Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Top 10 Best Video Game Cover Art

Sometimes, the best of games have the worst cover art as you can see with my number 1 greatest game of all time, Xenogears: I hate it when they lazily crammed up the precious space with the main characters' faces. The opposite can easily happen as well where a nice cover art misleads you into thinking that the game may not be half bad. As the saying goes, you cannot judge a book by its cover. You can however judge the cover on its own merit. A good cover art can further elevate the whole feel of a game and makes it more special in its physical representation. Game developers need to understand that those who are serious about gaming are also very meticulous about how the games are presented and packaged until everything is fully distributed via digital download, which is probably going to happen with the arrivals of the next generation of gaming consoles. [Last Update: 06/13/2011]

Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth (2006)
Platform: PlayStation Portable
Developer: tri-Ace Inc.

This remake not only added sparkling new CG cinemas into the game, it also updated the artwork on the game case with thrilling results. Nothing says "a somber, depressing game" better than a crying Lenneth. If a Valkyrie is broken down to tears by this game, you know the same could happen to you!

Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon (2011)
Platform: PlayStation 3
Developer: Vicious Cycle Software, Inc.

At first glance, this cover art is very perplexing. For a brief moment, I thought that a soldier is moving around inside a spherical transportation device away from the horde of nasty creatures shown in the background. Then, I realized the actual horror - and brilliance - of it all. What originally looked like a floating sphere is actually a armored helmet... It's a human head! More disturbing is the fact that it got decapitated and punctured through by one of the giant spider's sharp, spiny hind leg. The fact that the head is being paraded in front of a fellow soldier as shown by the reflection on the visor makes everything even more brutal and menacing. Does this mean that thse creatures know the art of scare tactics in war?

Power Stone (1999)
Platform: Dreamcast
Developer: Capcom Co., Ltd.

What separates this one from the usual character-medley mess is its high energy and fun perspective. With the stylized world map beneath them, the fighters rushed upwards to get the power-infused shining stone. Notice the little detail of Jack, the one-eyed mummy, holding a knife in his right hand as if he is ready to off Fokker, the guy in red. Yes, that is the character's real name.

Dead Rising (2006)
Platform: X-Box 360
Developer: Capcom Co., Ltd.

Capcom not only managed to show chaos and utter madness on the game's cover, they were also able to put some gory blood spurts there in the process. Ballsy... and gross. They could have put anything in the main character Frank West's hands... A chainsaw, a shotgun, a sword... Instead, they gave him an old flat screen VCR/DVD/TV combo to smash the zombies with. So basically, Frank is killing two birds with one stone. Instant classic!

Radiant Silvergun (1998)
Platform: SegaSaturn
Developer: Treasure

For being action-packed as it is, Treasure chose to focus on the spiritual content of the game on its cover: Two Silverguns traveling side by side across an evening sky. Those who have finished the game understand the cover art's reference to the two pilots' flight towards space to launch their desperate and final attack to save the world. 40% of the cover space is blackened where the game's title rests, foreshadowing the game's tragic tone. Bleak, artistic, and impactful.

Suikoden V (2006)
Platform: PlayStation 2
Developer: Konami Corporation

Those who are obsessed with trying to fit a lot of supposedly cool characters onto the cover of a game need to learn a lesson from this one. Instead of pasting stiff pictures of the game's characters, notice how the 4 in the middle are donning some kick-butt poses, especially the cool-looking hot aunt Sialeeds right underneath the game's title. It looks as if she is ready to do that opening high kick from The Matrix! Looking closely at the other characters inside the nicely patterned frame, it is apparent that they each have a certain expression on their faces. Just looking at the cover art makes me want to play the game again!

Nintendogs (2006)
Platform: Nintendo DS
Developer: Nintendo

Okay, Nintendo is playing dirty here. Real dirty. They selected the cutest of puppies, no matter which version of the game you buy, and slapped it on the game's cover with a soft photography that focused on the puppy's face. The whole thing not only looks irresistibly cute but lavishly domestic. Nintendo was aiming for the ultimate "awww" factor and they succeeded.

Katamari Damacy (2003)
Platform: PlayStation 2
Developer: Namco Ltd.

To show off the weird nature of the game, Namco's minimalist approach proved to be quite genius. Is the cover funny? No, just like the game itself, it's not funny. Just odd... Like the game. You see two cows grazing lazily in the fields and there is something sinister in the background in the form of a ball composed of different objects from big buildings to large animals. Is this thing dangerous? If so... Why is there a rainbow over it making it look like something divine. What will happen to the two cows? Absurdly odd yet uniquely mesmerizing.

Mario Party 8 (2007)
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Developer: Hudson Soft./Nintendo

Almost all of the Mario Party games have great looking covers. This 8th entry definitely has the best one compared to the others in the series. What is great about this one is the amount of loving treatments the Nintendo characters are given on it. They all look great and extremely happy to be in each other's company amidst the colorful environment around them and the celebratory confetti falling from the sky. Even though things look very busy, the Nintendo stars still retain their unique personalities. Look at Mario leading the crowd towards infinite fun while Luigi attempts to follow along. Look at Peach and Daisy running next to each other in pure unadulterated joy. Hey, why is Wario carrying all those gold coins? Love it.

Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly (2003)
Platform: PlayStation 2
Developer: Tecmo, Inc.

Resident Evil 4 may be the better game but the picture of Leon holding a pistol can never, ever invoke the same morbid fear as the two creepy Japanese girls seen here. As if the long hair over their faces are not disturbing enough, notice that these two are wearing traditional Japanese kimonos and are tied to each other by the waist. What are the hundreds of candles doing behind them? Are they in the middle of a ceremony? What kind of ceremony? How come none of them look happy to be there? Powerful imagery for an equally powerful horror game.

1 comment:

Kelli said...

I totally agree with you, cover art is everything. Actually I feel every element in a game is important.. characters, art, story, and of course the music. That is exactly why I am obsessed with metal gear solid, final fantasy, and castlevania's art work, it just grabs my attention.

Nice post