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5 Best and Worst Examples of Video Game Box Art

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One of my favorite parts about video games, collecting them, and playing them is looking at the art included with the whole package. Your first impression of a game is likely going to be the first part of the package you see, the box art. With thousands of games comes as many examples of box art, and it ranges from artistic genius to as bad as a five year old’s first photoshop. While everybody else is doing their Top Games of 2014 I wanted to do something different. Those that have read me since my earlier blogging days know that most of my lists are usually different from the rest. I want this holiday special to be no different. In no particular order here are five examples of the best, and worst examples of video game box art!

Worst

We’ll start with the worst first, since these are usually hilarious and you’ll get all your gut wrenching laughter out of your system before we get super serious with the great examples of good box art.

Black Belt

I think Sega was trying to convey minimalism with this game, but with such a poorly drawn foot it ends up looking like a toddler’s doodle of daddy’s crusty toes. A positive I have about this example is that you do in fact kick people with your foot in the game, so it gets a few points for being relatively accurate. Sega’s Master System is littered with pieces of awful box art, but there are plenty of great pieces in the libraries as well. Don’t let this one example sour your opinion of a great system.

Bomberman

This one is a double whammy. The Turbo-16 art is pretty awful, but so is the NES art as well! I love how the NES box claims that ‘Nearly 1 million sold in Japan.’ I know the gaming market was smaller back then, but nearly could make one think that its not good enough to be more than a million! Also, the actual word “Bomb!” is used as a sound effect. The Turbo art looks like it could be a buddy comedy about two older and out of shape terrorists trying to get back into the game of blowing stuff up. So they dress up in space outfits and start chucking old tyme bombs all over the city to let the young’uns know who’s still in charge!

Rival Turf

Nothing makes me more frightened than seeing a couple of suburban 90’s kids looking so tough. This is their turf, so you best back off!

Tongue of the Fatman

How many of you reading this could tell, just by looking at the cover of this game, that Tongue of the Fatman is a fighting game? Not only is it a fighting game, but it is a fighting game for various PC systems. Prepare for awful keyboard controls and disgusting character design. There’s no reason at all to play this.

Metro Cross

Remember when I mentioned a five year old’s first photoshop? I wasn’t joking, not entirely at least. Metro Cross is the punchline. For trying to be rad and extreme there is entirely too much safety equipment on this piece of art. Remove your knee and elbow pads chump, we can discuss the blue and orange turtleneck one piece suit afterwards.

Best

Now that you’ve gotten your laughter from these awful, but in some cases hilarious out of your system, check out these pieces and get ready for an awe inspiring tale of talent, vision, and good planning.

Time Soldiers

Consider this the Master System’s redemption. I love the art on this cover, and the game inside is quite fun if you dig Commando or Ikari Warriors. My favorite detail about this art is not just the tank and the dinosaur trying to get through the time portal at the same time, nor is it the guy firing his bazooka at the visible time portal. No, the best detail is the guy firing his bazooka towards the viewer, alluding to the fact that there is something just off to the side that is just as intimidating as a T-Rex and a tank that we can’t see. You have to play the game to find out!

Ys Book I & II

And here is the Turbo’s redemption. These Ys remakes are considered to be the killer apps of the Turbo CD here in North America. They were highly regarded critically upon release, and had some of the best CD quality audio in video games for its time. The soundtrack has held up well, so go give it a listen. This cover makes me think this is a long lost Dio era Rainbow album. I am not disappointed that its not.

Wasteland

There is no other box like Wasteland’s, well except for Wasteland 2’s. Wasteland is considered to be one of the all time classics of PC role playing games, and introduced the gamers for the platform to a post apocalyptic view of the American Southwest. The idea and the setting would be used as the groundwork for a spiritual successor almost a decade later in the more popular series Fallout. No other game at the time took the perspective of the game, in this case top down, and made such a wonderful piece of art for their product.

