They say "Never judge a book by its cover," but they never said we couldn't judge videogames that way. Terrible videogame covers have a lot of explanations: laziness, confusion, the desire to depict an airbrushed photo of Tommy Lasorda that came to the artist during a night terror, etc. But they all share one common factor: they are hilariously awful. Here are 20 of the worst offenders of all-time.
(Note: We are excluding the Mega Man games, since we already covered them extensively.)
What's Wrong With It: If the goal of the game was to make players feel like they're in a skintight blue spandex bodysuit, preparing to karate chop pieces on a checkerboard while achieving orgasm mid-aerial, then mission accomplished!
If the goal was anything else...oops.
What's Wrong With It: Listen, I get going minimalist. That's a totally valid artistic choice to make. But when you go super minimalist and then include some bad clip-art, things start to go sour. But the real insult is that the game called "Black Belt" didn't even include a black belt on their cover. Just a foot stepping on shards of multi-colored glass (I think). If that's meant to be an explosion, whoever made this game really does not know how kicks or explosions work.
What's Wrong With It: Welcome to the nightmare world of Ultimate Duck Hunting: Hunting & Retrieving Ducks, which seems like it should really change the title to give more focus to the enormous, god-like floating dog head that seems really disappointed in the badly de-saturated hunter's attempt to shoot a duck at his hip by aiming up into the sky.
What's Wrong With It: Ever say to yourself, "Jeez, I really wish I could get a racing game that appeals to me, a guy with a poorly-masked photoshop color filter over my hair who just got caught pooping in my ex-girlfriend's car. Also, I have no idea how 'carnage' is actually spelled." Well - your prayers have been answered! Now start praying for a decent court-appointed lawyer, because you just got caught pooping in your ex-girlfriend's car, weirdo.
What's Wrong With It: Here's what gamers want out of their Xbox pinball games: bodacious babes in bikinis, badass guns, and literally the same babes from before except way bigger and with a blue filter over them. That's what pinball's all about! Oh wait, I mean, those are things that have literally nothing to do with pinball and they're just trying to trick horny weirdos into buying a pinball videogame for the Xbox.
What's Wrong With It: What's the only thing scarier than stock footage from old vampire movies? That's right - a background extra from Saved By the Bell: The New Class yelling at you for forgetting to pay the phone bill again. You've just fallen into...THE NIGHT TRAP!
What's Wrong With It: When trying to sell a sports game, it might be a better idea to show current players on the cover, instead of the wax figure of an elderly manager who is melting under the shiny glare of the sun. Tommy Lasorda isn't a particularly good-looking person to begin with, but this shiny, creepy taxidermist's nightmare version of him is one of the most outright terrifying sports game covers since Silent Hill Little League.
What's Wrong With It: This looks like an on-set photo where Sylvester Stallone was really bored after 8 hours of pretending to climb. Really, all this game had to do was use the poster for the movie. Someone else already did their job FOR them, and they still screwed it up.
Unless this game's actually about Stallone's behind-the-scenes boredom of shooting the movie, which would be pretty cool, but probably not too likely.
What's Wrong With It: Phalanx, despite what you may think based on the above image, is NOT about a backwoods, banjo-playin' old man. It's about spaceship fighting (note: none of the spaceships are shaped like a backwoods banjo-playin' old man).
What's Wrong With It: Okay, to be fair, this is the British version of Deal or No Deal. They didn't have those high-priced Howie Mandel cover artists working on this one like the US version did. Still, you would imagine pretty much anything else would be better than a bored, middle-aged dude with a dumb-looking shirt holding a phone up to his face while a red mystery box floats in the background. Maybe someone won the big prize on the show that week and they had to cut their cover budget to compensate? Some things were not meant to be known.
What's Wrong With It: I'm sure British television personality Keith Chegwin (upon whom this game is based) is a great, charming guy. But this cover looks like Colin Mochrie from some nightmare hell dimension where Dreamworks is making a Whose Line Is It Anyway? CGI movie. Also, "Cheggers" sounds like some sort of fancy British racial slur. I'm relatively sure it isn't, but it feels wrong to say it aloud.
What's Wrong With It: Wow. WOW. The sheer audacity of using an existing picture of the old game for your "Konami's Best" edition is pretty damn impressive. I mean, it's horrible and insulting to the entire idea of videogame covers, but still - the commitment to laziness is damn solid.
Then again, let's all keep in mind that the series is named "Castlevania" and that might be the laziest title for a major franchise in history, so laziness really shouldn't come as a surprise. "Dracula lives in a castle in Transylvania, right? So we just call our game...Draculacastle? Draculavania? Transylula? Wait - I got it! Castlevania!"
What's Wrong With It: This is not what facial expressions are supposed to look like. Why is there a monkey? Is that a Stormtrooper on fire? There are so many problems with this cover, it really boggles the mind. Then again, when you sacrifice your firstborn child to a demonic goat god in exchange for a videogame cover, you take what you can get.
What's Wrong With It: "Remember the part in Clockwork Orange when the hyperviolent rapist/murderer is put through a series of disturbing therapies in order to be conditioned against his old ways by holding his eyes open and drugging him while playing films depicting violent and sexual acts? Yeah, that's what we want people to think of when they think of our fun bubble-popping game. Oh, but let's make it matches holding the eyes open, because that's somehow even more fucked up." - A Brilliant Marketing Executive
What's Wrong With It: Actually, for a game literally titled "Irritating Stick" - this isn't THAT bad...until you look closer. For one, this game cover really drives home that the game IS titled "Irritating Stick" (with MS Word text effects, no less). Also, the stick they include doesn't really look particularly irritating. It looks like a pretty average stick that you would expect to just mind its own business and not irritate you at all. Really dropped the annoying ball on this one, guys.
What's Wrong With It: (see above image)
Look at that. It's a picture of a hand holding a cartridge of the game - with the title on both the cover and the game in the cover. That is a pretty confusing and lazy way to come up with a game cover - but the worst thing is that on the actual cover of the game "Ghost House," there are exactly 0 ghosts and 0 houses. They pretty much screwed this up on every level, or they accidentally switched covers with an unreleased game called "4 Bats."
What's Wrong With It: Horrifying CGI Photoshopped horse is staring into your soul right now and will give you nightmares for the rest of eternity. If you beg for mercy, it will only reply "Neigh."
(Also, wow, they even did a crappy job Photoshopping the girl's hair?)
What's Wrong With It: Technically-speaking, this cover isn't so bad. The art isn't sloppy or lazy or displaying a lack of talent. But the actual design of the thing is confusing - what first appears to be a run-of-the-mill ugly, wall-smasher with terrible fashion sense is actually two different people mashed-up into a single brick-punching Frankenstein monster. Why they thought this would be a good idea for a game cover and not for a disturbing PSA against attempting to re-animate dead bodies sewn together is a real mystery.
What's Wrong With It: You know those bizarre Taiwanese animations of recent events? The guys behind those would be embarrassed to be associated with this cover. Even if your game looks like total crap, you can at least try to trick people into buying it by giving it some kind of cool cover. The really, really weird part is that the game doesn't even really look like this at all. Also, Snow White is blonde in the game, and instead of the dwarfs on the cover, the "7 clever boys" all look like rejected members of the Burger King Kids' Club. Then again, if you actually bought a game with this cover, you probably deserve to be tricked.
What's Wrong With It: Uh. Well...it's sorta hard to single out any individual things wrong with this one, since pretty much every aspect of it is totally wrong and awful. So let's try pointing out the things that are right with this one instead: