View Thread : Did a seperate group make the box art or were they just horrible artists? Both?

Great Rumbler
There's bad box art and then there's BAD box art. This is a thread about the BAD box art and the companies that commited the atrocities.

All the box art I got came from here. (

Tagin' Dragon:

There’s no need to explain why this cover is so utterly freakish and disturbing, but things are wrong aside from the eerily grinning dragon sticking a limp maroon . . . tail . . . in his jaws. Why can we see through the skin of the reddish dragon? And just what the hell is going on the bottom right-hand corner of the picture? Perhaps the last question is best left a mystery, since finding an answer would require someone to stare at the cover of Tagin’ Dragon for more than a few seconds. That’s not a good idea.

Some may wonder how art like this could end up on a game for the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System, given the big N’s notoriously uptight policies of the era. While the company may have missed the implied sex scene ten minutes into Golgo 13 or the exploding head of Hitler during Bionic Commando’s finale, there’s no way that something like Tagin’ Dragon could have made it past Nintendo. So how did it get to the market?

The lack of a “Nintendo Seal of Quality” on the box of Tagin’ Dragon provides the answer. This game didn’t have to meet any scrupulous Nintendo standards, since it was an unlicensed title published in America by Bunch Games, which was reportedly affiliated with Color Dreams, itself a source of many amusing NES releases that never carried Nintendo’s approval.Tagin’ Dragon was actually programmed by another unapproved company known as Sachen, a fascinatingly strange Taiwanese entity better known for NES games like Jovial Race and that inadvertent monument to game-borne sadism, Little Red Hood.

What sort of game did Sachen create with Tagin’ Dragon? Is it really as repulsize as its box illustration implies? The answer, fortunately, is no, although the title screen could possibly frighten small children who haven’t already been inured to horrendous dragon artwork by the cover. When Tagin' Dragon is started, a lumpy, marginally reptilian creature appears next to the title and starts changing colors. It's hard to watch.


No, it’s not truly horrendous. It’s just cheesy. Strider Hiryu, one of the most stylish of Capcom’s early characters, has been recast as a square-jawed, tights-wearing stock superhero using a sword from She-Ra: Princess of Power to fend off a robot and two monkey-men. In the background we see a lazy recreation of the Russian minarets from Strider’s first stage, though the artist’s overwhelming use of tan makes the structure look more like an enormous sand castle.

The overall effect is not unlike that given by some cheap illustration from a terrible direct-to-video sci-fi film of the 1980s. (The Non-Hiryu guy even looks a little like Reb Brown, star of Space Mutiny.) With that in mind, we might speculate that Sega may have once planned to use this box art for a different game.

Valis 3:

Original Japanese box art:

The three heroines of Valis III are pictured above on the cover of the game's PC Engine CD (the TurboGrafx/TurboDuo in the west) release. While the blue border is confusing and the art merely adequate, the cast at least looks as they do in the game. The sorceress at the rear is Valna, the whip-wielding beast-girl in the foreground is Cham, and the blue-haired lass in the armored bikini is Yuko. Remember what Yuko looks like, as she’s the focus of the game's American cover.

I think this is supposed to be Yuko, anyway. However, not only does this illustration bear little resemblance to Yuko’s design, it's not even clear if this is actually supposed to be a woman. The excessive shading around the character’s face makes it seem as though she’s growing stubble, and the oddly elongated arms and large hands lend the figure an androgynous look. “Her” expression isn’t comforting either. Some game covers are blatantly disturbing, badly drawn, or unrelated in tone, but this one is just creepy in an indefinite way.

It’s a shame that unsettling art have turned a few customers away from the TurboGrafx/TurboDuo CD version of Valis III. With Turbo Technologies Inc. squandering ad money on Johnny Turbo and the system getting far less magazine space than the Genesis, SNES, or even the NES, Turbo titles needed good packaging to drive those impulsive in-store purchases. Sadly, TurboGrafx cover illustrations had never exhibited high standards before, and the ball was dropped yet again with Valis III.

On the Sega Genesis, however, a port of Valis III found success in America both critically and commercially, aided perhaps by a cover that wasn’t quite as ugly. (Or perhaps by appearing on a system that was genuinely popular, but that's open to debate.) Still, Yuko couldn’t catch a break here either. Check out the “Yuko SMASH!!” look on her swollen face.


Great Rumbler
Look! More!

Wonder Boy in Monster Land:

Wonder Boy goes down in history alongside Alex Kidd as one of the biggest game mascots on the SegaMaster System, the unappreciated middle child of late ‘80s consoles. With three decent action titles to his name, Wonder Boy could have been a modest success had he ever appeared on Nintendo’s competition-crushing NES. And if that had happened, his second game, Wonder Boy in Monster Land, might have borne a better cover than this.

Most Sega Master System releases had limited box art that placed a few images against a boring gray-on-white grid, but Wonder Boy in Monster Land bears a particularly disquieting choice of illustration. Of course, there’s nothing extraordinary about showing some armor-clad hero striking a sword from his enemy’s hand while bats flit about in the background. It’s standard issue for a cartoonish fantasy action game, you might say.