System Shock 2

Looking Glass Studios is one of my favorite developers of all time. It was loaded with talent that produces some of the most well loved games today, and when it came to quality they were almost unrivaled on their native PC platform. These green eyes and the circuit wiring on the face, with the wires protruding to each side, let alone the space ship on the bottom, just let the viewer know that they are in for a wild science fiction ride.

Awesome

Just look at everything Psygnosis. That’s my advice. I don’t know what to say other than the word that’s already the title of the game.

Top 10 RPG Villains #5-1

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5. Id (Xenogears)

Those that are familiar with Freudian psychology already know what Id is, even if they’ve never played Xenogears. Well, he’s a bit different than the textbook Freudian definition, replacing the libido with say, instinctual bloodlust would make the Id of Xenogears more accurate.

The ladies can’t resist him either.

He pops up seemingly out of nowhere, for no reason. Its unclear when Id first starts showing up which side he is on, but the characters quickly learn that he’s more just out for a nice stroll with a side of wanton destruction. I do not want to spoil the truth behind Id though, but knowing Freudian psychology, or playing Xenogears can let you figure that one out. This ‘twist’ is one of the reasons why Id scores so highly on my list.

“”That was interesting. But dropping a warship on me is cheating. Take it back!” – Id

4. The Godwins (Suikoden V)

Motive. I cannot stress how important it is for a villain to have a good, believable motive. There needs to be purpose behind actions, words are empty, especially in the highly politicized Game of Thrones which happens in every installment of Suikoden.

Unlike most villains the Godwins have a very clear motive for the coup d’état of the Queendom of Falena, personal power, wealth, glory, and the ability to declare war on their neighbors whenever they desire. That said, Marscal and Gizel Godwin are much deeper than their motives. Marscal is the grizzled veteran, no stranger to the game of nobles, I would compare him to Tywin Lannister as he’s not afraid to deeply scold his son in private.

Dress for the job you want they told Lord Marscal.

Gizel however, just seems to shrug everything off of himself. In public he oozes charm and watches his tongue and body language carefully. In private Gizel schemes and hatches various little plots, usually just putting them in motion and watching as the story unfolds before him.

Gizel is just so sneaky and snakelike, an absolute joy to watch scheme. The Godwins, Gizel in particular, are just so interesting. You always want to know what they’re up to and the game indulges your curiosity. This family is the pinnacle of the idea of loving to hate something. I hate them because of their actions, they killed the Prince’s family and took his little sister and her throne and now want you dead. They’re so well written, casual, and laid back that watching them brings a big smile to my face.

But enough talk, have at you!

“When you get involved in intrigue, do it decisively.” – Marscal Godwin

“What if my master plan was murdering you… in front of your beloved brother?” – Gizel Godwin

3. The Transcendant One (Planescape: Torment)

The greatest enemy one can conquer is oneself. The Nameless One is the main character of this cult classic, but that immortal bag of bones is only half the equation. The real power lies with The Transcendant One, the mortality of The Nameless One personified and he fortifies himself in The Fortress of Regrets.  This is one antagonist that makes their appearance known quickly and is just completely imposing.

Imposing might be putting it lightly…

The Transcendant One does not have much screentime. The Nameless One does not even know he exists until you are inside the Fortress, but his sheer force of will is maddening. What makes this villain score so highly for me is the fact that you can just talk him into committing suicide by recombining with The Nameless One and fighting in the eternal battle of the lower planes, finally blessed with the death that breaks The Nameless One’s prison of eternal life.

2. President Dick Richardson (Fallout 2)

Eugenics. How often does this subject come up in gaming? If you ask me, on the whole, whether I prefer Eastern, or Western villains, I’ll usually say Western. Most of the Western ones I’ve experienced have been great villains that were well written, had a clear motive, and were devious enough to really rustle your jimmies.

Its time for my Nintendo Power nap!

President Richardson is one of the few examples of a reluctant villain. He just happens to be the President of the Enclave while all these plans for purification and recolonization of mainland North America are coming to fruition. Their main weapon for ‘purification’ is a modified strain of FEV, Forced Evolution Virus (why Super Mutants exist), which will supposedly eliminate all life on the mainland.

