Cover Me Badd is my regular series looking at the worst video game covers in history. Each article will focus on a specific format. If you missed it, catch up on Part 1: NES games.
A couple of months back I looked at the 20 worst NES covers of all time, and promised I’d continue by moving on to SNES games at a later date.
That later date is now, and so without further ado I now present to you the 20 worst SNES covers I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen them all.
Time Trax (Malibu Games)
To be fair, when you’re making a game based on a not-very-well-loved Australian TV show you’re limited by what you can create.
That said, perhaps Malibu Games could have tried their best to make the show’s hero look a little more excited.
He’s got a laser disguised as a car alarm keyring (genuinely), and yet he still looks as if he’s giving the world’s most boring PowerPoint presentation. Not even the random screenshot sneaking past behind him can make up for his boredom.
Incidentally, the same chap was also the dad in Pet Sematary, and delivered much the same performance in that.
King Arthur’s World (Jaleco)
It should firstly go without saying that if you want to catch the public’s eye with a game’s packaging, don’t just slap a black and white sketch on there because it’s going to be roundly ignored.
Once you get past that and start to actually look at the artwork though, multiple headaches ensue.
Why does the wall on the left turn into a platform above a spiral staircase? Why do those stairs on the right go up the wall? How come that wizard up there doesn’t have a nosebleed or anything?
This batshit MC Escher stuff definitely didn’t happen in the King Arthur legends I was told about. If it did, maybe I’d have given more than a twelfth of a shit.
Street Fighter II (Capcom)
Yes, Street Fighter II was one of the finest fighting games on the SNES and it was one of the games that helped Nintendo dominate Sega in so many countries.
But that doesn’t mean its boxart wasn’t a load of old pump.
Look at Blanka using his patented “vibrate a bit in the air” move as he blasts towards a Chun Li who’s clearly not putting enough effort into her kick. Look at Ryu, a so-called world warrior, collapsing in a heap without even being touched.
But worst of all, look at Blanka’s face. Just look at it.
Bill Laimbeer’s Combat Basketball (Hudson Soft)
In case you aren’t familiar with him, Bill Laimbeer is a proper basketball legend who was a four-time all-star.
What he wasn’t however, was a pioneer of combat basketball.
In fact, it’s fair to say that this cover was created with very little input from Mr Laimbeer whatsoever, otherwise he may have spotted that one team’s got too many players on the court.
I’m sure he would have also had something to say about that red guy on the right’s ridiculous extending arm, or the fact that the white team consists partly of Patrick Swayze, Pele and a set of conjoined twins.
Imagine you’re a parent of an impressionable thirteen-year-old boy.
Imagine he tells you he’s started hanging out with someone who’s much older than him, wears a purple jacket that exposes their chest, and likes to lie around with him telling him cool stories and letting him listen to their favourite music.
Naturally, you would start thinking one thing – child predator. Now imagine your shock when you follow your child one day when he leaves the house, and realise that his friend is LITERALLY a predator.
And not only that, but he’s a dinosaur and he looks like a proper dick. Tell me you wouldn’t throat-punch him right there and tell him to leave your kid alone.
Power Instinct (Atlus)
Ah, that age-old battle between weird monk guy and shirtless warrior.
Only this time, the weird monk guy has odd scaly things on his forehead and the shirtless warrior looks like his skin is melting.
In fairness, that massive sun behind them is no doubt the cause of the sweatiness on display, and there’s a very good chance the shirtless chap will die of exhaustion before monk lad connects with his classic big-toe-in-the-mouth attack.
Either way, they’d better finish their scrap and run off to take cover soon because it looks like said sun is about to collide with the Earth in a catastrophic manner.
Super Soccer (Nintendo)
Have you ever seen a goalkeeper so bored by the prospect of saving a shot?
To be fair, it does look like he’s got it covered – despite the ball travelling so fast it’s broken the sound barrier, it does seem to be heading straight for him.
