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Good Games with Bad Cover Art

“Don’t judge a book by its cover,” or so the saying goes.

It’s harder to do than it sounds.

Face it, we humans are visual creatures, and we’ve all done this at some point, whether with a game, a person, a place, or an actual book. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive to do better. For instance, a lot of video games with bad cover art actually ARE bad games, but not all of them. If you judged these five games based on their bad cover art, you really missed out.

#5: Street Racer

On the Super Nintendo and Mega Drive, Street Racer was lauded as a hit, a viable alternative to the dominance of Mario Kart. The game was less celebrated on other platforms, however, but was still a decently fun time. Perhaps the problem truly lies in the changes they made to the cover art for the other platforms. Did Roger Rabbit go on a bender?

#4: Amnesia: The Dark Descent

Originally released in 2010, Amnesia: The Dark Descent garnered critical praise everywhere it went for its immersive atmosphere and terrifying game play. It’s often listed among the scariest horror games of all time. And yet…I don’t know about you, but that fishman monster thing makes me laugh more than anything else. It looks like it just released the most epic belch this reality has ever known.

#3: Batman: Arkham City GOTY Edition

This is the game that basically owned 2011. Critics loved it, gamers raved over it, awards fell at its feet. For a while, it seemed Batman: Arkham City could do no wrong—until they released the Game of the Year Edition. If you look up the definition of “overkill,” you’ll see this cover pictured nearby. It’s so mired in praise of itself that you have to look twice to even see the title of the game. C’mon, Batman. Act like you’ve been there before.

#2: Super Street Fighter II Turbo

Street Fighter II, in all its various iterations, was another game that was almost universally beloved. Whereas the first Street Fighter nearly bored the world to death, the sequel insured that the Street Fighter franchise would become a household name. The cover art for the different versions was not created equal, however. This one in particular has no resemblance to the dynamic, colorful sprites actually used in the game. In fact, I don’t know what happened to Akuma here, but I bet it has something to do with why he’s so rage-y all the time.

#1: Mega Man

Odds are you love Mega Man. I do, too. It’s one of the greatest platformer series of all time. But this is really the cover art that started it all–the one that was so bad, it transcended time and space to become an eternal punchline. It makes you question everything you think you know. What is perspective? What is scale? Was this done by the high school child of someone at Capcom? The answers to such deep questions may never be known in our lifetime.

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  1. I don’t think Turbo’s artwork was that bad. Amnesia’s cover art makes it look like a comedy title.

    I think the worst offender here is Arkham City. They ruined a perfectly good cover with the vapid scorings of the game journos.

  2. LOL at that Mega Man cover! REALLY?!? All of your questions I’m asking too and furthermore why does he have a pistol in his hand? His hand should BE the gun! It seems this cover art was made before they even settled on a proper game design! Also that face of Mega Man… is that really him or Alfred E. Neuman from the Mad Magazine making a bad joke guest appearance?

    • It’s in the tradition of bad book covers by artists who didn’t read the book. Even some very good books were cursed by this. Like a book about a red-headed teenager having Fabio on the cover.

  3. This entire list was ripped off a YouTube video

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