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Top 10 Video Game Cover Art

August 11, 2010

There was a time when the gaming industry didn’t thrive as well on the internet as it does now. I remember being a young lad and walking into a department store with a pocket full of lunch money I was suppose to use for… well… lunch. But no, I scrapped together every bit I could to blow it on my beloved games. “Back in the day” gamers had only one thing to go off of – the cover art. Regardless if the game sucked or not, it was the chance you took. This was the nature of the beast then, publishers had to sell you when you looked at the box. Video game reviews now pretty much spelled out the experience before you even bought the damn game. Who needs good cover art when you have the base game logo and 10+ good review scores on the sleeve to sell the consumer on? I say, “Fuck that”. These are the top 10 games that made me reach into my pocket and lay down money as soon as I saw… you guessed it; the cover. Even if the game absolutely sucked, THIS was how you sold a game “back in the day”!


Whats this? All of my favorite Nintendo characters in a single fighting game? From Nintendo? And its actually good? 4 Players? Gimme. NOW!


Intriguing cover eh? This caught my eye years ago and I still can’t “unsee” it to this day. The morbid cover made me turn the box over and think, “How the fuck does someone make an Alice in Wonderland game?” Well someone did, and it was actually good. Nothing sexier than a gal with a bloody chef’s knife and a blank stare.


Allied Assault really struck a cord with me. While it is one of the newest games of all the entries, it rightfully deserved a spot on this list. It broke a terribly popular trend of cereal box-sized PC game cases. Not only that, but the cover was just so damn inviting. You wanna go to war? Well guess what… Omaha Beach is where you’re going and this game did it first. The soldier looking back at you just shit his pants.


Laugh it up, but you bought it too. It may have not been the “Blue Version” but you definitely picked up a copy, if not BOTH of them. You were thinking in your age of innocence, “What is Pokemon?”. Turns out its crack in a cartridge. This was before colored portable gaming systems, but who gave a shit? It was another world in the palm of your hand. I did what the cover told me to do: caught them all. Gladly.


Back then, my PC could barely run this bad boy. My Voodoo video card still managed to pull through for me to enjoy this little piece of nerdy heaven. Whats not to like? There’s a bunch of Storm Troopers gunning you down while you were crossing sabers with a bad ass looking Sith. It was the first to truly deliver on the Jedi experience that some games are missing even NOW. This box art never did me any injustice.


For the record, this was THEE very first game purchase I made. Why? In the early 90’s there was nothing more hardcore than two guys wearing blue and red sleeveless shirts beating up gangsters WHILE simultaneously rescuing a hot blonde babe. 2 PLAYERS YOU SAY!?!? Sweet, now I can kick some ass with a buddy who is ALSO in a sleeveless shirt. High-five.


Before you jump down my neck about how Marvel vs Capcom 2 is godly and MvC1 is barely worth mentioning, hear me out. Imagine yourself as a kid walking through Funcoland (yeah… I said it, fuckin Funcoland) and you come across this fighting game. You do a double take, you rub your eyes, you squint and slap yourself to make sure you’re not dreaming. Spiderman is staring into Ryu’s soul and Ryu is returning the favor. Megaman is barely tall enough to take on Gambit. THESE MOTHER F-ers ARE GONNA KILL EACH OTHER. The greatest gaming crossover started here. The cover was a snapshot of Geekdom itself. Show some respect, this is your precious MvC2’s mum.


Yes, the game is godly. Yes, its STILL one of the best RPGs ever crafted. No, Square Enix will not hear your cries for a remake. But that’s besides the point. The cover shows one of the most iconic characters in all of gaming; and you don’t even see his face. But so what? The cliched spiky hair and giant ass sword doesn’t give it away? THIS is where that cliche came from. 3 discs, Cloud staring at the Shinra building, the emerald meteor, and the good ol’ Squaresoft logo. The cover itself is barely the tip of the iceberg compared to the grand odyssey that actually played out. Arguably, this timeless cover is gaming’s answer to the White Album. In terms of cover art okay? Don’t flip.


The same exact dragon logo is still used to this day for the MK franchise. In the eyes of every gamer, the red, yellow, and black color scheme BELONGED to Mortal Kombat moreso than it did to McDonald’s. Sick of throwing fireballs and simply knocking out opponents? This game said, “Don’t be a bitch, rip his head off and show it to him!” Ed Boon was the spark that ignited the video game violence controversy. How bad ass is Ed Boon? He’s still flipping Hillary Clinton the bird and making MK titles today.


This is the cover of the game that has made me the geek/dork that I am today. Honestly, I’ve never beaten it. I will not lie. But as a toddler, I never played with rattles or messed with coloring books. I played Zelda. I had no idea what was going on and I was likely bad at it. But the cover itself drew me in on a promise of infinite discovery and adventure. It could have been a cover to a novel. I ran around in the game world for hours on end, being the hero I wanted to be while I was still in diapers. Or maybe, it was the sweet “gold” cartridge that drew me into playing it so much. Either way, this cover and its contents undeniably shaped me to be the proud nerd I am today.

Honorable Mentions

– Seriously, fuck this game. Easily the worst fighting game ever created. But I bought it. Why? Shaq’s on the front cover striking mean looking kung fu poses THATS WHY! Think before you ask dumb questions.

– You played it. Don’t lie.

– It was a good game of course. Far superior than the arcade version. This was 3D fighting’s deathblow to 2D in the 32-bit era. The cover gave you the impression that you were gonna actually get beaten to death.  However, it didn’t make the list because it fails to live up to the legendary status of some of the ones mentioned on the list. It was tough for me to omit this one, trust me.

– It was strange to see such anime inspired characters hang with the likes of Donald Duck and Goofy. Somehow it still fit and worked so well together. It just didn’t make the cut because the cover has yet to age well seeing as it would’ve been the newest title on the list. But someday it WILL be looked upon and measured artistically. Just gotta give it time to stew. But its still definitely worthy of mention.

– Originally, this was to be #1 on my list. Everyone and their mothers knows of this title. Its a proven FACT that 80 in 10 Americans have this cartridge in their basement somewhere. But that was the problem, this list consisted of games that I purchased solely off of cover art. Since it was a pack-in game, you literally HAD to buy it. However, its still legendary in its own right. UN-FUCKIN-DENIABLY.

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