First impressions mean everything, which is especially bad news if you are incredibly socially awkward (hello) or forgot to notice a spot on your outfit until just before the job interviewer calls you in. This is also the case with video games, and it begins with the cover art decking their cases.
We've seen some amazing graphics on the outside packaging of games. We've also seen some visual crimes that have nothing to do with the contents of the boxes they decorate. Take the packaging for the 1991 space shooter Phalanx, for example, which believes that the best way to convey that it contains an exciting game full of action is with a picture of an old man with a banjo.
We don't know if anything says, "hyper-speed shooter in space" less than that, but we haven't given it much thought. To their credit, however, the Phalanx designers reportedly chose that art on purpose to stand out from the competition, and it worked better than they could have possibly imagined.
Regardless of quality, some video game cover art contains errors that you may not catch on a casual glance, but become all you see once you identify them. Here are 15 of the most embarrassing missteps that you might not have caught immediately. Be sure to let us know your favorites in the comments.
15 GoldenEye 007 - James Bond is very hand-some
We can’t really blame developer Rare for this weirdness on the box for the landmark first-person shooter GoldenEye 007 for the Nintendo 64. They used art from the official movie posters, after all, and it’s more of a bizarre optical illusion than an all-out mistake.
Look at James Bond’s face. Yes, we know — he’s very good-looking. And that description hits a different level once you notice, as have many internet on the internet, that the space between his index and middle fingers on the hand holding his gun is contiguous with his mouth. And it doesn’t help that in this black-and-white photo doesn’t provide enough contrast in skin tones to differentiate the two parts of his body.
It all adds up to a visual trick in which it’s easy to see Bond’s hand as another part of his face with the whole, distended thing lumping out off of his head.
14 Silent Hill: Downpour - It will scare the L out of you
2012’s precipitation-themed installment of the Silent Hill franchise has a decent cover, but you might notice some weird stuff if you flip the box over.
The back of the case contains the game description in three languages. The English and French versions look fine, but take another look at that Spanish version of the tagline, “Who can stop the rain?” We have two problems with this cover, and the first is that it got that Creedence Clearwater Revival song stuck in our head immediately.
But look at the text: it says, “Quién puede parar la luvia,” which seems fine until you notice that the word they were going for was “lluvia,” with two L’s. This would be extra hilarious if “luvia” meant something silly or obscene, but it's just not a word.
13 Virtua Racing Deluxe - Welcome to OCD
The discrepancy on Virtua Racing Deluxe’s cover is almost impossible to spot unless you own several games for the 32X attachment for the Sega Genesis. But it’s there, and it’s maddening.
Take a look at the “32X” on the left side of the box. Looks fine, right? With only three characters to work with, it’s a tough thing to misspell. Admittedly, we type “teh” instead of “the” more often than we care to admit, but we aren’t talking about ourselves right now.
No, the problem is one of orientation. See, on basically every other 32X game, the system logo is oriented with the “X” on the top, so it reads bottom to top. On Virtua Racing Deluxe, however, it reads top to bottom. This is probably not an issue on its own unless you look at it in a group with some other titles, but the 32X version of Doom has this same screw-up on its spine, so you'd see it every time you look at your shelf. And that’s just cruel.
12 Drive Club - The most immersive racing experience ever
The PlayStation 4 exclusive Driveclub is a social racing game that’s as much about forming a car squad with your friends as it is driving in large loops faster than everyone else. But a flub on the back of the box creates quite a different impression.
“Race in hundreds of online & offline players,” the back of the US release reads. We assume they meant “events” there, since that’s what the English portion of the Canadian release says. But they could have also dropped the “in” and been just fine.
We won’t pretend that we’re perfect all the time, but when you see a small error that turns something innocuous into either a much worse or exponentially more awesome prospect, you have to take note. The typo version of Driveclub promises impossible hairpin turns through some internet rando's small intestine, and we’d maybe be on board for that game.
