Because you’re reading this, you probably view gaming as one of if not the greatest form of entertainment in the world. Part of the games industry’s success is due to the inclusive nature of its products and incredible range where everyone can find something they would want to get lost in. Going to a store to look for a game, you find yourself immersed in a sea of shiny covers all boasting their right to be put on your shelf at home. Game box art is the first factor in creating interest. As much as we’d all hate to admit it, we do judge games based on their covers.
There is something electrifying in the air when game developers show off the cover art to their games. They typically feature the player-character in some sort of epic action pose that announces their presence to the gaming world and also is occasionally telling of who they are. Often, these pieces of key art are showcased during press conferences and events.
Of course, game covers can have a tendency to look much different in person and some can even go so far as to alter your perception of a game when they have something wrong with them. The following list goes over the most heinous crimes in video game covers. From game artwork inconsistencies, spelling mistakes, to the completely awkward covers that don’t actually sell the product that well at all, we’ve got them covered.
25 007: Long Face
When the Nintendo 64 released, one video game took the world by storm and forever changed the way First-person shooters were played on consoles. That game was 007: Goldeneye, a game adaptation of the film of the same name. The cover of the game shows Pierce Brosnan’s Bond holding a gun, a helicopter, Bond running from an explosion, and Natalya rounding out the left side. Curiously, the black and white image of bond holding a gun has the space between two of his fingers aligning perfectly with Brosnan’s mouth. It essentially creates the illusion that his mouth is substantially wider than previously indicated and he has a very, very long face. This blunder was quickly noticed, but nothing could be done for it as it is the central image in the sole key art for the game. May 007: Long Face live forever in gaming history!
24 Super Mario’s Super Galactic Mistakes
The ultimate subliminal message is also the craziest coincidence. On the front cover of Super Mario Galaxy, some letters have little stars in the corners to make the font sparkle. After all, this was the first mainline 3D Mario game for the Wii and they wanted it to be known loud and proud. Unfortunately, the letters that had the stars, when lined up in order of appearance are: “U, R, M, R, G, A, and Y” or “U R MR GAY.”
This caused no end of controversy lobbied against the game.
This story doesn’t end here though: the sequel, Super Mario Galaxy 2 did something similar with the stars, this time changing the letters to: “U, R, M, I, A, and Y.” When looked at in reverse, they spell: “YA I M R U” or, “Yeah, I am. Are you?” Another coincidence, or is Nintendo trying to say something?
23 Codpiece Destiny
That fidget-spinner looking logo on the cover of Destiny looks familiar. When looking at the Master Chief’s design from the Halo games, the armor on his codpiece is aesthetically similar to the final logo for the fateful game. It is understandable as the layout of the logo looks like it could easily be part of a futuristic suit of armor. The symbol is incorporated on a number of characters and gear in the main game as it is, so this is not really a stretch to assume that the origins of this symbol are from the crotch of Halo’s most iconic character. To add insult to injury, the first Destiny features three characters with their backs facing away from the front cover, which allows for players to put themselves into the game, Destiny 2 just shows their faces. Make up your mind, or just give us Cayde-6, Bungie!
22 Okami On Wii - © IGN?
IGN has a long history of being one of the focal points of entertainment news media for film and games alike. It is such a delight to see that they were given permission to sponsor the Wii version of Okami. Oh, what’s that; they didn’t? Well, then why is there a watermark for IGN on the Wii cover of Okami? As it turns out, this version was ported to the Wii from its original PS2 iteration. The marketing team used the cover art asset that IGN had in its image archive, who, in turn, got it from the original developers. That’s why we all get to enjoy the nice and not-so-subtle white IGN watermark on this primarily white game cover. Why in the world didn’t the Wii marketing team ask for the original asset from the original game’s release! Surely someone outside of the press had access to it!
21 Mega Maniac
“State-of-the-Art” and “High-Resolution Graphics” align to bring gamers Mega Man: one of the most incorrect and horrid video game covers of all time. Fans of Keiji Inafune will know instantly that this American-ized cover of the classic side-scroller is completely offensive to the vision of the developers at Capcom. Featuring a yellow and purple suit, this version of Mega Man’s covers sees the titular hero holding a gun. Yes, not an arm-cannon: a gun! Given the legacy of the series and the myriad of games that came after the first one, even die-hard fans in North America greatly prefer the original Japanese cover. From the expression on Mega Man’s face to the final look of his muscles and the really off-putting background castle, there is no one solution to fix the cover. Fortunately, the game is great!
