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  1. #1
    Your Partner in Crime SnipySev's Avatar
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    Default Why does American Box Art Suck?

    Some time ago I've read a few interesting articles about videogame box art and realized this: when there's different box art for different regions, the U.S. box art usually sucks generous amounts of àrse compared to the Japanese/European art. EU/JPN box art usually features simplistic, artsy, easily readable images while the US version tends to have the floaty close-up of the protagonists staring blanky into the middle-distance, and the simplicity of it is lost making it look like a mess from a distance. I'll give a few examples:



    Rest of the World:



    US:




    Rest of the World:



    US:




    Japanese:



    European:



    American:

    (bonus points for having the sex object shown in her underwear)



    And the most terrible example there is:

    Rest of the World:



    US:




    And apparently this tendency goes way back to the old days. A few examples of old school games if you're interested:

    [SPOILER]
    Rest of the World:



    US:




    Rest of the World:



    US:




    Rest of the World:

    (this artwork was painted by the lead designer)


    US:



    US (SNES version:
    [/SPOILER]

    So... what's with this? First impressions are very important. How many people have turned away a great game because its box art looked meh? ICO was a great game and its massive commercial failure in the US is attributed to its crappy US boxart. Why screw up perfectly fine artwork?
    Videogame publishers, if you're going with different box-art for each region, at least make each one equally awesome, like Demon's Souls and Dark Souls!
    Last edited by SnipySev; 12-22-2011 at 02:58 PM.


  2. #2
    I Like Controlinators Ali_Star's Avatar
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    Default

    It's funny, some of the impressions you get about the US are shown with those examples - in that the Americans tend to be very excessive in most things that they do. Most of the "rest of the world" boxart is fairly minimal compared to the US versions, where it looks like the designers have said "That's not enough for the Americans, lets add more crap to the front cover to satisfy their needs"!


  3. #3

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    US boxart often reminds me of Victorian posters or adverts where you'd have all the major characters conservatively assembled together in generic poses.

  4. #4
    Your Partner in Crime SnipySev's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Ali_Star View Post
    It's funny, some of the impressions you get about the US are shown with those examples - in that the Americans tend to be very excessive in most things that they do. Most of the "rest of the world" boxart is fairly minimal compared to the US versions, where it looks like the designers have said "That's not enough for the Americans, lets add more crap to the front cover to satisfy their needs"!
    Well, some explanations I heard is that they have to "sell" the characters for the American public to take an interest in the game, much like the posters for Hollywood movies (imagine all the movies that have a cover image displaying a close up of the protagonist in a big action scene). Or at least so the publishers think.

    I like it when games stay away from the same selling tactics of the movie industry, so as you see I'm not a big fan on this idea of a box art full of unsubtle visual elements combining themselves into a big cluster******* of messiness. Besides, it means great artwork gone to waste.



    In my opinion, if you're going to make a box art with a character close-up in it, follow the example of Red Dead Redemption:




    Artsy and simple in a way. Great contrast between the character and background. John Marston is looking straight into your eyes and not staring blanky into the horizon like he's avoiding eye contact, and pointing the gun at you, showing the badass he is. When an uninformed person looks at it, cowboys and the wild west immediately come to mind. The red makes the box recognizable from a distance, if you're passing by a shop display like ten meters away you'll see it and think "Yeah, that one's RDR!". And yet when you get close you notice the exquisite details in the red background like the american flag and a group of people riding on horses, subtle enough not to make a mess of the image.



    Now look at this monstrosity:




    Inconsistent color scheme. Various elements basically "sewn" together without any kind of visual transition. No contrast between the title and the image of the protagonist. Some random crime scene in red on one corner above a blue lake that somehow appears only on the right side of the character, a floaty female head hovering above blue smoke on the other. And we can't even make out if she is a murder victim or some random woman staring into nothing and hair dramatically waving with the wind. THIS BOXART IS A BLIGHT, PLEASE KILL IT WITH FIRE!
    Last edited by SnipySev; 12-22-2011 at 04:13 PM.

  5. #5
    Dat Christmas Spirit Speedynutty68's Avatar
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    What about L4D?

    ^ Not accurate time due to me using an alternate Minecraft launcher.


  6. #6

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    I think the designers just try to make boxes that "match" the American audience.

    Look at Heavy Rain's covers. The Japanese version looks very simple, very pure. There are often beautiful landscapes and backgrounds on Japanese boxes, because Japanese players are merely used to this (as they play a lot of RPGs). On the European box, you can see something very dark and mysterious. It's just like a thriller or a film noir. And on the American one: the usual bunch of heroes with a a busty chick, just like any American movie or TV series.

    These are just the usual basic appeals that advertisers use to make sure that they'll have an effect on their targets.
    Last edited by Oddmania; 12-22-2011 at 03:52 PM.

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  8. #7

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    Probably the same reasons that so many movie posters look the same. http://gizmodo.com/5857101/have-you-...-look-the-same



  9. #8
    Your Partner in Crime SnipySev's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Speedynutty68 View Post
    What about L4D?
    Yup, that one's a good example of great box art design. Simple but very characteristic, and expresses the theme of the game perfectly. Battlefield: Bad Company's one of my favorites too: a grenade with a smiley emblem as a pin. It's a perfect representation of the ridicule that is the Bad Company's goofiness in the seriousness of war.

