Box art is a lost, well, art for lack of a better word. There was a sense of wonder to them back in the day. For example, let’s look at the Atari 2600. Nine times out of ten the box art looked phenomenal, but of course, this didn’t translate well into the game itself. Misleading or not, at least companies gave their artists —or marketing teams— more leeway when it came to designing their covers. It made video games feel like legit pieces of art. I’m in the mentality now where I want to display my favorite games around my office area, but am a little ashamed to do so due to bad covers. It’s been atrocious ever since the Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii era.
Fortunately, there are still some covers that amaze me, but they’re just few and far between. One of the revivals I’ve been seeing pop up lately is the return of steelbook cases. They’re limited, but don’t cost extra. This may be incentive alone to get more people pre-ordering. For instance, Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age’s steelbook case is gorgeous. Just look at it! Then take a glance at the standard edition and you’ll weep — looks like placeholder art. Speaking of, a lot of games on this list look like that. So enough artistic jibber jabber. Let’s break down why these fifteen Xbox 360 covers are so appalling to me. And believe me, this is just the start.
15 Bomberman: Act Zero
If there's any character that doesn't need a gritty reboot, it’s Bomberman. He's demonstrably cute compared to his transformation in Bomberman: Act Zero. It's a truly revolting game, and it begins with this box. This thing on the cover just looks like a cheap Master Chief knock off. And why does he have chains? Is it implying he’s Konami’s slave, or is trying to go for a God of War look as well? I hate the name on the cover too. Why Bomberman: Act Zero? Is this what Bomberman looked like originally? What are they trying to sell me here? It’s just confusing as all hell. Not sure why the Xbox 360 became this bro console where series had to be reinvented for a tougher crowd, but Bomberman shouldn’t have been one of them.
14 Harry Potter For Kinect
Oh, the age of motion controls. What an era of garbage that turned out to be. It was like developers and marketing teams got together to play mad libs. One side of the room tossed out a license while the other side just added Wii, Move, or Kinect. That's the only thing I can imagine happening with Harry Potter for Kinect. That’s right. It’s not even Harry Potter Kinect. Bad name aside what is with this cover? The camera is off base, tilting the world at a slant for crying out loud. What am I drunk? Is that a hint at the only way this game can be enjoyed? Not to mention Harry and Hermione look confused. This is so horrendous I would think it was a cheap Chinese bootleg if I didn't know any better.
13 Batman: Arkham City - Game Of The Year Edition
Okay I've dogged on enough bad games so let's get back to some good ones. Batman: Arkham City is my favorite game in that trilogy, or quadrilogy (depending on who you talk to). Fantastic story with phenomenal voice acting and brutal combat that was an addictive dance. I never cared for the original cover though, and the Game of the Year edition just amplified my distaste. Look we get it. You're an amazing game that was reviewed well, but put stuff that on the back of the box. It looks tacky on the cover. A little blinding too. Like Resident Evil 6, I am thankful for a good meme run though. Take a look at this one and bow down to its majesty. I learned it could have been worse for the official release.
12 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Skyrim is still one of the best games of all time, but it and its predecessor, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, have terrible cover art. Okay, so it’s a black background with a logo. Like I said above with Final Fantasy, this looks like generic placeholder art. Stuff like this is given to retailers all the time to advertise a game before anything official is out just to sell pre-orders. That’s fine, but when that thing becomes the official art, well, that’s just plain lazy. I miss the days of a box art selling me on a product. Yes, it is misleading at times, but the box art is where the journey begins. It’s the first thing a consumer will see before embarking on an adventure. What Skyrim sells me on is complete blackness. Cool…
Insomniac is such a great developer, and I thought they could do no wrong until FUSE came out. The initial teaser trailer looked like it was going to have the same zany attitude as Ratchet and Clank. Then it was transformed into a more bleak, realistic shooter that's not great. Now I’m not a fan of just putting characters on the cover especially if they are just CG renditions, but it would have been better than this alternative. Why would you want the heads out? They’re not completely gone either. It’s like they were cropped wrong, no one noticed, and it was sent off to print as if everything was fine. Also, that’s a lot of orange. Makes me thirsty for a Gatorade. Was that the plan all along?
10 Infinite Undiscovery
Square Enix really has a knack for coming up with God-awful names, don't they? This title suggests an open world of adventure with infinite possibilities. Wouldn’t it be better to post explorers on like a big map, or something? You know, something bright and vibrant. Instead, they went with a deep black background with a vortex sucking up a building that looks like a combination of the Eiffel Tower and the Arc De Triomphe. It creates a sense of doom contrary to the title. Plus it kind of just looks like a screenshot. Who'd want to buy this game based on that? Is it for that bro crowd I mentioned earlier? Not much else to say other than shame on you Square Enix. Enough said.