11 Superman - That actually explains everything
Gamers know the Superman title for the Nintendo 64 as one of the worst games ever made. Its graphics are ugly, its controls are terrible, and it has more bugs than the last segment in Creepshow. And perhaps worst of all, it devotes more than half of its content to making one of the most powerful fictional characters of all time fly awkwardly through rings. It is not a good time.
It only makes sense, then, that the Superman box itself contains a grim portent of the horrors that it contains. The game draws inspiration from the Warner Bros. omnibus cartoon The New Batman/Superman Adventures (itself a compilation of the Batman and Superman animated series). But it doesn’t say “The New Superman Adventures,” like it should. It says “Aventures.”
This is by far the least of Superman 64’s missteps, and it’s the one on this list we were least surprised to discover.
10 Final Fantasy VII - The creeping 'I'
The seminal, 1997 role-playing game Final Fantasy VII is an important and influential work in both its genre and gaming as a whole. But not every copy got that opinion across the same way.
One of its early runs contains a printing error on the back of the packaging in which the “i" in “masterpiece” appears to be making a break for it. We aren’t entirely clear how this happened, but it’s super distracting.
That’s not the only difference between Final Fantasy VII boxes. The “masteirp ece” edition also has completely different Entertainment Software Rating Board information than others. This one has a “Teen” rating for “Comic Mischief, Mild Animated Violence, and Mild Language,” which we suppose is one way to describe kids hitting monsters with swords. Other versions, however, list the rating content as “Realistic Violence” only.
Even more confusingly, the ESRB listing for the PC release (which came out nine months after the PlayStation version) lists “Blood, Fantasy Violence, Language, and Mild Suggestive Themes,” so we don’t know what’s real anymore.
9 Batman: The Video Game - The bad kind of recycling
Developer Sunsoft’s tie-in title for Tim Burton’s first Batman movie is already kind of a weird game, because while it only bears a passing resemblance to its source material, it’s still pretty good. See, Superman 64? It’s possible.
Batman launched for several different consoles, but the two relevant ones here are the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System and the 16-bit Sega Genesis. While they both play about the same — they’re 2D action platformers — the graphics look pretty different on the Genesis version because it has twice as many bits to work with. We aren’t going to make arguments either way of which looks better, but we could definitely tell them apart.
But not everyone can, apparently, because the US box art for Batman on Genesis has screenshots from the NES version on the back. They're tiny, but the mistake is still obvious.
8 Twilight Princess - Cool hand, Link
Traditionally, the hero of Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda series has been a southpaw. But some changes in technology have forced the company to change that tradition. And in one case, it left a strange artifact on the game’s cover art.
2006’s Twilight Princess started development on the traditional GameCube console. But the creator also converted the title to serve as a launch title for its motion control-centric Wii hardware. So while Link still holds his sword in his left hand on GameCube, the developer flipped the entire game world for the Wii to make its new motion controls match the dominant hands of most of the population, who would be holding the sword-controlling Wii Remote on that side.
Unfortunately, they didn’t flip the art on the back of the case, so Link is still left-handed there despite being a righty in the game. The later, Wii-only Skyward Sword just makes him right-handed and avoids the confusion altogether.
7 Deathtrap Dungeon - One is not enough
We’ve about reached the height of nit-picking with this entry, but why stop now?
Deathtrap Dungeon is a hack-and-slash title for the PlayStation and PC, and a look at the back of the PSX box may not turn up anything suspicious other than that the graphics look generally same-y, and the art department clearly loved purple. But check out the top screenshot, which features the oddly proportioned Amazon character fighting a giant spider.
Now look at the one in the lower left. They’re the same image. It took us a while to spot this, too, probably because that really is a lot of purple on the back of that box. But when everything else on the case is promising variety (“20 bloody 3D levels,” “13 horrific weapons,” “Over 50 monstrous characters”), using the same screenshot twice is not the best look.
6 Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition - current last-gen
Printing errors happen (as we’ve seen, repeatedly), but usually, they’re just funny or unfortunate. This one had the potential to confuse a whole lot of people.
