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).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.
Story of Thor 1/2
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. 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.
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).