In the end, President Richardson is just another frail politician hiding behind a wall of muscle. Literally.

His name is Frank.

“The only way for true humans, and democracy, to be safe is to cleanse the mutants from the globe. We humans will take back that which is rightfully ours.” – President Richardson

1. Luca Blight (Suikoden II, Genso Suikogaiden Volume 1)

The White Wolf of Highland. Luca Blight!

There have been deep, excellent villains on this list but none of them match the sheer raw ferocity of Luca Blight. Most antagonists usually have some sort of political power and use it to hide in their castle while they bark orders. Well, Luca Blight is a prince, he is known as the Mad Prince and is not afraid to be on the front lines, leading his soldiers during their killing. You see this happen right from the start.

The moment that really solidifies Luca Blight as a more sinister villain than the others on this list is that he is the only one that actually raises his sword and slashes it downwards towards a defenseless little girl. A small child! Pilika is like 5 years old! Even then, it takes four people to save little Pilika from her early death. Even before all this there’s the systematic slaughter of the Unicorn Brigade, which is where Highland’s young, up and coming recruits train during their teenage years until they’re ready to wield a sword, all just so he will have the support of the Highland population to go to war.

Viktor you magnificent bastard, never stop drinking!

Every time Luca is on screen the entire tone of the game shifts, even though he only speaks in text boxes the man is so charismatic that he commands the attention of the room he’s in, even if he’s not talking! The fear that others feel when they are around him is quite evident as even his own generals start plotting a way to kill him.

Also, since when does an incredibly powerful madman become challenged by a small handful of teenagers? No, Luca’s better than that and you better have three full parties of six decked out characters when it comes down to the final rumble. He even takes a dozen or so arrows to the chest by the time the final duel happens between the deadly White Wolf Luca Blight and Little Riou.

Great villains are always shown being rather villainous.

Remember when I said that Kefka is the best uber super destruction wanton killinator? Yeah, totally taking it back now. Well, Luca Blight has some reasons for his mental state, but that would ruin the experience of playing this masterpiece would it not?

“It took hundreds to kill me but I killed humans by the thousands. I am sublime!!! I am the true face of evil!!!!” – Luca Blight’s dying words

Top 10 RPG Villains #10-6

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I am not a panderer, I do not make lists to drum up views, I look to get fans by trying to write strong content and support my opinions with better reasons than “Its popular.” I do not like generic ‘evil-to-be-evil’ villains, they are overdone, tired, and rarely executed competently, let alone excellently. So, expect my list to be quite different from others that you have run across over the years.

10. The Turks (Final Fantasy VII)

Calling this group ‘villains’ is a bit of a stretch. Not all of them have truly villainous acts and blood on their hands, but they are also not the ones in power. The Turks are just a special forces type of group whose job is to take orders and execute them. This doesn’t excuse any action but it does provide context, which is all important in narrative.

What I like about them is that they are the most human of the antagonists of FF7. You don’t always fight them when you run into them, hell you can even run into them in a bar and pretend to drink with them if that’s how you like it, and go on a side quest within a side quest. You even start off sharing the same goal, chase down the generic genocidal maniac and get in each other’s way.

That means a lot Reno.

9. Joker (Persona 2)

Persona 2 is an odd game, it is separated into two distinct parts. The first part, Persona 2: Innocent Sin was only released outside of Japan for the very first time on the PSP, its original release being on PS1. The second part of the game, Eternal Punishment, was released in North America (sorry Europe) back on the PS1 days.

Innocent Sin Joker

Persona has always dealt with some supernatural phenomenon taking hold in some city in Japan, and in this tale rumors become true. Joker is also the only villain here who has two distinct personalities and methods. Innocent Sin has Joker being a clown of sorts who listens to people’s inner most desires over the phone, if they tell him something they get it, no matter what it is. If they do not have a true desire, their energy is sucked out from them and they become invisible to all but the party members.