    Mass Effect 2's box art is another example of weak visual design. It has so many elements crammed together it'll become a muddy mess once you take 5 steps away from it. Aaaand more close-ups of the characters. I disliked the box art of Mass Effect 1 for the exact same reason, but at least it hinted that the game was a space opera. ME2's special edition box art is much, much better though.
    Last edited by SnipySev; 12-22-2011 at 04:24 PM.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by SnipySev View Post



    Inconsistent color scheme.



  11. #10
    Your Partner in Crime SnipySev's Avatar
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    Default

    ಠ_ಠ

    Can't unsee now.
    Wait, did Portal come up with this first?

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  13. #11

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    U.S box art tends to be more of a look into the game rather than art.
    I'd guess its because the people who decide on these things assume americans are dumber than our EU/JP counterparts and we need to see what the games about at first glance to be interested in it.

    Not that they'd be wrong.
    But the box art is still hideous.

  14. #12
    Sackperson Sergeant fumetsusozo's Avatar
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    Default

    Yeah i've never normally liked the US box art for games. but look at it this way. games are more and more becoming mostly having download versions or download only. so just little longer and there won't be any box to have art on... heh... :S *mew
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  15. #13

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    While I can agree with some of your points, there's nothing wrong with any box art because it's about aesthetic appeal, just like some of you guys are saying Japanese box arts are simple and American box art is a "generic mash up of characters". That's fair enough, but there's no need to bring down either side, it really depends on your opinion. One could say that he/she favors the American box art more because that person finds simple designs dull and boring.
    I honestly could care less about the box, but I see what you're saying. I do agree that American box art tends to reveal more about the actual game than others.

  16. #14

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    Don't generalize. Sometimes US art is much, much better.

    EU cover of Red Faction Armageddon



    US cover of Red Faction: Armageddon


  17. #15
    Your Partner in Crime SnipySev's Avatar
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    Default

    Of course there are exceptions. But most of the time it's not the case, so a generalization isn't out of order. I doubt anyone can find a list the same size of mine.

    Also, why the hell do they do this to Kirby:




    In every single American cover they edit him so that he looks angry. WTH?


  18. #16
    Sackperson Sergeant CyberSora's Avatar
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    I don't necessarily agree on the MGS4 box art. I thought the American version was better because it portrayed Snake as aging, rather than the usual Snake art Kojima fans love. Besides, our box art differs like yours. Sometimes it sucks, but then once in a while it looks awesome.

  19. #17

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    I wouldn't say that "most of the time" EU art is better. There are so many games existing that it's impossible to compare them all. Some of those comparisons look almost exactly the same to me. Again, it's all about opinion and appeal. It's not a fact that EU art is better, it's an opinion. Some other guy across the ocean might think US art is better most of the time. But is that a solid fact?

  20. #18
    Dat Christmas Spirit Speedynutty68's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SnipySev View Post
    In every single American cover they edit him so that he looks angry. WTH?
    Poor Kirby! Why can't he just be his normal, innocent, happy, pink fluffball, epic, beast that he is?!

    ^ Not accurate time due to me using an alternate Minecraft launcher.


  21. #19
    Your Partner in Crime SnipySev's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CyberSora View Post
    I don't necessarily agree on the MGS4 box art. I thought the American version was better because it portrayed Snake as aging, rather than the usual Snake art Kojima fans love. Besides, our box art differs like yours. Sometimes it sucks, but then once in a while it looks awesome.
    Although couldn't the aging Snake be depicted in a way that isn't basically a screenshot so close up on his face that if it was a picture of a real man you'd be able to count his nostril hairs? That's the whole point of my initial post. Box art should have art in it. And instead of opting for an artsy and subtle image the publishers decide to "sew" screenshots of the characters. Or worse, CGI renders that evoke the Uncanny Valley in a very weird way like Leon in the cover from RE4 and ICO.

    Besides, even the North American box art from MGS1, MGS2, and MGS3 were these colorful stencil artwork, why change now? This is the japanese cover for MGS4 that I forgot to show earlier:





    And this one but I'm not quite sure where it's from. Maybe a special edition or rejected version? :





    See, they're in the same style than the previous MGS's covers AND they perfectly depict Snake as an aged old man. They're still awesome art, also better than the European one. Why choose a very unsubtle screenshot and waste the potential of this?
    Last edited by SnipySev; 12-22-2011 at 07:07 PM.

  22. #20
    I'm deliciouse! Littlebigdude805's Avatar
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    Default

    I never really noticed that before. To be honest, Kirby's blank wide-eyed expression doesn't really suit the situations he is in. I guess by adding those two little scowly brows they are trying to add a little more emotion to the scene. It doesn't really fit some of the covers though.

    Back to the actual topic. Let's try and be as objective as possible. Just about everything I have read here has been generalizations and assumptions based on personal opinion. Personally, the box art doesn't concern me so much. The case just sits sandwiched between my LBP2 game holders I don't think there is a case here that I don't like though. Well, maybe MAG.



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