sat down and picked our favorite design of all time.
Rebecca’s Pick: Homefront
This pick was really, really tough for me. Partially because I don’t really pay too much attention to boxart, and partially because once I did start searching for a pick, it was hard to narrow it down to just one. Finally, I had it down to two: Homefront and SMT: Devil Survivor Overclocked, two box covers that had always caught my attention and stuck with me. However, after some brain wracking, I settled for the former, because it is so iconic I don’t think I will forget it (even with my terrible memory). Even though Homefront is a game I will never play, nor did I ever have the intention of playing it (I don’t play shooters as a general rule), the box art stuck with me from the very first advertisement I saw (I believe in EGM). In fact, the box art was enough to peak my interest in the game when I would see previews of it, and even though I didn’t plan to play it, I felt a sense of disappointment when it didn’t live up to its hype and reviews were mediocre. I think part of the reason it stands out is because it isn’t like most FPS covers (like Resistance 3, another one on my possible list); it isn’t just a scene of war or a bunch of nameless military grunts. Instead, it personalizes the game, in a sense (very apropos considering the game’s story). It’s striking visually, and it’s memorable. And that’s why it’s my pick for best box art.
James’ Pick: Kingdom Hearts
The Kingdom Hearts box is incredibly cliched (even when it released in ’02), yet is also one of the most beautiful box arts I’ve ever seen. Square is known for making these artsy covers, but I didn’t really know how they would incorporate Disney characters into a more serious game. Although in retrospective they kind of look a little awkward, they still blend incredibly well and the screenshots shown on the backside helped you know that you were going to go on a grand adventure. The way the light of the moon reflected off each character, yet still showed the faint colors of their clothing shows how much time was spent working on each detail. It literally shined brighter then other PS2 boxes due to it being printed on this shiny reflective paper. Even if you had no knowledge of the game or its premise, there would be something about the cover that would catch your eye. You might question why Disney characters are carrying weapons next to some Final Fantasy looking characters. The backdrop, or heart-shaped moon, could just have easily caught your attention. Regardless of the reason, something would cause you to pick up this box, and upon doing so, you would have seen one of my favorite box arts ever.
Liz’s Pick: SMT: Digital Devil Saga 2
The majority of video games I have played all sport box arts that I love. Choosing just one to talk about was tough, and it was down to Digital Devil Saga 2 and the Japanese Persona 3 box arts. In the end, it was the colorful and flip-side covers of Digital Devil Saga 2 that won out. Side A features a group of bloodied monsters against a city backdrop. For those who played the series, you know what these beasts truly are and the reason for the bloodshed. They are a tribe trying to reach Nirvana, a peaceful place unlike the Junkyard where the other seven tribes fight for the right to ascend to the heavens. The flip side of the cover showcases Sera and her “transformed” self (or, if you noticed, one of the monsters from the other side). It’s really the combination of both sides that is why I chose this cover as my favorite. I’ve always been fond of the artwork that Atlus uses for their MegaTen series; they can be either vibrant or have a dark overtone.
Grant’s Pick: Bayonetta (Japan)
I’m sure just about everyone has heard the expression “sex sells,” and this was how Bayonetta was originally marketed. Every region seemed to focus completely on her design, but had no interest in expanding upon the main concepts the game stood for. In the end, Bayonetta sold really well only in Japan, earning it GOTY status. As with all GOTY titles, the original art was featured with the standard budget re-release element. As a bonus for new supporters, however, the reverse featured a completely different box art design. The new design (shown above) not only captures subtle details, but also expresses the game’s unique style. Most importantly, the design captures the game so well it makes you wonder if sales would have been better if they had gone this route to begin with.
Michelle’s Pick: Heavy Rain (PAL)
While the Heavy Rain European Collector’s Edition box art is more on the simple side, it speaks volumes about the game. The oragami in the rain with the spot of blood is mysterious, and the effects add to the “heaviness” of it. The box art does a great job in conveying the mood of the entire game. The cover art is darkness, depression, and class all at once. It grabs attention without being “loud,” overcrowded, or even colorful. It goes to show that you do not need the box art to be in your face, so-to-speak, to be attractive. That is why I think it is a beautiful piece of art.
Eric’s Pick: Mass Effect 2 (CE)
I don’t remember the box art for games I played when I was younger, and I don’t see that many EU variants, so the ones that stand out to me are the current generation box art. Like the Dead Space box art with the floating hand, inFAMOUS just because Cole looks badass on it, and Resistance 3 with the Chimera and the city backdrop as the teeth. Those are all great, but my favorite one by far is the Mass Effect 2 Collectors Edition box art. The sleeve that covers the game’s case shows a beaten up N7 suit with claw marks and blood coming out, which looks amazing; if that wasn’t enough, the tin case that the game comes in shows Commander Shepard kneeling down in the shadows, in full body armor, holding his rifle, looking like a badass. The box art itself was the only reason I paid the extra $10 for the Collector’s Edition. It’s definitely something I would display as a poster if they ever made one that looked like this. Like Michelle said about the Heavy Rain box art, it’s simple but shows you the type of battle in store for you in Mass Effect 2.
Sebastian’s Pick- Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
As one of the few RPG’s on the Nintendo Gamecube, Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance is arguably the best one in my opinion. The reason I chose it as my favorite boxart is because it’s a beautifully drawn montage of many of the key characters, yet it also depicts a war at the same time, something that you will not see on other Fire Emblem boxarts. It’s very reminiscent of Star Wars cover art, and for that, it’s my number-one pick.
Brittany’s Pick- Resistance: Fall of Man
Resistance: Fall of Man is my box art pick for the symbolism and art. I am a fanatic of games that glamorize or revolve around political conspiracy, political revolutions, or the destruction of humanity. While those stories tend to be rather cliché, I think what draws a person in is the box art. Resistance: Fall of Man‘s box art is amazing for just this reason. I L-O-V-E the chimera skull sporting the army helmet, since the storyline is about humanity reclaiming their lives from this infectious species. There is no bigger and booming symbolism of war than seeing a soldier’s helmet nestled upon the enemy in a war-torn environment. Resistance‘s use of location in their name plate is always amazing to me, especially in Fall of Man with Big Ben in the middle of the title. Although I would have preferred to see the war-torn background maybe consist of Big Ben or something more controversial for the United Kingdom, regardless, the box art does an amazing job in conveying the gruesome disaster that was unleashed on humanity. When I look at the title, one thought keeps floating through my head every time: “‘Chimeras, coming to a city near you.” I think it is a great idea that coincides with the themes and works well for the Resistance storyline.
[Top Image Credit: Deviant Art]