Shack Chat: What's your favorite video game box/cover art?

The Shack Staff discusses their favorite box and cover art this week.


Shack Chat is back once again, our weekly feature where each Friday where we’ll ask the Shacknews staff to give their opinion on a particular topic, then open the floor to our dedicated Chatty community to provide a diverse mixture of thoughts on the subject. It’s a great way for us to get to know one another better while inspiring healthy debates with all of you passionate gamers out there. 

Question: What's your favorite video game box/cover art?

F-Zero - Asif Khan, The Man with The Briefcase

I love the box art for the SNES version of F-Zero. I love it so much I repurposed the artwork and used it for an Army of Techno rave flyer. The box art even features my favorite racer, Samurai Goroh, catching some sweet air.

Samba de Amigo - Brittany Vincent, Senior Editor

I'll always be drawn to the simplicity and bold colors of Space Channel 5's Dreamcast version, and certainly Gitaroo Man. But I love how extra Samba de Amigo's artwork is. I'm sure there are several I'm forgetting, but this one's a classic, right up there with Sega's other box art, and it does a fantastic job of communicating the "party" atmosphere that Samba invokes. Samba's creepy stare with blank eyes really sells it for me, as does the colorful nature of the image in general. The Samba de Amigo Ver. 2000 box art got even better, but I appreciate both of them and wish we saw more of this art style these days.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic - Ozzie Mejia, Senior Editor

I am quite the Star Wars nerd, so there's a good reason that the Knights of the Old Republic box art left an impression on me. BioWare knew exactly what aesthetic they were aiming for with this game, so the studio emulated the original Star Wars movie posters with the game's box art. The manner in which the game's characters are expressed offer a good idea of the level of excitement that players could expect out of this original tale that predates the movies by centuries. And indeed, BioWare had an epic lined up that truly lived up to the Star Wars name, telling an original tale that was truly their own, but one that also felt refreshingly familiar.

Even with characters that players have never met in any of the movies, Knights of the Old Republic's box art is there to tell you that this is just as much a Star Wars story as any of the movies that bear its name.

Majora's Mask - Josh Hawkins, Resident Zelda Fanatic

I’ve never really thought about box art, or the part that it plays in drawing in a person. Sure, I’ve seen some pretty box art out there, but I’ve never really looked at any of it and thought ‘God, that really makes me want to play that game’. When I sit down and really think about it, though, there’s one piece of box art that comes to mind. One that really stands out for me, and that’s Majora’s Mask.

As one of the first Legend of Zelda games I played, Majora’s Mask is part of what really ignited my love for storytelling. It introduced me to this dark and playful world where the consequences were massive, and really helped inspire me to chase after the dreams that I now pursue as part of my daily life. All in all, looking at it, the box art for Majora’s Mask isn’t really anything special. Quite the opposite, to be honest. It’s pretty drab and bland compared to some of the other box art that I’ve seen featured in this week’s chat. But, to me, that cover art brings back hours of memories, of diving into a story that--at the time--I didn’t fully understand all the implications of.

Final Fantasy 6 - Kevin S. Tucker, Squaresoft Fanboy

I was very much into Final Fantasy games in my youth, having first come across a copy of Final Fantasy 3 available for dollar-a-night rentals at our local Winn Dixie grocery store. I wasn’t yet familiar with the series, and the couple of nights I had to play it wasn’t nearly enough to enjoy the entire adventure (I think I made it as far as the mine cart escape sequence.) After I’d moved on, what stuck out in my memory was the game’s art direction, specifically the Magitek armor, the opening city of Narshe, and all of the intricate monster designs.

Not too many years later Final Fantasy 8 came out, the first Final Fantasy title I ever bought for myself, and that was right around the time I first had internet access from home. I combed through gaming websites and forums for new information and inevitably discovered the ties — or rather a lack thereof — between Final Fantasy 8, 7, and the old SNES title I’d nearly forgotten about. Conveniently, Final Fantasy Anthology hit store shelves just a few months later, and I was able to deep dive all the way through Final Fantasy 6 just a matter of months after devouring both 7 and 8.

Despite the years I still find myself thinking about Final Fantasy 6, and thoughts of the game’s visuals are still at the forefront of my mind. The only difference now is that I’ve come to appreciate Yoshitaka Amano’s artwork more than I had back then, and the European cover for Final Fantasy 6 (not our American FF3 box art) still sweeps me right back into the golden years of JRPGs.

Quarantine - Chris Jarrard, Sexually attracted to warm, soft pretzels

Originally released for MS-DOS in 1994, GameTek’s Quarantine dropped players into a post-apocalyptic future and forced them to survive as part of the gig economy as a taxi driver. The first-person perspective and open world setting were cutting edge when the game was originally released. You were tasked with delivering fares and destroying enemies, all while given the option to run people over. The game was incredibly violent compared to its contemporaries and pre-dated the similar Grand Theft Auto 3 by more than seven years.

The box art for Quarantine is a masterclass in minimalist design, with a solid red cover that is broken up by a single windshield wiper smearing away what is likely pedestrian blood. It has a tagline that reads, “Driving a cab in this town… is murder.” In an era where box art still heavily influenced purchasing decisions, Quarantine offered prospective buyers a glimpse at its vibe rather than some artist’s rendition of a gameplay scene.

The game went on to be ported to the 3DO the following year and saw Playstation and Sega Saturn ports that released in Japan. A sequel, known as Road Warrior, was released for MS-DOS in 1995. Road Warrior was a better game than its predecessor and had really good box art, but it couldn’t compare to the simplicity and effectiveness of the Quarantine box.