20 Mario Kart: Luigi Imposter
The Nintendo Gamecube had one of the most popular racing games of the sixth console generation on it: Mario Kart: Double Dash. This beloved game brought the world of Mario Kart to life in new and incredible ways thanks to the power of the Gamecube and the proliferation of 3D titles into the mainstream. The game’s tagline was also on point, allowing players to team up for Twice the fun! This game is incredible…which is why the front cover is so troubling. Despite being barely visible, the “L” on Luigi’s hat is noticeably backward. Yes, this could be seen as a nitpick, but for Nintendo to make a mistake on the design of one of their most beloved characters is nothing short of tragic for the esteemed company. Fortunately, the game did not suffer from the same lapse of judgment.
19 Resident Evil: Revelaitons
Sometimes cover art for games can be a little wonky, but when was the last time you saw a cover for a game that was actually pretty great, only to spell the game’s title incorrectly? For the Nintendo 3DS version of Resident Evil: Revelations, the title is spelled correctly on the front and back, but the spine of the game features a misprint with all copies of the game’s original run spelled as “Resident Evil: Revelaitons.” That’s “Revelaitons”, not “Revelations.” The “I” should go after the “T”. Sometimes mistakes are excusable, but every OCD collector with an affinity for the spines of their games had an absolute field day when this mistake was first noticed. There are still many copies of this game and its infamous misspelling in circulation. It must have been quite the revelaiton for Capcom…wait a second…REVELATION.
18 Indiana Jones And The Floaters
Not feeling particularly inspired by the relatively interesting gameplay of the main game, the developers of Eric and the Floaters made a cover that is something special. What do you do when a company blatantly rips off one of your characters? Well, the Indiana Jones look-alike on the cover of this MSX game looks a little too on-the-nose but no one actually got sued over this. Can you believe it? It’s true. It showcases Dr. Jones awkwardly posing in the middle of a see of what can be classified as the aforementioned “floaters.” Nice name for villains. In the actual game, Eric wears a top hat with a green shirt, black suspenders, and pink pants, while trying to place bombs to destroy balloons with faces on them. In reality, it’s actually more of a discount and rebranded version of Bomberman. So, how did they get Indiana Jones out of it?
17 Flashy Pinball
The cover for Pure Pinball: American Pinball Reborn leaves a lot to be desired. For starters, the word “Pinball” is used twice in the game’s title…apparently, players needed to understand the game is about pinball. It makes sense in a way because the rest of the cover features four scantily clad women carrying weapons superimposed over a barely-visible pinball table.
The same image of these four women also exists in an impossible reflection on a pinball in front of them as well as in the background above them.
To sell the “American” part, an overly patriotic American flag is hung in the background of the women in the sky. It’s as if there were two concepts for the key art of the game and both managed to make the cut at the expense of the pinball! The “E” rating meanwhile, is just the icing on the cake.
16 BomberShock 2: Bioman
Ever notice that the main Big Daddy, Subject Delta, on the cover of Bioshock 2 looks a little familiar? The shape of his dive suit's mask has an unmistakable look about it. Yep, that’s because it bears a striking resemblance to Bomberman’s titular protagonist. The two vertical fasteners on Delta’s drive suit closely resemble Bomberman’s eyes where the pod atop Delta’s head also matches the one (albeit, a different color) on Bomberman. This doesn’t seem like much of a coincidence because of the time differentiation of the two characters in time and tone, but it does beg the question of why the artists modeled Delta much at all. Jack is never seen in Bioshock and Delta is rarely seen in this sequel. It would have made more sense to put a Big Sister on the cover. It is unlikely anyone will ever un-see Bomberman in this key art now.
15 Super Mario: Death Trap
One of the most universally recognized video game covers is without a doubt Super Mario Bros. on the NES. It is also among the most confusing covers around. We can clearly see that Mario is running very fast (likely to avoid lava) but is about to run right into a brick wall. To make matters worse for the famous plumber, a fireball is about to eliminate Mario. This cover is of poor designs as, despite showcasing some of what the game is like, it also portrays a fictional version that directly contradicts the way in which the game is played. Fortunately, this game was a new IP at the time and no one would have noticed this mistake until after they bought this stellar game.
