From the riveting to the ridiculous, a videogame’s box art can form a potential buyer’s crucial first (and maybe last) impression of a title.
To help videogame publishers nail this task (and to hold their feet to the fire when they blow it), Game|Life will be publishing box art reviews that offer a strictly skin-deep take on games’ packaging. It’s a feature I started at MTV Multiplayer that will bring entirely new way of looking at videogames to Wired.com.
We’ll put aside any preconceived notions about the games and simply judge them by their covers. You know, just like we do with books.
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor (DS)
What’s on the box: Seven teens with angular haircuts stand around looking too cool to talk to each other. The entire cover is saturated in red, and red glowy things float in the air (one is hitting the middle dude in his eyeball).
What’s good: Hey look, it’s the misfits you hung out with in high school.
What’s bad: Is this a game that teaches parents how to deal with angst-ridden, black-clad, Satan-worshipping teenagers? That’s what I think “Devil Survivor” means.
Verdict: Fail. There are enough game covers featuring a group of youngsters loitering. Show some adventure and excitement please.
Little League World Series 2009 (Wii, DS)
__What’s on the box: __Three kids from three different teams with two (or possibly three) baseballs do their thing on the field.
What’s good: Last year’s cover featured cross-eyed children not having any fun. Anything had to be an improvement.
__What’s bad: __This year’s cover features cross-eyed children who are clearly confused. The batter is hitting the ball away from the field, another player looks like he’s fielding a ground ball and a player from a third team might be throwing the ball to first base. Maybe the on-field chaos has something to do with their eye problems.
Verdict: Fail. I don’t know the rules of Little League baseball and this isn’t helping.
GTA Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories Double Pack (PS2)
What’s on the box: Two cleavage-baring, sunglasses-wearing women give you the eye. One of them’s got a gun.
What’s good: Forget Tomb Raider. This new Grand Theft Auto two-pack boasts two leading ladies! Sweet!
What’s bad: What do these women do in the games? They can’t just be eye candy to entice the average male gamer … right?
Verdict: Still a Win. We need more females that aren’t petting ponies on the covers of games.
Classic Word Games (DS)
What’s on the box: Images of a crossword puzzle, a word search, a hangman in the desert and some sort of card game.
What’s good: Box is literal: There can be no confusion about this game’s contents. “Additional Nintendo DSi features” aren’t explained on the cover, but I’m hoping you can take a photo of your boss and use it in hangman.
What’s bad: Images are as exciting as the nondescript name, which doesn’t stand out in a sea of similar titles. Also, what’s a “Landingge”? I assume it’s supposed to be “Landing Gear,” but still an odd choice for the cover.
Verdict: Fail. Games are conventional but cover doesn’t have to be.
Fight Night: Round 4 (Xbox 360, PS3)
What’s on the box: Boxing legends Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson get set to trade punches.
What’s good: I know very little about boxing, but at least I instantly recognize these two champs.
What’s bad: I didn’t know Ali and Tyson fought each other. I will now interject water-cooler conversations about boxing with this new “fact” I learned.
Verdict: Win. Historically inaccurate, but since fans were able to choose the cover athletes through the game’s website, they got what they wanted.