Eternal Punishment Joker

Eternal Punishment is a different beast though, it takes place in a parallel world where only Tatsuya, the main character from Innocent Sin, remembers the events of IS. Like I said, this game is strange and confusing. EP’s version of JOKER has him as a more straightforward serial killer who does a sort of body jumping, consciousness stealing maneuvers with those afflicted by the JOKER Curse.

If only rumors really did come true we’d have all men with footlongs in their pants, incredibly super rich, huge collection of kick ass cars, and a mansion filled with a beautiful harem.

8. Kefka (Final Fantasy VI)

Speaking of clowns here’s Kefka. Now, I’m not the biggest Kefka fan, unlike Joker above Kefka is probably video gaming’s closest version of Batman’s Joker (outside of Batman games of course) and is one of the few villains I can enjoy despite being ‘evil-because-evil’. There is a lot of underlying insanity and even some dark comedy in some of his acts. The reason for his insanity though is never once brought up, ever. Kefka is the definition of the super evil nihilistic destroyer, but he’s the best at it.

Batshit crazy is not analogous to literary potency.

Despite that, Kefka is not original, at least, some of the obviously evil actions that he is lauded for performing were in fact mostly based on a villain from an even older FF game…

7. Emperor of Palamecia (Final Fantasy II)

I dislike playing FFII quite a bit. I hate the leveling system, combat is pre-ATB turn based combat and not bad, the keywords system is fairly nice and gives deeper conversations and is obviously based on the keyword systems of contemporary Western PC RPGs. But, leveling is so atrocious that it completely ruins the experience for me and many potential fans. This is the definitive NES Final Fantasy story though, I put it up there with Dragon Quest IV for the best RPG story of the system.

The Epic of Gilgamesh is painted on those huge nails.

Most of this is the result of the Emperor of Palamecia. This Emperor is one of the main reasons we see the overdone Evil Empire story in RPGs. Well, him and the Sith Empire. You remember when Kefka poisoned an entire town’s water supply? Emperor did it first. Cyclones destroying towns, entire nations slaughtered, princesses kidnapped, and Leon, a close ally is converted to his evil cause *cough* Kain *cough*. The reason why this guy ranks higher than Kefka is because some reason is given behind his sudden insanity, he is basically an avatar of Diablo, Beelzebub, Angra Mainyu, Satan, Astaroth, Hades, whoever your Lord of the Underworld happens to be.

Know now the wrath of the fallen!

6. Mother Brain (Phantasy Star II)

How is it possible that a villain with no personality, no motive, no life, no emotion, happens to be better than most who try and do all of that? Well, the idea of a rogue AI as a great villain is hardly new. Rogue AI’s have been prevelent in science fiction in general since the early 20th century. Just go search for ‘System Shock’ and try to find any mention of the games without somebody mentioning how amazing SHODAN is as a villain. The first System Shock came out 5 years after Phantasy Star II for a bit of context.

The lifegiver, and lifestealer.

Mother Brain is on the flipside of the coin though, it is a system that exists to provide a comfortable ecology to the residents of the Algo star system with green, lush, thriving, easy to live on land, along with fresh, clean, sparkling water. However, the AI had been planning to destroy the people of the Algo system from the onset of her programming once the population is completely dependent on the ecological systems and infrastructure control of Mother Brain, she even halts all space traffic.

At last, the final stage of her plan comes to fruition!

What’s strange about Mother Brain is that, in destroying her, the main party of Phantasy Star II kind of fulfilled Mother Brain’s wish for destruction, as the Great Collapse that followed killed most of the population, rendered most of the once fertile land useless, and ended the high tech societies of the Algo system.

Top 5 Finds of 2012

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Title says it all! The best of the best that I managed to scrounge up in the year of 2012. Links mentioned in the video are as follows.

http://tallgrassbeer.com/8bit.html

Check me out on Twitter, and Facebook!
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Psycho’s Gaming History: Top 10 Important Games from my Childhood 5-1

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Welcome to part 2 of my countdown of the most important games that shaped young Psycho!

5 Spyro The Dragon

A dragon voiced by the Taco Bell dog.