Perhaps that’s why he’s so seemingly unable to choose an emotion – he’s happy that it seems like a relatively easy save, but he’s also upset because he knows the ball is going so fast the impact will probably turn his ribcage into sand.
There was never a Super Soccer 2, partly because the cover image of an open goalmouth with a blood-soaked gravestone sitting on the goal line was deemed too much.
If you know your bad covers, you’d have probably expected this one to be here, and with good reason too.
For the uninitiated, Phalanx is a standard side-scrolling shoot ‘em up set in space. At no point does it feature a confused old man sitting on a rocking chair playing a banjo.
I’d assume that this man was a professional model and he knew fine well what he was getting himself into.
But part of me likes to think that somewhere in the deep south of the US there’s still a crazy old man telling the locals about the time “that thar business fella done gave me a bottle of moonshine an’ alls ah had to do was sit thar while he took some pitchers with his new-fangled photomagizmo.”
John Madden Football (EA)
First of all, John Madden is a legend and I won’t hear a bad word said against him.
Any man who once pulled apart a turducken with his bare hands during a live American football game (seriously) is a god in my eyes, so fair play to him.
However, his decision to pose for this cover really has to be questioned, as it looks like he’s just given birth to an American football and is being presented with his leathery new baby by a doctor.
“Congratulations Mister Madden,” the doctor tells him. “It’s a ball.” At which point Madden then tears it apart while everyone in the operating theatre looks on horrified.
Fun ‘N’ Games (Tradewest)
Have you ever seen anything less appealing in your life?
According to the box, this is “a creative & imagination pak for kids 4 and up”, which isn’t even a proper sentence.
But if that wasn’t enough to excite your four-year-old, I’m sure a big white box with words in it will get them thrusting this box into your hands and demanding you fork over the greenbacks to the person behind the till.
Apparently its idea of ‘style’ is a dinosaur wearing a dress, but if they’d ever seen the box to DinoLand they’d know how risky it is mixing dinosaurs with children. Poor show, Tradewest.
International Superstar Soccer Deluxe (Konami)
FIFA may have been the big football game since the 16-bit days, but Konami’s ISS was the one that serious football fans played.
Over the years it evolved into ISS Pro and then Pro Evolution Soccer, so in effect this year’s Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 could really be called International Superstar Soccer 25. That’s how important the SNES original and its Deluxe upgrade were. But this cover is just odd.
Watch as this Italian player leaps into an endless blue void, clearly a metaphor for some sort of eternal limbo.
Stare in horror as the ghost of his former teammate, who’s materialised on the right, tries to tell his friend not to leap into the void. But it’s too late. He is gone forever.
Barbie Super Model (Hi-Tech)
Come on Hi-Tech, you’re not even trying with this one.
I can just imagine the chap who designed the packaging explaining it to his boss. “Well sir, what I did was find an old Barbie doll my daughter had lying around, I took a really low-quality photo of it, I slapped the photo onto a generic pink background and stuck the name of the game on there.
“I couldn’t even be bothered positioning the background properly, which is why it has those white lines at the top and bottom.
“In fact, I think I’ll empty my desk right now because I’ve just realised what’s probably about to happen next.”
Brawl Brothers (Jaleco)
I’m confused by this one because the game’s called Brawl Brothers but there’s only one person on the cover.
Is the other brother bored of brawling and has he decided that since his brother is capable of double-punching his way through a brick wall he’ll probably be okay on his own?
In which case shouldn’t it have just been called Brawl Person? Or is ‘Brawl Brothers’ the nickname he has for his fists?
Or is the fact he’s dressed as two different people an indication that he’s actually both brothers, and you’re actually playing as a troubled man struggling to come to terms with his split personality syndrome and lashing out in anger as a response?
You left all this unexplained, Jaleco, you heartless cows.
Tecmo Secret Of The Stars (Tecmo)
In case you couldn’t tell, this is “a fantasy”, as the box helpfully explains. Good job it did, because looking at that cover most people would clearly assume it’s based on a true story.
It’s not often that a cover has five people who all have unlikeable faces, but Secret Of The Stars manages it with gusto. The star prat has to be that lad at the front, with his magical haircut that provides two layers of hatred.
The first, most obvious layer is that the hairdo is too big for his small head, but then you notice the ponytail on the right and therein lies the second layer as you start wondering if maybe this isn’t a boy and it’s been a girl all along, and you suddenly feel bad for wishing violence on him.
Don’t worry though, it’s definitely a guy. I double-checked and everything.
Tuff E Nuff (Jaleco)
Here’s a general tip when you’re designing a game cover – don’t just slip the title of the game into a big sentence and assume we all know what the game’s called.
How many people do you think went to a shop and asked: “Excuse me shopkeep, I’m looking for a game called Hey Punk Are You Tuff Enuff”?
The answer is zero, because nobody cared enough about the game to make anyone remember it these days.
After all, it was sharing shelf space with other more popular games like Let Us Fight To The Death In Mortal Kombat, This Is The Most Super Star Wars Game You’ll Ever Play and Okay, We’ll Have One Final Fight But Then I Really Do Have To Go Home.
Aerobiz Supersonic (Koei)
“Hello Susan, thanks for coming. Susan, this is difficult for me to say but I think I’m going to have to let you go.
“I realise you have no eyes and I’m all for giving everyone a chance, but I’m afraid your condition is having a negative impact on the decisions we’re making as a company.
“For example, I’m assuming it was you who bought that chuffing huge jet plane that’s flying around outside and can’t land because it’s bigger than the entire airport.
“No, don’t say anything Susan, I know it’s not your fault. After all, you couldn’t see it. Please don’t make this more difficult than it already is for me.
“You’re fired Susan, and don’t let the inevitable deaths of the people on that plane when it runs out of fuel haunt your dreams.”
Prince Of Persia (Konami)
I’m assuming what happened here is that Konami hired a professional artist to do this cover, but they didn’t realise he had serious self-confidence issues.
He started off by doing the artwork of the jumping prince, then he sent it to Konami and they said “we love it, keep going.”
The shock of this praise caused his heart to explode and he died, meaning Konami were left with a half-finished cover.
Thankfully a new apprentice called Susan then came into the office looking for work, explaining that she’d just been fired from her job at the airport. Konami asked Susan to design the rest of the cover and the rest is history.
The Lawnmower Man (THQ)
It was bad enough that The Lawnmower Man movie had more or less nothing to do with Stephen King’s book.
In fact, he actually sued New Line Cinema to have his name removed from the film’s advertising.
But to then slap the movie’s gurning virtual reality villain on the game and terrorise children in the process was a poor move on THQ’s part to say the least.
Still, the film was a bit rubbish anyway so with any luck there weren’t too many younglings subjected to this face of terror.
Final Fight (Capcom)
Capcom are no strangers to a dodgy cover, as anyone who’s seen the infamous Mega Man NES box will testify, but this Final Fight one is really odd.
We’re assuming that the chap on the right is supposed to be Mike Haggar, the mayor of Metro City and one of the stars of the game.
The problem is, Mike Haggar is a hulking big muscleman who looks more like Zangief from Street Fighter II and has been said to be strong enough to piledrive a shark.
He is not a cross between Vince McMahon and Freddie Mercury.
Rival Turf! (Jaleco)
Oh my God, please help me, I’ve wandered onto rival turf(!) and I’ve been accosted by two gang members.
One of them is doing what appears to be a Black Power salute – which is fairly risky for SNES game packaging – while the other appears to be an Andy Samberg character in a Lonely Island music video.
If someone could give me some advice as how to get off this rival turf(!) and get back to my own community without resorting to fistcuffs I’d be most grateful.
Not even the promise of simultaneous two-player action will be enough to ensure all my internal organs stay intact here, I fear.
There you have it then, my list of the 20 worst SNES covers ever.
Next up in a couple of weeks’ time will be my 20 worst Nintendo 64 covers ever, if you can bear it.
If you’re craving more though and haven’t read the first part yet, why not catch up now and see my picks for the 20 worst NES covers ever?