21 Video Game Covers Right Out Of Hell
Everyone's seen bad cover art. We're practically numb to examples of hideous crap plastered on the front of a crap book, or an album cover that assaults your eyes like the warmup act to the headliner waiting for your ears when you throw the thing on. There's no shortage of movie posters that tip us off to the quality of the film before it ever begins rolling. But there's one type of cover that has gone under the radar for far too long: video game covers.
There are unspeakable atrocities being committed on the front of video games spanning every era and just about every platform imaginable. Covers like ...
Tommy Lasorda Baseball
We start with a classic. In the mostly-underappreciated world of bad video game art, Tommy Lasorda Baseball for the Sega Genesis has a bit of a legacy as one of the most recognizably bad. It's easy to see why. Baseball already has a reputation for being less athletic of a game than most, but the second you slap this man on there as the face for your "sport," you might be in trouble.
This looks more like amateur tribute art to a beloved deceased customer at a local small-town Italian restaurant who was known to eat three chicken parm entrees as his standard lunch order. Which, to be fair, is probably something many professional baseball players of that era routinely chased with a beer just hours before taking the plate with a lit cigarette dangling from their mouths.
Blood 'n Guts
When you need a fantasy cover and the guy who does your favorite metal album isn't available, and the guy who erotic Game of Thrones sketches on DeviantArt is at a con, you turn to option three: Handing a glaucoma-ridden art-school drop-out/heroin addict a half-set of crayons.
Ultimate Duck Hunting
When it comes to fiction posters, there's usually some sort of good guy, bad guy hierarchy. Most notably, the powerful villain typically looms over the entire background to let us know just how much of a threat they are.
This then would make it appear that the final boss of Ultimate Duck Hunting is actually a pretty chill-looking black lab and you play as some sort of dirtbag who indiscriminately kills animals of all kinds. If that's not the case and this is just a mistake, I'm deeply concerned with this hunter's aiming with the way he's lining up this shot on that duck.
Maybe this cover is actually great, because this stick looks annoying as shit.
Deal or No Deal
This man does not make deals on the phone, he just makes people uncomfortable. One look at him and you can tell he's the type of dude that doesn't know when it's time to hang up. On the other end of the line, you're slumped over, phone inches from your head as you nod and hope he picks up on your signals. But look at him. On his end, he's standing at attention as though the president just called to give him a civilian Medal of Honor. Or, more likely on account of this cheesedick's vibe and attire, he's getting a call from his lawyer saying that the local Hooters has decided to let him back after his five-year ban.
Bust-a-Move 2 Arcade Edition
The tonal gulf between this cover, and the colorful, playful whimsy that Bust-a-Move 2 actually looks like, is about the same as replacing the thumbnail for Paw Patrol with concept art for Mortal Kombat Fatalities that were deemed too disturbing for final production. This is the mid-90s, where edginess was everything. Have a platformer about a yellow iguana that playfully traps his enemies in bubbles? That cover better be a vulture picking out a human eyeball with the tagline "SCREW YOU." beneath it. Need art for your fun new kart racing game where gerbils ride turtles, Karazy Kart? We heard there's one studio that can make your cover ooze literal blood if you really want to sell some copies.
Russell Grant's Astrology
When you're turning to someone for astrology, if you're a reasonable person, you're already going in knowing that you are about to be bamboozled by a con artist weaponizing dogshit mysticism against your basest insecurities and fears. When you actively turn to the man you're seeing on the cover of this video game, you are saying to yourself, "Welp, I'm about to walk out of this reading with less knowledge of the stars, sixteen guinea pigs, a katana, and a feeling like my body has been through a Ready Player One simulation where instead of shooting guns beside Master Chief, I was trapped inside of the darkest, seediest, saddest CraigsList listings like I was actually really there."
Santa Claus Saves the Earth
I know there's the whole "Put Christ back in Christmas" bullshit that goes around every year, but I'm going to need someone to run that same kind of campaign to get that chill ass green orc in sunglasses and a mohawk, on the right, front and center of all the entire Christmas aesthetic from here on out.
Street Sports Baseball
There is nothing more edgy, more street, than tucking in your tank top to your jeans and shitting yourself in the middle of the road while smacking a weak foul ball. Which, honestly, is exactly what appears to be happening on the cover of this video game. The professionals can keep their uniforms and MLB-licensed diapers that hide the dark secret that you actually shit yourself on every swing of a baseball bat. In the streets, we fill up our bootcut Levi's with pride because it's all always for the love of the game.
Street Sports Basketball
To be honest, any white guy that plays high enough above the rim to do the elbow in the basket Vince Carter dunk has every right to crap himself out of pure shock like this classic street baller is doing above. I've always said that you can't possibly sell me on your basketball video game unless I can confirm whether or not the cover "athlete" has an in or an outie and they're making that easier than ever here.
What's becoming most clear to me, though, through these two covers, is that true street games are about the sports second and dropping huge dooks in your pants first and foremost.
Snow White and the Seven Clever Boys
My eyes scan this cover the same way they do a gruesome death scene on a murder show. They dart around, unable to land on one thing for too long lest its evilness is tattooed forever into my brain. In this case, it's all for naught, because this movement forces me to weave a tapestry of torment that's far more abhorrent and unforgettable than if I had just faced the evil head-on.