Certain copies in the first run of the Xbox 360 version of Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition shipped with a small but significant error: The art didn’t include the “360” in the console name on the front or the spine. So it just said “Xbox,” which was a completely different console.
We doubt anyone really thought that this brand-new title was launching for a system that hadn’t been in production for two years, but you really never know with the internet. To correct the goof, developer Capcom commissioned and issued all-new cover art for fans to print and use to replace the flawed version.
5 Mario Kart 8 - Infinitely confusing
Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U mixes up the series’ traditional racing formula with twisting, gravity-defying tracks. And it makes sense that staring too long at the cover art is like gazing into the abyss, but one weird discrepancy switches the experience from disorienting to full-on confusing.
Mario and Peach are driving roughly toward the camera, and the track goes back, turns to the right, and apparently flips upside-down somewhere behind Mario’s head. Bowser, Luigi, Toad, and Rosalina are vrooming along the inverted section, but the longer you study the road, the more you realize that these two groups are traveling in opposite directions.
We understand the difficulty of getting everyone to face the front, especially if you also want to show off how weird the tracks are. But dodgy physics aside, we can’t make this one make sense.
4 Syphon Filter series - The magic bullets
If you look at the covers of the first three Syphon Filter games, you’ll notice some similarities, not the least being that they’re all kind of crappy in general. And that’s a shame, because in the first one, you had a taser that you could use to shock enemies until they caught on fire, and they probably should have put that on the box if for no other reason than we’d simply never seen that before.
But look at the series logo. It’s an exercise in techno-thrillery, with glowing, stylized letters over concentric circles suggesting radar or something similarly spy-ish. And then, before you can think that this entire series takes place inside a computer, they top it off by shooting the titles with a bullet.
That’s the problem: It’s an entire bullet, casing, primer, and all, which is not at all how guns work.
3 Resident Evil: Revelations - misspelled title
One of the most famous video game cover mistakes comes courtesy of Capcom again, when it made a huge oops on the first printing of the 2012 3DS game Resident Evil: Revelations. The front and the back were fine, but a glance at the spine held a bit of a surprise. The company had misspelled the name of the game itself, as “Resident Evil: Revelaitons.”
Errors of any kind are relatively rare, since art has to pass through several levels of concept, design, and approval before a company prints thousands (or millions) of retail copies. But apparently, the artists were so busy making sure that the spooky eye on the front looked good that they forgot to double-check the details on the side of the box.
And that’s the part that’s going to be visible most of the time, so it was an especially big whoops.
2 Okami (Wii) - Oh, come on ...
The other most famous video game box art mistake, of course, is the one on the Wii port for Okami. This is a gorgeous, clever, endlessly charming title that will sadly be best known for this humiliating, glaring problem that hits you before you even get the disc out of the box.
Things seem fine here until you look a little closer at the white area around the wolf’s mouth, where you can pretty easily make out a watermark for entertainment news and review site IGN.
This sad mistake was probably thanks to a lack of available resources and an artist rushing to hit a deadline. And just like with the Street Fighter IV situation, Capcom offered free replacement art for purchasers who didn’t want the flawed work in their collections.
1 GTA IV - It might be a metaphor
You know when you’re driving around in a Grand Theft Auto game, and you accidentally run over someone, and then a passing cop sees you? So you try to get away, but then you run over the cop, and then more police show up, and eventually you’re in the middle of a Heat-style running firefight while dodging SWAT vans and sniper fire from helicopters flying overhead? That’s kind of what happened here.
The original box art for Grand Theft Auto IV had some serious problems in its lower left corner which, admittedly, would have ratings information covering it in the final product. But the red car’s license plate is mirrored, and game hero Niko’s head is somehow in front of his rearview mirror. And that second part is possible, sure, but not practical. He also seems to be sitting in the middle of the front seat.
GTA IV’s final cover fixes the mirror and covers up the plate, but Niko still needs to scooch over a bit.
Which box-art blunders are your favorites? Be sure to let us know in the comments.