Are we back? We’re back. Yes, it’s time for another edition of Box Art Brawl, the weekly public vote where you decide the best (or ‘least bad’) of three regional box art variants.
Last week we watched cult classic Wetrix take itself to task. Following a wet and wild wrestling match, the Japanese cover emerged soaked but victorious. Europe wasn’t far behind and North America was left to mop up the mess.
This week we’re back with a Capcom classic: the one and only Mega Man for the Nintendo Entertainment System (or Famicom in the East). Few video game covers are quite as infamous as the North American version, but after featuring the blue bomber’s third outing back in Box Art Brawl #6, it was only a matter of time before we looped back round and took a look at another game from the little guy’s catalogue.
Enough waffle. Arm cannons (and pistols) at the ready, people!
Let’s just get this out of the way, hmm? This is one of the most (in)famous video game covers of all time. It’s so preposterously bad that it inverts the surrounding space-time and almost becomes ‘good’.
The key word in that sentence is ‘almost’, though. If your 7-year-old brought this home from school, you’d probably overlook the odd proportions of the titular protagonist. You’d concentrate on the lovely colours rather than the fact he appears to have a left leg and another left leg attached to his groin in reverse. You’d praise the pretty colours of the burning city in the background, and admire the lovely palm trees and surreal whatever-it-is on the left…
You probably wouldn’t take it in to work and convince them to use it on the cover of this ‘Rock Man’ game they were bringing over from the company’s homeland. No, your 7-year-old’s painting would get stuck on the fridge where it belonged until bleached to oblivion by sunlight or ripped to shreds when the cat got hold of it.
Colourful characters. Sensible composition. Shiny logo. Oversized cartoon-style bomb breaking the frame.
The original Japanese version has it all and gives us a good look not only at Rockman, but also his robot enemies. The brown-coloured blobs which supposedly depict rocks appear more like unsavoury nuggets the more you look, but the central collection of characters is dynamic enough to draw your eyes away from the background anyway.
It’s a good ‘un. A yellow border might have been better, but this isn’t bad at all.
The European version gets a bespoke and rather lovely piece of key art that could very well be the poster for a mid-’80s movie version of the game. The character has a proper arm cannon and the moustachioed Dr. Wily looks down over the valley as robot masters descend on the hero. There’s a big lair in the background and a whole bunch of rocks that thankfully doesn’t look like they were shovelled off the floor at the stables.
That this cover diverges from the original Japanese version of the character might count against it in your view, but we think the image here is fantastic in its own right. The blue border was a Capcom standard at the time (as was the North American’s border in that territory), and you either dig the conformity it provides or you don’t. We’re split.
And there we are! Kitsch novelty value, original anime intent, or oddly-realistic reimagining? Click your favourite below, hit the ‘Vote’ button, and look at ’em go!…
The original, and the best? We’re sure we haven’t seen the last of the Mega Men around these parts, but that’s all for this week. Stay safe, lovely people, and we’ll see you next time!