I'm certain the ... clever boy(?) directly beside Snow White's right arm is going to kill me. I don't know when, I don't know how, but I've never been more sure of a single thing in my life than I am of the fact that a computer-generated dwarf on the cover of a Playstation 2 video game will be responsible for my demise.
If the "OOOOOH YEAHHHHH" that opens up the intro credits song from Entourage could leave your ears and form an image like a dark vision in a towering fire, it would be this cursed image.
Paws & Claws: Pet Vet
There's a lot to love in this horrific pile of poorly-blended trash. To me, the bunny says it all. He's looking at the camera like the hostage in a terrorist video. It's as if he knows that we know how bad this Photoshop is and he's ashamed, but he's helpless and just wants out and away from this scene every bit as badly as you do. It would also appear that this woman is nearly two times the size of your average horse and that most veterinary practices operate on a farm where animals that are sworn enemies of one another coexist long enough to undergo some sort of diabolical experimentations with their natural sizes.
The Mystery of the Druids
By some strange magic and dimensional manipulation, perhaps the work of the druids, they were able to show this video game cover to the video game cover star and capture his reaction for their video game cover.
This one actually rules. Just a couple of fit guys and a dog with cocaine hanging off of its nose. I like to picture that these guys are actually total sweethearts and that the dude on the left isn't cracking his knuckles for a fight, he's massaging them after spending all day helping his mom with her garden. The guy on the right doesn't have his dukes up, he's a single dad pretending to drive a car like a zany, eccentric city cab driver to entertain his toddler son off of the camera. The dog? The dog's just a degenerate coke addict that is absolutely looking for a goddamn fight.
This guy's face is exactly what it would look like if your particular kink was getting kicked in the nuts, but kind of secretly enjoying it. He's Anthony Pigeon. He likes to tell people that he can skate, but the second anyone puts a board at his feet he says that he can only skate in a Party City Spider-Man costume while wearing an entire SWAT team's share of protective gear.
What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think about pinball? Stupid question, I know. Your mind of course goes to hot, spicy screwing. There's nothing that screams horny boning like pinball, so this cover naturally leaned into what's always barely hidden beneath the surface of that sexiest of games. Take one look at your average pinball place and you'll see a hedonistic hump-heaven unlike anything you've ever imagined. Put your hands on the sides of a pinball table and tell me you don't simply cum immediately.
That's not an out-of-service KISS pinball table you're seeing in the back of your weird, always-too-wet, uncle's garage, that's an object of raw sexual power that you had only better approach if you're really, truly prepared for a Highlander-like quickening of sex that only the steamy world of pinball can deliver.
Picture the iconic Mega Man you have in your mind. You got him? Blue. Vibrant. Cute, but ready for battle. Make sure that's locked firmly in your mind, then hit yourself in the head with a brick and you'll get the bad LSD trip that ended up on this cover. I'm just glad to see that they got one thing right: Mega Man's iconic ... regular guy gun? If there's one thing Mega Man is known for, it's carrying a cop's pistol around to blow away dudes with.
Yes, he's in space armor. Yes, he's being shot at by lasers and shit, but gtfoh, Mega Man ALWAYS USES his pistol from the 80s and he doesn't give a damn if it puts him at a massive disadvantage when fighting advanced wars in space or whatever. That's just classic Mega Man stuff right there.
Imagine Party Babyz
Wow. I'm not a prude. When you need to cut loose a little, have at it. We all need to relax after a hard day. But these Party Babyz? These Party Babyz are entirely out of goddamn control. This little shit in the front is leading the charge with his maracas, the typical battle bugle of the Party Babyz. Like the horn in Lord of the Rings that means orcs are rolling up, if you hear the double maraca, get the hell inside because the Party Babyz are coming your way. The piece of garbage on the left is carrying a cake around with no regard for human life and God only knows what the monster in the background is up to. The Party Babyz have finally gone too far and it's a damn shame to see them celebrated with a cover like this.
Bram Stoker's Dracula
"Hey, Steve, we got a cover for that Dracula game yet?"
*Steve looks at his pile of cover art and realizes he totally forgot this assignment.
"Hell yeah, we do. Of course. Steve never misses a cover. This is the good shit. Hold up."
*Steve turns out all of the lights in his office and snaps a Polaroid of a one-pixel newspaper image from a lunar rover and busts out his red markers, before whispering to himself ...*
"Hell yeah, Steve. You rock."
I understand that this cover is purely a product of its time, but now it scans as something completely different to me. Can you imagine these two corncobs coming at you today? They may be smiling, but they're bad news, people. He's flying towards you to give you pointers on how to use your grill even though you both didn't ask, and he wasn't invited to the cookout to begin with. She's grinning, sure, but that's all to try to disarm you before she comes and tells you that not only is the tree in your front yard not cleared by the HOA (which she is backup vice president of) but that she pulled some strings with her friends at the National Guard to roll up their tanks and bulldoze your house because your mailbox color isn't part of the approved neighborhood selection. Gaze upon these two creeps, because their rollerblades are simply vessels that allow them to get all up in your shit and business swifter than ever before.
Top image: Capcom