Alright, thats a sweeping generalisation, but it’s also quite true. We all know that films, games and books all get different covers and treatment depending on the region they release in, but every time you can guarantee that the NA box art will feature characters on the front and someone will be angry. In fact, the vast majority of NA box art is as far from what anybody could call artistic, below are a selection of some of the best (and worst) offenders in the world of box art. It should be noted though that sometimes things fail and go the other way, with EU or even JPN box art being disastrous in comparison to the NA or its original region.
To kick things off we can take a look at the the situation when it’s turned on its head. The box art for Naughty Dog’s Uncharted 2: Among Thieves:
Next up is the Legend of Zelda DS games, both Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks got the NA treatment of trying to make Link look ‘badass’, despite it totally clashing with the artistic styling of the game.
The next crime has to easily be the worst one known to man - Ico. Ico was a game of pure beauty, and so its JPN and EU box art reflected its artistic stylings and minimalist approach to gameplay with a bleak and inquisitive box art, the NA box however made it look like some bargain bin throwaway title. It comes as no surprise that the NA release was ‘dumbed down’ by Team Ico, whilst the JPN and EU versions remained intact. Note Ico himself is clearly an angry boy in the NA box art, despite him being nothing but lovely in the game…
Time for another little reversal, this time with Spyro the Dragon. Both the NA and EU versions of the game featured the purple reptile with claws and a bad ass attitude, as arguably he was. The JPN version however went for a much more cutsey approach…
Another angry NA box art comes in the form of the still unreleased Kid Icarus: Uprising on the Nintendo 3DS. Literally nothing has changed in this image other than the fact Pit’s expression is definitely sterner…
Interestingly Heavy Rain got itself a very moody EU box art that really alluded to very little, essentially giving you little idea what to expect from the moody murder mystery title. The NA box art however seems to just say that it’s got boobs and guns in and thats all you really need to know. Thankfully, thanks to fan outcry over the hideous cover the option to download a PDF of the EU artwork was given.
Famously the Final Fantasy series of games have also gotten the disgusting NA marketing treatment and get turned int gaudy pieces of trash. The original and captivating logos, that give insight into what the games big disaster or turning point will be about, gets pushed aside so a large image of the games protagonists can take centre stage instead. They look cluttered, cheap and messy, and the spectacular Final Fantasy XII cover is literally pooed all over with a cheesy character montage. As you can tell, we’re somewhat protective over this franchise. Annoyingly the only way to get the proper cover for Final Fantasy XIII in the EU was to buy the Collectors Edition, otherwise you had to stomach the terrible NA art.
We’ll end on the largest atrocity we found, Amnesia: The Dark Decent. A moody and gripping horror title, its EU cover is fitting to the bleak nature of it all, but the NA art… well we’ll let you discover that monstrosity for yourself.
There are a lot more box art crimes out there, but for now thats enough. There have been many theories as to why NA box art sucks so much, the major one most people go back to is that marketers in NA feel that if players don’t know who the characters are they can’t connect to them, and thus wont buy the game. Another is that it has to be flashy to stand out on the shelf, however if everything looks flashy, surely the ones that are striking have more impact?
If you know of some particularly awful box arts drop them in the comments below!