Super Bust-a-Move - Blake Morse, Pop Icon

Who is this baby? Why are they on the cover to Super Bust-a-Move? What does it have to do with the video game? The answer to all these questions is “I have no clue whatsoever.” There have been a lot of zany game covers, but most of them have tied into their game in some way. While you can see the game screen reflected in the baby’s sunglasses, nothing else really relates to the game. There’s no baby in Super Bust-a-Move and babies would probably have a hard time matching sets of three let alone being competitive in a multiplayer puzzle game, so I doubt they’re a target demographic.

I can’t really explain why Taito went this route instead of using the Iconic Bub and Bob dino duo that are synonymous with the Bust-a-Move/Puzzle Bobble series. But this cover has long intrigued me and I still have no clue what’s up with this baby after nearly 20 years...

Firewatch - Charles Singletary Jr, Park Ranger

There are a maddening amount of game covers that I wanted to mention here, but some of my favorites are already represented on this list. Thus, I’ll go with a more recent one: The Firewatch cover by artist Olly Moss.

I learned about Olly Moss via Mondo, a company that is mostly known for celebrating contemporary and classic films, tv shows, comics, and many other pop culture mediums with limited edition screen printed posters. The posters will go up for sale at a random time on Friday and, most times, will sell out in a matter of minutes. It’s a matter of seconds if they’re collaborating with one of the highly coveted artists and Olly Moss is one such artist.

The first work I came across by Olly was a collection based on the original Star Wars trilogy. I found them well past them debuting and likely wouldn’t have been able to procure one anyway, but I fell in love with the style. His works betry a minimal design, but there’s a lot of complexity in how he works with negative, empty space. I was over the moon when I learned that he’d be in charge of art and the visual style for Firewatch, which felt like one of his prints come to life. I can’t wait to see what he and the team do with In The Valley of the Gods, but one things is for sure: I’ll be spending money of the game’s artwork whenever it goes live.

Battlefield 3 - Bill Lavoy, Managing Editor

As I did some homework to decide on my favorite box art, I realized this isn’t something I’ve ever considered before. I mean, I’ve probably looked at box art in the past and thought, “That’s cool,” but not enough to remember all these years later. To make my choice I decided to try and recall box art from the games I’ve played over the years, and one title immediately stood out.

The Battlefield 3 cover art is something I can see vividly in my mind. It’s a game I spent well over 1,000 hours playing, and the friendships I developed because of my connection to that game are what propelled me to a career in games in the first place. I don’t think that's why the box art stays clear in my head, but it’s kind of cool that what is perhaps the most impactful game I’ve played has box art that I could clearly describe without looking it up. I’m not sure I could do that with any other game, so Battlefield 3 wins based on its impact on my life, and by default.

Halo 2 Limited Collector's Edition - Sam Chandler, The Man from the Future

I had no idea Halo 2 was even coming until I spotting an Xbox magazine in my local newsagency. The mag had a complete storyboard of the teaser trailer of the Chief picking up a Battle Rifle, going down the elevator, opening up the airlock and flying out. I was was only just a teenager and I was ecstatic, the game I’d spent hundreds of hours playing was getting a sequel.

I wore my Halo 2 shirt to the midnight launch. I carried my limited collector’s edition copy out of the store like it was a second beating heart I had to preserve. It was sparse in its design, with the simple Halo icon with the number “2” in the middle, and it meant everything to me. It was a continuation of a story I’d devoured and an opportunity to dive into the world of online gaming. It didn’t need anything flashy to tell me what I was getting. There was no man holding a gun, no crazy environment. It was perfect.

The case still sits on the shelf behind me as I work, a constant reminder of the passion that drives me to greater heights in this industry.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 - Donovan Erskine, Intern

As is the case with most kids, I loved superheroes. I’d take my toys and create my own storylines with epic crossovers and brand new teams forming. The Marvel Ultimate Alliance games perfectly captured this feeling, and their cover arts greatly embodies the essence of the games. The MUA 2 cover sees Spider-Man himself front and center, surrounded by a colorful cast of characters. Staple members of the Avengers such as Iron Man, Captain America, and The Hulk are featured on the cover as well alongside Wolverine, Gambit, Deadpool, and even Venom. The Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 cover represents the wacky combinations of characters you can create, and looks cool while doing it.

Doom - David Craddock, Long Reads Editor

Growing up with NES games, I saw many great box covers. I also saw terrible art that hid some real gems behind an uninviting face. (I'm looking at you, Mega Man.) But my favorite box art--and equally iconic to Mega Man's, but for all the right reasons--is Doom's.

The image of that Doomed space marine--played by John Romero--fending of a mob of Barons of Hell, torso bloodied, in danger of being dragged down to hell, has stayed with me for over 20 years. To an 11-year-old kid, Doom's artwork was at once exciting, awe-inspiring, and terrifying. It radiates the heat of Hell, and perfectly captures the spirit of the game: A frantic fight to the death against the best (and worst) Hell has to throw at you. The icing on the cake? Doom 2016's key artwork evoked the spirit of both the original game and the original artwork beautifully.

Oh, and a shout-out to the other space marine running in from the background, who will no doubt arrive seconds too late to save our hero from his fate. Don't blame your buddy for falling behind, Doomguy. The kid controlling him was probably playing on a 14.4k modem, over America OnLine, while his sister moaned and groaned about needing the phone line to talk to her friends about boys even though it was the kid's gaming time and his sister knew he would be trying to play Doom with his friend down the street but she ran to Mom to complain and Mom took her side and the game was interrupted and the kid's friend burned in Hell for eternity.

Or maybe he just ran back to grab a BFG in a secret area, and they blew the Barons of Hell to smithereens and celebrated at recess the next day. Either way.

Disagree with our picks? Think we're a bunch of clowns? Let us know in the Chatty below.

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