No, the true horror of this cover lies in the eerie, glazed expression of triumphant malice on Wonder Boy’s face. Stare at it for a few seconds and tell me that there isn’t something unsettling about that gleeful, Caligula-esque visage. Wonder Boy appears to be taking excessive joy in the simple act of knocking a foe’s sword aside, which may suggest that he’s doing more. Perhaps the back of the falling knight obscures a gash in the front of his armor, from which his blood and organs are spilling out to the mad delight of that perverse and murderous fiend, Wonder Boy.

It’s not hard to imagine a child looking at this box for a moment too long, catching a glimpse of the hero’s freakish grin, and then fleeing back to the sanctity of a store's Nintendo section, where the most disturbing game cover was that of Mega Man. And so the Sega Master System loses one more potential customer. We hope you're happy, Wonder Boy.

Wonder Boy 3:

Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap is often extolled as the best of the Sega Master System’s catalog. It’s a bold claim, but also one with merit, for Wonder Boy III is an engrossing, massive, pleasantly challenging action/platformer that’s similar to Nintendo’s Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, and even more enjoyable in some ways. After all, Link never allowed its hero to shapeshift into dragons and birdmen and other creatures, nor did it string together its complex stages or make use of RPG elements as effectively as Wonder Boy III did. But we’re not here to debate the merits of Miyamoto’s game versus Westone’s. We’re here to gaze upon the spectacle of Wonder Boy III’s cover.

While the art isn’t as grotesque as the previous Wonder Boy title, it’s just plain silly in its depiction of the apple-cheeked Wonder Boy prancing down some gray-brick road while scattering monsters in his wake. One might initially think that the beasts are afraid of Wonder Boy’s prowess in combat, but it’s more likely that their fear is motivated by something else, namely that Wonder Boy isn’t wearing any pants.

When you think about it, there can be no other explanation. A band of fearsome creatures like this wouldn’t be frightened of some sword-waving goof, but the sheer horror and public faux pas of a guy hanging it all out would surprise just about anything. Observe the doglike octopus on the upper-right, who seems to have a particularly shocking view of Wonder Boy’s little wonder. And somehow, our hero’s grin takes on new meaning when you realize that he’s marching off to battle with nothing beneath his armored skirt. Is he insane? Or maybe Scottish? Either way, it makes for box art that’s memorable in the worst possible fashion.

Ahahahahaha!! :D :D :chuckle: :chuckle:

A Black Falcon
My eyes... yes, in the past some companies have come up with truly hideous and odd box-art, that's for sure...

Man, I remember those Master System boxes. I'd love to meet the person who decided on the wonderful "crappy art on grey-on-white grids" design for all of their games.

Great Rumbler
Wonder Boy is a very disturbed young man. In one game he gleefully chops apart his enemies and in another he gleefully exposes himself to a group of monster. That's just sickening.


Great Rumbler
What list of horrible box art would be complete without a couple of Megaman games?

Truly awful.

A Black Falcon
That site has some more quite ... funny... ones too... :)

Dark Jaguar
Still, out of all that box art, Megaman 1 is teh winner (or looser) of them all.

Sorry, but look at that.

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I mean, let's all stare at the old man in a baggy suit standing bow-legged with this "for constipation in the American way" expression on his wrinkled old face. Ah yes, leaning slightly to the side in a way that says "yes I CAN defy the laws of physics by relocating my center of gravity into my right leg thank you". Let's not forget the ugly hand pistol he's carrying around, which he is taking no effort to actually aim mind you, and seems likely enough to just fall out of his hands as actually do anything for him. And oh yes, why have a lovely complimentary two shades of blue suit when you can have a blue and YELLOW suit that clashes ALMOST as bad as the Cincinati Vice background they drew in there? Oh yes, palm trees next to a giant mountain with a huge fireball in the side of it. Groovy. Finally, what is the yellow/blue bomber standing on? Is that a pit with yellow bumpers flying over it, or some ice sheet with yellow hockey pucks flying about? It's hard to tell, but both make about as much sense. Finally, ADJUST HIS HELMET PLEASE! It's not even on straight!

Seriously, though the rest of that is terrible, this is "gouge your eyes out before you see it to save time" terrible, and nothing compaires! Even the Megaman 2 art is an improvement (though still horrible)! Really, what was Capcom on when they thought they could draw something BETTER? Fortunatly, for 3 they drew it in the style of the Japanese version (though it still sucked). It's very sad that it took until Megaman 7 came out for them to just go ahead and USE the Japanese art. Really, I think they were just afraid to fire the artist at Capcom USA or something.

Great Rumbler
One can only assume that the box art for Megaman 1 had to have been made by a person that was blind, because anyone with eyes can see that the box art is truly among the worst things anyone has ever seen.

A Black Falcon
I'd forgotten that box art... its so amazingly bad that I probably surpressed the memory to cope with the horror... :D