“Crappy box art” seems to be a popular topic on gaming web sites, and the American NES version of the first Mega Man game tops every list. What a lot of people don’t realize is that the rest of the Mega Man series could easily round out the rest of such lists.
9. Mega Man IV (Game Boy)
Napalm Man is spewing deadly fire from the turbine above his head and Mega Man seems only slightly annoyed. He’s making the same face he would make if Napalm Man were standing a little too close at the ATM.
8. Mega Man 3 (NES)
Ignoring the fact that Top Man is inexplicably green and that Mega Man has a gnome face, the biggest problem with this box art is Dr. Wily’s Skull Castle in the background, which spoils Mega Man 3‘s major plot twist (that Dr. Wily was still evil and was directly responsible for all the events that occur). There’s even a “W” above the entrance to remove any doubt as to ownership. Imagine if the poster for The Empire Strikes Back was Luke Skywalker’s birth certificate and you can get why this is stupid. But apparently Capcom loved this box art so much they allowed it to be reused for…
7-5. Mega Man (DOS), Mega Man 3 (DOS), and Mega Man: Dr. Wily’s Revenge (Game Boy)
The two DOS-based Mega Man games (there was no Mega Man 2 for PC) are notoriously awful because their production was outsourced by Capcom to Hi Tech Expressions, a company known for producing licensed crap like Muppet Adventure: Chaos at the Carnival and the NES Barbie game. Mega Man and Mega Man 3 for PC have so little to do with their corresponding NES games that Capcom now completely ignores their existence. Most game developers would jump at the opportunity to use a license as successful as Mega Man, but Hi Tech didn’t give a fuck so hard that they just recycled the box art from Mega Man 3 for their first game, and when they released their own Mega Man 3 later on they used the same fucking box art. But at least Hi Tech can use the excuse that they suck at making games; Capcom should know better, yet they still recycled the image for Dr. Wily’s Revenge.
4. Mega Man III (Game Boy)
This game’s alternate title was High-Speed Staring Contest with a Snake Robot.
3. Mega Man Soccer (SNES)
This is kind of a weird game anyway, but holy shit, look at Mega Man’s face. SkyNet couldn’t make a more horror-inducing robot if they used clown makeup.
2. Mega Man 2 (NES – European version)
Proof that North America doesn’t have the market cornered on fucked up box art. If you based your guess on its European cover, Mega Man 2 is about a medieval knight with an arm cannon who fights dragons and giant fish monsters. As much as I want to think that’s crazy, the game is actually about a robot kid who fights robot dragons and giant robot fish monsters, which is easily a thousand times more insane.
1. Mega Man (NES)
This is the quintessential example of bad box art, and the fact that I have it at #1 probably makes me a worthless hack. Overused though it may be, it’s likely the worst cover art in the history of video games, turning a blue robot boy into a creepy middle-aged man with a rubber suit and obvious constipation. Any possible joke about Mega Man‘s American box art has already been written, so instead I’ll give you this interesting fact: The person at Capcom USA responsible for producing the game’s box art was given less than a day’s notice, so he called an artist friend of his and described the game to him. A few hours later his friend gave him this watercolor interpretation. This means that every person who has ever made a snide comment about how it looks like this was thrown together in a matter of minutes was actually not that far from the truth.