A purple dragon with a mean charge, fiery breath, and could glide through the air. This was my first 3D platformer, and my oldest sister and I would play it whenever she was over on weekends. It was because of our team effort with this game, and its two sequels, that helped us beat everything 100% or more. This game blew my mind when I first played it and the original trilogy is still enjoyed every summer for a quick playthrough on those scorching hot days.

4 Super Mario All-Stars

Ah, another good wholesome SNES classic. Sadly during my childhood my experience with SNES games didn’t reach much further than the Mario series. I wouldn’t really begin learning of non-Mario adventures on the Super until the years of the supreme Playstation overlord phase of my childhood. I also would not get the chance to explore many of them until my high school years and current collecting days. But, all that said, when compiling a list of very important SNES games I decided that I would not want to read one, think about my own life, and not have All-Stars be of the utmost significance. Everything, Super Mario Bros. 1, 2, AND 3? And go ahead and toss in the real Japanese SMB2 for good measure? And to think if I would have recieved my SNES much later then Super Mario All-Stars+World could have been the pack-in. Oh gracious me.

3 Gothic II

I bought this game randomly a few months before I bought the video card upgrade to my old PC. This RPG introduced me to the idea of open worlds in a deeper way than GTA2 and GTA3 did. Gothic II also got me interested in the larger world of PC RPGs in general, leading directly to Morrowind and KOTOR leading forward, and back in time to Fallout and even further backwards. Unfortunately, like Final Fantasy I can’t stand the newer releases of this series, but in my mind the first two games are prime examples of how to do open world exploration right and despite being 10 years old, still has more NPC behaviors than Skyrim.

2 Suikoden III

All 3 colored characters are the main protagonists, letting the player see the events of 2/3s of the game from multiple angles.

This game is one of the most important discoveries of my life, and it barely squeaks onto this list. I discovered my favorite console RPG series on a random rental, much like the same day that I randomly rented FF8 and for some reason discovered a lifelong love of the RPG genre period. I rented this game when I was 12, just a few months before becoming a teenager and marking my endpoint of thought for this list. The anime styled intro cinematic had my jaw on the floor and the Trinity Sight System had me hooked as soon as I understood it. Since then I’ve discovered an obsession, and have strong feelings as a fan of this series. This will not be the last time I mention this game or series.

1 Super Mario World & Super Mario Kart

What else should really go here? These two games were the first games that were mine. For a few months they were the only games outside of rentals that I could play. As the first two games for the first system that is mine (and I still own and use nearly daily) this one holds a lot of nostalgic value and just keeps trucking. That SNES has been through many years, and I only hope that it lives alongside me for many more. This well built, rugged Super Nintendo has outlived my first dog, these two carts always nearby for a quick play. Some random days I’ll just pop in Super Mario World and do a quick Star Road speedrun to kill some time. For a bit more of a touching story Super Mario Kart is still the only game I’ve really gotten my dad to play with me, it was never for very long, a race or two on that Christmas day and a couple other times. But, those memories and that bonding will stick with me forever, giving me a good idea of how to be a father to my own children when that chapter of my life unfolds.

Psycho’s Gaming History: Top 10 Important Games from my Childhood 10-6

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Four off white walls surround me, a mattress just resting on the floor ghetto style, a television turned on with white noise on the screen. I sit in front of the TV with a Nintendo Entertainment System between us, my small finger pushes the button, and before I know it I’m running and jumping as Mario in 1-1. I was at my uncle’s house, my cousins being much older than me. I was a small child left behind and I discovered this wonder on my own accord.

This is one of my earliest completely vivid memories, and my first experience playing a video game. No surprise, it was Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt and I was 3 or 4 at the time. I remember the events as they happened, usually not the exact time they happened, my memory has always been that way.