14 Imagine Professional Photos
Imagine Babies is a Nintendo DS game that comes with an egregious cover that is low-budget and lazy on the marketing team at Nintendo and Ubisoft. The cover features a mother holding a baby superimposed over a pink rocking chair. That’s mine. It’s a decent enough cover. However, there are also four circles around the mother that photos of some more babies, a stuffed bear, and a couple of bottles. All four of these images feature very prominent watermarks, denoting that they actually belong to someone and thus the images were used without permission. The team probably didn’t care…you can even see a watermark reading: “iStockphoto” visibly over the two babies in the lower right circle. It’s as if someone fell asleep on the job. It can be costly to hire a photographer, but not if you’re a game developer as successful as Ubisoft.
13 Halo Fighter 5
Pairing the Master Chief opposite from Spartan Locke doesn’t make this Halo 5: Guardians cover stand out as an FPS. It makes it look more like a brawler game. We expected to see a fight between these two titans of evolved combat, but what we are treated to instead is a bland cutscene and lots of Locke talking about the Master Chief’s AWOL status. See that city in the background?
No such city with that exact architectural design exists in this game.
Sure, a good portion of this game is set on Sanghelios, but we never see a vista that quite matches this, so the entire key art of this game is ultimately a victim of that horrid marketing campaign asking players to “Hunt the Truth” about the Master Chief. No wonder very little information has come out about the follow-up thus far.
12 Is It M For "Comic Mischief"?
The ultimate in sultry games almost made the worse mistake ever…and still did. Gal Gun: Double Peace was given an “M” rating for Grown-Up Themes when it was released on the PlayStation 4. This pseudo visual novel utilizes a targeting system like most shooters but, instead of shooting, when fired, it arouses the schoolgirls in the game. This game epitomizes the creep-factor in modern video games.
Unfortunately, there was a massive printing mistake in the physical release cover of the PS Vita.
On the front cover, the Rating is indeed “M” as the game actually is, but the back says “E” for Grown-Up content. This simple mistake may not seem so bad to informed gamers, but for the uninformed, this would have been a massive headache.
11 Is That A Six?
The Resident Evil series is synonymous with horror. Since the series switched to the third-person over-the-shoulder perspective, the numbers of the games have all been stylized digits with a creepy undertone. Unfortunately for Resident Evil 6, the “6” in the title doesn’t exactly look like a traditional numerical value. Instead, we are witness to what appears to be a giraffe on the left of the “6” with what Kotaku described as “a pink slug.” It is important to note that the spider-webbing we see on the cover actually connects this giraffe and slug together as they are two distinct pieces. Now, the fact that this cover was so controversial (there’s nothing else on the cover for its original release), led to a complete redesign of the numbering system for Resident Evil VII: Biohazard, which featured Roman numerals.
10 White Grid
When thinking about karate, one thinks of a large open space, a particular uniform, and the kinds of belts that can be awarded for passing a certain training milestone. The highest honor is to achieve a Black Belt. It is awarded to the most disciplined and skilled participants. When making a game for Karate like Black Belt: The Mega Cartridge, you could easily assume that the cover would feature either an instructor or student in a cool Karate action pose with an excited expression on their face. Instead, we get a white grid with the foot of an off-cover participant performing an animated kick into the void of the white grid. The mistake in this cover is the clear lack of understanding the artist had of the game.
9 Splinter Storage
The original Splinter Cell is the start of what is widely regarded as one of the best stealth series, able to stand up with the Metal Gear series. It is also the game in the series that has a confusing mistake on the back of the PlayStation 2 box. Back in the sixth generation, the PS2 and original Xbox games showed the memory required to save the game as Blocks as opposed to Megabytes or Gigabytes that we use today. Splinter Cell was supposed to be labeled with a particular amount of blocks, but instead, listed its Megabyte count instead as 493 MB. This greatly confused gamers at the time, who believed that their overall storage space was not large enough. Sony even had to issue a statement to ensure players that they had enough room on their systems to save the game.
8 XCOM: Fully Classified
The cover of The Bureau: XCOM Declassified is difficult to properly describe because most of the interesting details have been blacked out like a classified document. Of course, this blacked-out version is the slipcover. It is how you would see the game on store shelves, and is ultimately the first impressions many would have of the game.
To actually see what the actual cover looks like, you would have to remove the slipcase to see an agent standing in front of an alien invasion.
While it is clever, it also feels like a missed opportunity, especially because it is rare that slipcases can be removed from shrink-wrapped video games in the store. As a first impression, this could definitely send mixed signals to players. For all this secrecy, the game itself was regarded as average at best.
