The SNES had awesomely bad covers? They did. But at least they were original. We've had it up to here with today's video game box art. We don't want to sound like old men, but by golly ... they all look the same. Back in the day, the cover for a video game was your window into the game world, especially considering that the really early games didn't have any graphical horsepower. Because of this, those games relied a lot on the box art to help set a tone and establish a world to draw people in to play. This led to some awesome covers. It also led to some incredible stinkers. Now, there are so many bad covers out there, coming up with a list of everything could take all day. But for now, here are our picks for 10 Awesomely Bad SNES Covers. They don't make 'em like they used to.
What better game to kick things off with than Power Instinct? There's just so much to get to here, we don't even know where to start. First of all, the font for the title looks like it was banged out in Word 3.0 by an Atlus temp worker. But we won't blame you if you didn't notice that and were too busy being horrified by the sweaty, grimacing face of that alien karate master. There's no way that guy is human. For one thing, where's his foot attached? Is he kicking or kneeing that Native American pro-wrestler? Oh well, guess it doesn't really matter since they're both about to be incinerated by that exploding fireball behind them.
It's been awhile since we looked at the cover for Final Fight, but man... just look at this cover. If you were to take those guys from NASA that saved Apollo 13, lock them in a room again and not let them out until they had devised the most erotic man-on-man video game cover that's scientifically possible, we're willing to bet you'd get this -- a sexually-charged staring contest between that bad guy from Road Warrior and Freddy Mercury on steroids. Remember what city Mike Haggar was the mayor of? That's right, Metro City. It all makes sense now! Hats off, Final Fight. We had no idea that beat 'em up games from the early '90s were so progressive.
Bill Laimbeer's Combat Basketball
The league was a different place back when Bill "His Heinous" Laimbeer was playing. The only thing you could kiss back then was his fist. And that's just what Hudson Soft was selling with Bill Laimbeer's Combat Basketball. Everything about this box art is the best ever. From the Robocop outfit, to the determined look on Laimbeer's face, to the casual bust in the chops that he's giving to that mowhawk guy, who appears to be materializing like a genie from the torso of the defender that's about to get posterized (and presumably punched), by Big Bad Bill. Sa-wish!
Speaking of basketball, we have this. Sorry, but there's no way to un-see this. Look at it once and the box art for College Slam sears itself directly into your brain. We apologize for the smoking, charred mark on your synapses that's in the shape of a grotesque basketball with disturbingly lifelike teeth. Ugh... and it's biting the metal rim. At least we're posting a fairly low-res image of it. We don't want any lawsuits after all. The addition of the cheerleader is a nice touch. She doesn't seem to be too concerned about the hideous basketball monster that's about to eat her.
You couldn't pick a weirder piece of IP to base a video game on than the "Smash Hit Virtual Reality Movie" The Lawnmower Man. But that's just what happened in the early '90s and this is what we ended up with. No doubt responsible for its fair share of nightmares, the box art for this game is truly hideous. Those gums! Bleaggh. How were young SNES gamers not constantly running away in terror from this abomination? The Lawnmower Man game box could easily be included as the grand finale in a house of horrors exhibition.
Brawl Brothers has simultaneous two-player action! Awesome. Man, what more could you want in a game? Oh, you want a guy punching through a brick wall? Okay, fair enough. Oh, wait... and you want that guy to actually be composed of two different guys, stitched together Siamese style, into one ridiculous-looking ugly hybrid goon? You sir, just might be a genius. Let's get this put on a video game box post haste. Okay, so Brawl Brothers didn't exactly set the world on fire. But damn, they really went for it with this one. It's hilarious to imagine someone in 1992 actually making the decision to pay $50 for this, which today would be more like $80 when you factor in inflation.
There is no logical reason whatsoever for there to be a weird old banjo-playing hillbilly on the cover of a space shooter. But that's exactly why he's there. We will demonstrate its genius with a short play: "Do you guys have that one space shooter game?" "Sure kid, what's the name of it?" "Oh, dang I can't remember the name. But it's the one with that old guy in the fedora playing the banjo." "Ah, of course. You mean Phalanx." -- End scene. That is why this cover is amazing.
TKO: Super Championship Boxing
Have you ever wondered what it would look like if the Predator took in a Mike Tyson bout ringside? Apparently the cover designers at Sofel couldn't get that notion out of their heads when they were mocking up the box art for TKO: Super Championship Boxing. Utilizing the power of 1992-era Photoshop to its fullest, this cover is a force to be reckoned with. Just don't stare at this one too long, or you will get a headache something fierce.
Remember that scene in The Simpsons when Krusty and his executives come up with the idea of Poochie the Rapping Dog? That's exactly what happened with this box art. Dino City has the oily, corporate stink of boardroom all over it. Alright, what do the kids out there like? Dinosaurs? Check. Sneakers? Check. Skateboards? Check. Walkmans? Check. Okay now, let's mix all that crap together and make some money! The Dino City cover is the shared, unconscious fever dream of every early '90s adolescent. And we love it.
INT. MALIBU GAMES OFFICES - DAY
"Time Trax is going to print tomorrow and we don't have the cover yet?! Are you kidding me!? Well, we have to throw this thing together ASAP. Get Sears catalog central casting on the line and get a male model down here now. Okay, Ron... you brought your kid to work today? Have him make something out of that Lego crap he brought with him. We already have a still from the game, so we're good there. Okay, this is starting to come together. He's gonna need a gun. Wait, we don't have a prop gun? For Pete's sake. Okay, we'll just have him point his keys and fix it in post. Alright, let's go people. Time to make some magic happen!" Congrats Time Trax. You made the top of the list of 10 Awesomely Bad SNES Covers.
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