Now I would be personally gameless until I was 5, this is one case I remember the exact time as well as the events. Its hard to forget what is perhaps the most important Christmas gift I have ever received and most likely will ever receive. On Christmas of 1994 I unwrapped a Super Nintendo with Super Mario World and Super Mario Kart as the pack in games. My game life wouldn’t really spiral out of control until the PS2 was out in force, so for now let’s just take a look at the most important games I ran into growing up. But, real quick before we start, I am not saying these games are inherently good or not, they were just important for me, opening a door to a new genre or series. Thanks Crabmaster2000 for mentioning this idea you had done before on the Collectorcast, I’m stealing it.

Number 10: Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island

I was a fairly ignorant young gamer back in the SNES days. I didn’t read many magazines or publications to get a really good idea of what the system really had to offer, and still didn’t know until years later with easy internet access and a constant barrage of fan reviews, my own adding into that mix. What makes this game special was because it was a major victory against the parents. I knew about this game primarily because I had the first one, and seeing that a sequel was on shelves gave me shivers and pure joy up and down my spine. I begged and begged every time I went with my parents to the store for anything and there were games there. Finally they bought it brand new back when SNES and Genesis games were $60-70 new most commonly. Yoshi’s Island remains one of my favorite games on the Super Nintendo, I was a bit disappointed after playing the DS sequel but that does not take away any amount of importance the first game had on me.

Number 9: Grand Theft Auto 2

Back in my day (the mid-late 1990’s) we used to go to stores, not vending machines, that would allow you to rent video games and movies for a few days. This is the game I rented the most, to tell the truth if I could remember exactly how many times I rented GTA2 for PS1 it would probably tell me that it would have made much more sense to buy the damn game. But instead I found myself renting it when nothing new caught my eye on the shelves. This game is just simple, mindless fun. Not only do you have the ability to steal cars, but those bastards in the red shirts would steal YOUR stolen car. The green shirted dicksnots would sneak up behind you and try to rob your ass blind. Don’t stand for that shit, kill everyone, but most importantly, Taxi Drivers Must Die.

Number 8: Deus Ex: Invisible War

I have a feeling I know what you’re all thinking, “Why is a forgettable sequel to one of the greatest games of all time on this list?” So to answer it I guess I just have to tell the story. I upgraded my family’s video card back in the day and this game came with it, without my experience with it I never would have played the first game, nor really cared too much about Human Revolution until I would have probably bought it cheap on Steam and tried it for like a couple hours before forgetting I even own it. All I could think about while playing this game for the first time was, “Its not bad as everybody’s making it out to be,” and truth be told, its not. Its not a bad game, the mechanics and graphics for its day were quite incredible, this public sentiment is more of a testament to how much better of an experience the first game was than its sequel. This one gets double points for not only introducing me to one of my favorite series, but being one of the gateways to more modern PC gaming in general for me because of that blazingly fast and powerful 128MB ATI Radeon 9250 PCI card.

Number 7: Tomba!

Before Tomba!, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and Klonoa came around there was a severe shortage of 2D platformers on the PS1. A lot of studios were going 3D just prior to and in the wake of Super Mario 64. Out of the three I listed the only one I had as a kid was Tomba! I would not own this game today if it were not for my sister, who bought this game for me as a birthday present. Given its current online price I think she did good spending $40 or less. Tomba! is about as childish of a platformer as you can get, but with its mixed in quest system (called Events), circular world exploration, tight controls and gameplay, and humor it is easy to see this game’s current status as an uncommon, in high demand cult classic.

Number 6: Final Fantasy VIII

I really don’t want to put this game on this list. I really really don’t. As a kid I enjoyed this game, why? It was my first RPG. Ever. Final Fantasy VIII being a first RPG feels like losing your virginity to a toothless, peg legged, one eyed, graying hooker and being really happy you didn’t catch anything. As a kid I enjoyed this game, somewhat, most likely because I had never played anything remotely like FF8 and being a young, naive, and ignorant gamer I wasn’t able to immediately see the countless ways there are to completely break the game, nor did I understand literary analysis and how much FF8’s storyline blows Taco Bell out of its ass.

Next week we’ll be counting down 5-1. Stay tuned! While you wait why not check out the previously mentioned RFGeneration Collectorcast on Youtube?

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