7 Brawn, No Brain
Street Warrior is a video game that tells the beloved and highly homogenized tale detailing what it is like to fight on the streets. This cover portrays the game as a story of two thugs with disproportionate abs and their awkward canine companion.
They await in back alleys ready to take the lunch money of anyone who exits for an hour break.
The awkward stance of these two guys along with the 7+ rating makes this game feel more like a direct-from-Burger King release than anything to take seriously. The game itself is about as slow and boring as it could get with slow gameplay and horrid music. The best advice is to do what the cover is already telling you: avoid this one at all costs!
6 Fatal Frame: Based On A True Story
Did you know that Fatal Frame is based on a true story? Don’t get too excited: it’s not. Despite this, the entire cover of the game does its very best to convince you that it is. The game has players taken the role of Miku, who, armed with a camera, “sets out to solve the mystery of her brother’s disappearance.” This part of the back-of-the-box description is believable, but the “world full of supernatural spirits and mind-numbing terror” is where the “true story” claim falls flat. This is a straight-up ghost story, survival horror video game. While it honestly has an inspired hook thanks to Miku’s camera, it shouldn’t be boasting a complete falsity in order to sell the game to consumers. That won’t make good sales: a good game should be able to do that all by itself.
5 Beverly Hills Who?
The original Beverly Hills Cop film was a massive success with Eddie Murphy in the lead role. The second game adaptation was released exclusively in Europe for the PlayStation 2. The cover was what you’d expect to see: the film logo with a sign citing “Beverly Hills” with a red sports car driving on what can be perceived as the Sunset Strip thanks to the palm trees. Unfortunately, that’s it.
We don’t see Eddie Murphy on the cover.
In fact, we don’t see anyone on the cover at all. So, is this Beverly Hills Cop game a film-inspired racer? Nope, it’s a first-person shooter. There is no possible way to take a good look at the front cover of this game and believe for a second that it’s an FPS…but it is. Talk about marketing mishap!
4 Syphoned Bullet
This time, rather than looking at the cover for spelling mistakes, or out of place artwork, the logo itself falls into question. Specifically, the logo appearing on the cover of each game of the Syphon Filter series is carried with a complete bullet being fired. Of course, this can’t possibly be a real bullet because the casing, the bullet itself and the primer are all intact. A bullet for which it is physically impossible to have it fired is firing a shot through the logo. Real guns eject the casing as the rest of the bullet is fired into its target. What’s more, the technological and digital stylization of the Syphon Filter cover also suggests this is about fighting computer hackers as opposed to fighting a potential viral outbreak.
3 Epic Space Banjo
When an epic space adventure comes to mind, there are some things that can be implied: visiting multiple planets, cool spaceships, and alien races with culture and advanced technologies of their own. So, in that case, why exactly is there an old man with a banjo on the cover of Phalanx? Seemingly contradicting the very essence of the game (it's a side-scrolling spaceship shooter), this banjo is definitely one of the more random covers to grace this list.
There really isn’t a good saving explanation.
The music for the game is closer to techno than anything sounding remotely “folksy” so the excuse of the banjo to be a literal representation of the music is ludicrous. The only thing, aside from the tagline, that implies Phalanx is a space-shooter is the ship speeding over the banjo player’s head.
2 BioShock Undefined
BioShock: Infinite was a first in the series to feature an NPC that you get to know as they follow you over the course of the game. Booker Dewitt leads Elizabeth through the dangerous city of Columbia in order to escape its denizens. Of course, people who haven’t played the game may not know about Elizabeth at all because she’s not on the front cover! Despite being a central protagonist on an equal level of importance to Booker, Elizabeth was relegated to the back cover. Fans were outraged to the point where 2K had to make an official response. In their eyes, they believed that having a woman on the cover might lead to poor sales. Irrational Games quickly made several alternative covers that could be downloaded from their site for the game with Elizabeth included as to allow player-choice.
1 Terminated Metal Gear?
The original Metal Gear game that released on the MSX in Japan has a unique cover, specifically; it appears to be an homage to Michael Biehn from The Terminator. The logo is a little different, but the exact side-by-side comparison is uncanny. Despite the fact that there is a Metal Gear on the cover of the titular game, no one can deny that iconic futuristic soldier shot. Fans of Hideo Kojima, the game’s director and narrative lead will be familiar with his passion for film. He has often been quoted saying that he watched at least one film per day, which is quite a feat for such a prolific developer. Further evidence of Metal Gear’s movie tie-ins includes the name Snake, Kurt Russell’s character in the Escape from New York and Escape from L.A. films.