9 Deadliest Catch: Sea Of Chaos
Surprising no one, Deadliest Catch: Sea of Chaos is abysmal to play. The game isn't the issue here nor is the box art itself. For such a bad game the cover is kind of funny. I dig it. However, that is until I found out it's a blatant rip-off of another game. Here's the box art for Call of Duty 2. Am I crazy, or does it look familiar? Now I may be stretching things a bit, but both covers have a dude screaming at the player to the right of the box. Had this been published by Activision I could see why the marketing team wanting to reuse the art as an homage, or something. Not saying that would be okay, but again I'd understand. This isn't the same publisher though so it's just a bad copycat. A funny copycat, but disgraceful nonetheless
Does anyone even remember this game? I had to look it up before I figured out this was a spiritual successor to Black on PS2. Black was like 'gun fetish: the game' and Bodycount continues this tradition albeit in a more bland way, which all begins with the cover. It’s an oddly colored gun broken against glass with some other guns in the background. I'm at a loss as to what the message is here. Makes me think it had a body against the glass before it was recalled due to controversy. I guess that would make more sense? As it is now, both the cover and the game remind me of those generic video games you see on TV shows. I can see the cast of Big Bang Theory talking about this now. Ugh, just threw up in my mouth a little.
7 Resident Evil 6
Confession time. I nearly gave Resident Evil 6 a perfect score when it originally launched in 2012. I thought it was a fun thrill ride, but after replaying it last year, I learned of my insanity. Rose-tinted glasses — or something like that. Enough about my sins though let’s get to this box art. Purple with the number six sketched out in goo. It's boring, but there's more to it. Well after the game launched the Internet pretty much exploded when someone figured out it looked like a girl giving a giraffe a blowjob. If you haven’t heard that before I dare you to look at that box art above and not see it. Sure you have to squint your eyes, but it’s pretty dang surreal. And uh, well, I think I rest my case.
6 Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
I have so many crazy feelings about The Phantom Pain, and they all centers on the controversy between Hideo Kojima and Konami. The box art is one of many gripes. I do love how five is represented as the Roman numeral 'V' and that it also looks like an exclamation point. That’s brilliant, but putting the game’s model of Snake looking to the side is just unacceptable. Seeing Snake look wistfully to the West is both sad and symbolic. I kind of get the intention, but the cover should have been treated with more dignity. I could say that about the entire game though. Kojima’s vision was slashed, and the game is clearly unfinished. Who knows what really happened, but either way Konami is still on my short list.
5 Call Of Duty: Black Ops III
Deadliest Catch: Sea of Chaos was a blatant rip-off of Call of Duty 2, but the series is also guilty of copying. For example, let’s look at the sub-series of Black Ops. Every release just makes the soldier in the center of the box more lit up. How lazy can you get? I’m picking on Black Ops III because of the copy and paste mentality, but make no mistake; they’ve all been bad since Modern Warfare. The first four Call of Duty games all have an air of majesty to them. They try and tell a story, but after Modern Warfare it just became about one soldier, or a face. Now my shelf is aligned with a bunch of faces staring at me like I’m a serial killer, or something.
4 Silent Hill HD Collection
Ach! Mein Eyes! I feel like some unholy ghost has just blinded me. I could try and dissect who this woman is and why she looks like a ghost, but there’s a simple reason. Konami was too cheap to pay for more colored ink on the box. They were too stingy to put any money into this project whatsoever. The included games are hidden away at the bottom corner of the box as if they are extras. Not to mention the “HD” ports look like garbage with bugs aplenty. How can playing the PS2 versions look better than the new consoles? It’s like the collection team had a budget of $100 and a note from Konami saying good luck. Just when exactly did Konami become Mr. Krabs from SpongeBob SquarePants?
3 Soldier Of Fortune: Payback
Speaking of other publishers I’ve already reamed on. Activision, buddy, what the hell are you doing? I’m not saying one company can’t publish multiple first-person shooters, or more specifically war-themed games, but come on. At least try to sell your game if you’re going to bother sinking money into. The soldier is cropped out worse than the gang from FUSE. It's just a body with a gun blasting away bullets. Also, it may be just because I’m used to more realistic models with today's hardware, but that soldier does not look good. The gun does, but the actual character looks blurry. Everything just seems off about the entire design. I would think this was a bootleg if it wasn't for the Activision logo.
2 Duke Nukem Forever
Even though Duke Nukem Forever is collectively known as a bad game I will admit the box art at least tried to tell a story. We have the titular character on the front, smoking his trademark cigar, with a pistol locked and loaded for combat. In the background is chaotic fire and squid aliens ready for a beating. There’s confidence here, which would have been great if this were good, but the cockiness rubs me the wrong way since it’s terrible. Okay now, look at the angle of Duke as if he is looking down on us. Also, take note at his crotch’s position. Do you think he is above telling the player to suck his dick? If you do then count yourself lucky since you’ve clearly never touched this game. Bravo.
1 Final Fantasy XIII
It’s not just third-tier games in Square Enix’s library that get the box art shaft. Their flagship series, Final Fantasy, also took a dip when it came to Final Fantasy XIII. When I took on this list, it was the first game I thought of as disgraceful. And hey, I actually like the game itself. Not the best, but I did rank it at number twelve in another list of mine. Whether the game is good or bad is still debatable, but this box art is atrocious. A cover comprised of white, gray background with a tiny logo and CG model on it. Did you pay a High School student who just learned Photoshop to make this for you Square Enix? The mighty can certainly stumble. I won’t say fall, because it’s only the trilogy of Final Fantasy XIII games that look bad. The rest of the series’ covers look pretty good, or at least better than this. That’s a topic for another day though.