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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Bad RPG Covers

We've already talked about good RPG covers here on RPGreats, so why not look at some bad ones too?  Here's a few I'm aware of that stand out for their sheer hilarious awfulness. 

Castle of the Winds

Castle of the Winds was distributed by a number of companies under the shareware model, which generally meant they couldn't make much, if any, profit off it.  They could charge money for copies, but only enough to cover costs to get it stocked on store shelves; hence, they were generally sold in cheap plastic or paper sleeves, and the cover usually just had a screenshot or some royalty-free stock art.  ("Vanquish the Dark Forces" also seems to be an invention of that particular publisher, as neither of the two games uses that phrase as a subtitle or in-game at any point). 

B&N did give the game a proper big-box release, though only in the strictest sense; the box contained a floppy disk and nothing else.  Their signature cheap artwork was here in full force, though, carrying on their theme of gradients, shapes and whatever non-copyrighted stock fonts they could use to create something vaguely representing the game.

Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow

The original box for Dawn of Sorrow was passable, even if it, like the game itself, traded in the series' trademark gothic art style for generic anime.  But when the game became a hot seller and Konami decided to reprint it as a budget label game, they did... this. Just... why?  Have the red stripe at the top if you must, but don't put a picture of the box on the box

Crusader of Centy / Shin Souseiki Ragnacenty / Soleil

Crusader of Centy is one of those odd cases of a game having a different title in every region; in Japan it was "Shin Souseki Ragnacenty" and in Europe it was "Soleil". The US box art is generic as can be, but the EU cover is just one big 'what were they thinking' moment.  "Let's take this colorful, light-hearted Zelda-like and paste some rando's badly-lit face and hands in the background behind the logo, and frame the logo and the entire picture with a bunch of rusty metal trim!  It'll sell great!" 

Hoshi wo Miru Hito

As far as RPGs go, Hoshi wo Miru Hito is probably objectively the single worst one I've ever played.  As we can see, the cover art doesn't do anything to redeem it, either, just snapping a photo of what appears to be a broken model ship buried in a sandbox and sticking a starry background with an off-center blue beam of light behind it.  Oh, and some eyes that look like they were copied from a low budget animated feature from the '50s.

Might and Magic III: Isles of Terra

Looks like an album cover from some terrible '80s hair metal band that nobody remembers.  Also I don't think I've ever seen someone be so emaciated but still have a six-pack. 

Planescape Torment

Planescape Torment is a cult classic for its brilliant writing and grim atmosphere, but it didn't sell particularly great in its time.  I can't imagine the box art did it too many favors in that regard; nothing quite like a dreadlocked pickled Smurf leering at you to put you off buying a game.  The Memorial Box release is a bit better at least, though both highlight the fact that the Nameless One isn't exactly the most photogenic of protagonists, not helped by the late '90s plasticy CGI.  I can definitely give props for featuring a main character who isn't just a super buff white guy or a huge-breasted lady, but alas, heavily scarred quasi-undead dudes apparently don't move copies. 

Shining Force II

There was an odd trend in the '80s and early '90s where game companies would heavily westernize their games' box art to keep anime style art away from our eyes, even though they would almost never change the in-game graphics to match.  Case in point, Shining Force - a series known for its colorful characters and high quality animation reminiscent of animated movies, now looks like a generic sword-and-sorcery novel cover starring... I don't know, a severely disfigured Tobey Maguire?  With breasts?

Story of Thor 1/2

AKA Beyond Oasis/Legend of Oasis in North America.  No matter which names you use, though, their box art is lacking.  The original game's is just underwhelming, with a pair of Disney eyes looming down on a mound of muddy dirt being hit by lightning.  The second at least has a bit more going on visually, but any menace they tried to invoke with that devil is ruined by the cartoony CGI style they employed.


More westernized cover art.  Suikoden came out right at the tail end of that era and is one of the few examples of it on the Playstation 1.  I get the feeling most of the faces here were just day-to-day workers at Konami's North American office.

Virtual Hydlide 

More comically bad early CGI, framed with superfluous godrays and layer filtering.  Someone at Sega of Europe got their boss to shell out for a Photoshop license and damn it, he was going to use it!

Ys III: Wanderers from Ys

More Americanized box art, but this one is just hilarious.  They turned Adol into a shrieking Conan the Barbarian knockoff fighting a giant wasp.  Dogi too, despite the fact that he only really uses his fists in the games (and isn't playable until Ys Seven, released over two decades later).