“Never judge a book by its cover.”
You’ve heard the phrase before and blah, blah, blah. I’m not here to lecture anyone about why you shouldn’t be judgmental, but let’s be honest with each other. We ALL judge everything based on first appearances. They matter, after all. That’s why you always want to look your best during job interviews and whatnot because you know the guy conducting the interview is going to be scrutinizing the way you look before you can even start spewing out the soulless corporate bullshit they all love to hear. So, the cover art for books, movies, and video games are like that first impression which we all base our initial judgment on. And the cover art for games in released in America are CRAP! (Like most things in America). Seriously, if you compare ANY game’s cover art here to the SAME game’s cover in another country the latter will undoubtedly be superior in making a good first impression. So let’s get to the part of this time-honored tradition of bitching out the industry!
If you haven’t already guessed based on past posts I LOVED Quantic Dream’s Heavy Rain. I love it so much that I’m sure most people are getting annoyed hearing me praise it all of the time, so to stir things up a bit I’m NOT going to be talking about it in a positive light. Aside from its clunky controls, occasional glitches, and hilariously obvious French accents, the one thing that disappointed me the MOST about the game was the damn cover art they chose for its North American release. I’m pretty sure that most of the blame for incidents like this fall mostly on the publisher which would be Sony in this case. F*ck you, Sony! I’m getting sick of your sh*t! Stop pissing me off!
On the left we have the North American cover and on the right is the Japanese cover art.
America sucks. Okay, seriously. Let’s compa – GOD, it just… it sucks! Sorry! I have trouble focusing. So the best kind of cover art is supposed to be able to catch your attention from the corner of your eye if possible. Heavy Rain’s story is a mystery filled with all kinds of suspenseful moments. The best kind of cover for a game like that has to be intriguing enough to make you want to walk over to the shelf and pick it up after you initially spot it. When I look at the Japanese cover art my mind starts racing with thoughts and questions. Whose body is that floating on the cover? Why did they drown? What the hell kind of game is this? All are questions that then make me turn the game over to read the description on the back. The American cover art features the four playable characters staring off in different directions with an Origami swan. The swan is the most interesting thing on the damn cover and frankly having four people cluttering up that small amount space is a bit messy. And the fact that Madison is the most prominent as opposed to Ethan (the game’s primary protagonist) boggles the mind. My best guess is that Sony believed only guys would play the game and guys like boobies so there she is front and center. You happy?
Resident Evil 4 kicked off the revival of the series. With Umbrella effectively wiped out by the end of Nemesis and Code Veronica players needed a new enemy to fight and the typical slow-moving zombies of the originals weren’t up to the task anymore. Naturally, it was time to go in a new direction and usher in a brand new era in Resident Evil’s mythos and it was a huge undertaking and a big risk for Capcom to take with their flagship survival horror series. The original RE4 ended up in the recycle bin and later on became Devil May Cry and it seemed like all hope was lost at that point. But lo and behold, the final product blew away our expectations and forever changed the genre Resident Evil (technically) gave birth to.
The US cover art makes several things plainly obvious. Obvious thing #1: Leon’s definitely in it. Obvious thing #2: It’s got a bunch of Spanish guys in it and one of them has a chainsaw. Well… great. Those are two things we could’ve figured out by looking at the back of the box, but I guess here in America we’re just too lazy to pick up something that looks genuinely interesting. We don’t like interesting, we like stupidly obvious. The UK cover doesn’t throw info at you like that because over in the UK people prefer substance over “Hey, Leon is in this one!” The simplistic color choice of red against black pops out at you even when you’re standing 20 feet away just idly passing by the shelf where this bad boy awaits. Traditionally, the image of a flock of crows flying overhead symbolizes death and gives you a sense of dread and isolation. Then we have a silhouette of the chainsaw wielding enemy standing far off in the middle of a dark wooded area as if he sees you and instead of chasing you down he’s waiting in the darkness for you to make the fatal mistake of coming a little closer to him. Fear is the name of the game here and this cover art portrays it like no other.
I never played Ico when it originally released on the PS2 *gasp*. I did, however, play Shadow of the Colossus and I loved every moment of it. So why didn’t I play Ico? It all goes back to judging something based entirely on first appearances. I f*cking HATE the North American cover art for it. I hated it the moment I saw it and for that sole reason I didn’t even bother picking it up to read the back of the box. I think I ended up getting some other lesser known game. Some game that had a mouse and a guy from Final Fantasy in it. I can’t really remember the name, but it probably doesn’t matter. I don’t think it did very well anyway.
I just realized that, once again, goddamn Sony is the one to blame. I should write an angry letter to them, but I wanna be on The Tester at some point, soooo…
Believe it or not, the cover is widely believed to be one of the biggest reasons for the game’s poor sales and looking at it again I can see why. It’s got that kid with those stupid-looking horns on his head and he’s holding a goddamn stick… f*ck this game! That’s what went through my head when I saw this on the shelf and opted to play Kingdom something-or-other. Seriously, I f*cking hate that cover art! And so did everyone else apparently. The cover art used for the European and Japanese regions, on the other hand, are actual pieces of art! I’d LOVE to have this hanging on my wall. The colors are beautiful and the pulled back shot of whatever valley the silhouetted kid is running through is vast and gives you a real sense of adventure. You can still see him carrying a stick, but it doesn’t draw your attention towards it unlike the US version and you can barely see the horns on his head. As a game Ico is held as an example of video games as art and it’s a damn shame the cover failed to drive that message home.
It’s a faceless guy sitting down holding a knife in one hand and a gun in the other. It’s actually a vast “improvement” over the original Black Ops cover art which was a faceless guy sitting down holding just two guns and no knife at all! …. f*ck Call of Duty.
You saw this one coming. It needs no explanation.
What the f*ck happened to Daniel Craig?! WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOUR FACE?!?!?!
If you’re an air traffic controller and you turn your back to the air traffic you’re supposed to be controlling you should be fired on the spot. Also, I love how there’s a dialogue bubble in this one. Like we couldn’t tell what he’s supposed to be by looking at the commercial jets flying recklessly in the background. Those pilots should be fired, too. And if they end up murdering people they should have a crossover with the Phoenix Wright series where they’re facing trial like that Denzel Washington movie.
And let’s end on a funny note made of pure win:
You know what? I would buy this copy. I’d buy it, frame it, and put it on my wall.
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And have a happy Monday!