The Day The Box Art Died
Stephen Haberman | On 09, Jul 2013
It is not very often I go to the store and see a title and think “I haven’t even heard of this, and it came out!?!”
While walking through the video games section at my local Toys ‘R’ Us, I was just browsing the games they had on the shelf and trying to find something I may have overlooked. These days, it is so easy to keep up with the new video game releases. With all the emails, social media updates, video game web sites, web site ads, and podcasts out there, it is a lot different than the good ole’ days of back of the box shopping.
I went home empty handed and feeling a little disappointed. This is silly because I have a backlog of 50+ games, but it was a moment that stuck with me.
There was a time though when walking into a store and finding something new was prevalent, and with the next generation systems on the horizon, it got me thinking about the older generations, and spending every dollar I had on games I didn’t know anything about. I think the final days of that for me was the Playstation 2. There was just so many games for the system that I couldn’t keep up with all the new releases. It got to a point where I was buying games based solely on the cover art and descriptions on the back. I haven’t done that in years, and it is the boom of social media and video game journalism that has ended that practice. I can remember the last two games I purchased simply because of the box art.
Arc the Lad on PS2
I’m a lad and I would love to call upon the power from above to spite my enemies. This game came out at a time when I was really into Japanese RPGs and that style of game. The moment depicted on the cover also reminded me of He-Man’s “I HAVE THE POWER!”
A little refresher: He-Man opening theme
This also came at a time in my life when I had the money to spend and the time to play just about as many games as I wanted, so there were not as many road blocks in my path to a new game.
Mark of Kri on PS2
A Mature-rated action adventure in the style of a Disney movie? I signed up immediately. The mature rating was my catnip at the time, much like parental advisory’s were to albums. The Mark of Kri looked like just the bruiser trudging through the jungle and killing dudes game I could get behind and I was not disappointed.
I look back on these days fondly now but I bought my share of duds and flops. It wondered what other gamers thought about their “buying for the cover art” experiences were like, and so I posed the question to the FRONTBURNR team.
I can’t judge a game by its cover. With the price of games these days I can’t afford to base my purchase on what the box art looks like. In fact, it’s not even a factor in my purchase. I base everything on what I get inside.
The last time I remember buying a game simply because of the box art was Perfect Dark for the N64. Joanna Dark’s eyes immediately made me think of a high tech version of Lara Croft and I had to play it. From a feature perspective on the box art, the expansion pack reference made me feel I was looking at something cutting edge.
My early days in gaming were the late 80′s. I didn’t have a magazine subscription for any video game news so it was mainly box art shopping decisions for the first 7-8 years of my nascent gaming growth.
I can only think of two games I bought because of the box art: Star Ocean and some game where you bred monsters and then fought them (PS2.) I can’t remember the name of it; I googled but came up empty.
The fact I can only think of two surprises me since I’m highly susceptible to awesome packaging and have been known to buy something based solely on how it’s presented. My lack of impulse and box art influenced purchases could be due to the fact I’ve always tended to research a game before I buy it. $60 is a lot to spend on something just because it has a pretty picture on the front of the box. Having said all of that, I do think good box art can definitely push someone to buy a game they’ve been waffling on.
For me, as a kid I bought Mega Man 2 simply because the (obviously terrible) box art looked cool.
The last game I purchased was influenced by it’s box art.
I knew Fire Emblem Awakening was looking like a smash hit but after seeing the box art, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the days of legendary RPGs. Turns out that Nintendo hit the nail on the head with this one because the game is even better than it’s box art. I couldn’t help but remember my fondness of games like Final Fantasy 6 and the like with such epic art.
Ahh yes, I remember it fondly. The last time I based a rental on box art was in the SNES days. The game was Daffy Duck: The Marvin Missions.
I was 7 years old and something about that blend of reds and laser guns did me in. I had to have it.
Back in the late 80′s and early 90′s, renting games was really my only option because my family wasn’t very well-off. Due to that same situation, I didn’t have access to magazines like Nintendo Power, so staying up-to-date on the latest and greatest titles was done via word of mouth and how awesome the cover looked sitting on the shelf. Because of this I had a chance to play a wide variety of games that I never would have.
Titles like Solstice or Faxanadu helped introduce me to genres different than the typical Mario and Zelda franchises that were catching on like wildfire. Realizing that now has helped me look outside of AAA titles and peek at Indie games and low-budget titles occasionally finding a diamond in the rough.
So, we’ve shared our tales of triumph and woe. What about you? You know which games we bought. Do you remember the last game you bought because of the box art?