Monday, 14 September 2015

Box Art Brawls #1 - Streets of Rage series

Many years ago, I didn't really pay much attention to the cover of a game. Sure, I had my favourites and also had my opinions on which ones were attractive and which were utter dogs but it wasn't until I got into importing that I had my eyes opened to how we PAL gamers (and sometimes US gamers) received some really bad box art compared to the original Japanese versions. Obviously the reverse has also been true but in any case, I'm now a real box art connoisseur and have to fight the urge on occasion to purchase Japanese software purely for the cover art (thank goodness for the internet and instantly accessible images!). This then is the first in a (hopefully) ongoing series where boxart from the main three regions will be compared. This certainly isn't a new idea on the internet but I fancied having a go myself anyway. The first series to go under the microscope will be Sega's Streets of Rage a.k.a Bare Knuckle. Hot on the heels of me mentioning the game in my last post, naturally.

Streets of Rage a.k.a Bare Knuckle:

Japan
US

PAL
The Japanese cover certainly has a cool composition and the characters look the part. Love the city at night backdrop as well. The US and PAL covers are pretty much the same with the exception of the PAL version having a nicer, full image. I'm not really a fan of this one though. First of all, you have all these enemies with guns which is a bit inaccurate. Secondly...is that supposed to be Blaze? I'm guessing the artist didn't play much of the game. Overall, the winner of this one is the Japanese version.

Streets of Rage II a.k.a Bare Knuckle II:


Japan
 
US

PAL
Once again the US and PAL covers are essentially the same and this is the one I grew up with. On a positive note, it has that lovely early 90's urban grittiness about it that suits the Mega Drive and Genesis perfectly in my opinion. On a less positive note, there's some serious issues with the anatomy, composition and accuracy here. First up, Max and Blaze look so static and wooden when they are both apparently taking down that guy. Is Max punching or just holding his arm like that? I assume that Blaze is tripping the thug but she looks like she's a) floating and b) half asleep. Oh and look at how stubby Max's legs are! It's like the artist thought nobody would notice with them being in the background. Then you have Axel's incorrect hair colour, Blaze once AGAIN having a completely incorrect outfit and Max being...bald? Did they actually play the game? Considering that there's so much wrong with this cover, I do still like it for some reason. 

The Japanese box however just blows it out of the water. Okay, the character poses are once again a little stiff considering that's it's an action pose (especially Blaze) but hey! Their appearances are at least all correct. Special mention must go to the face of Mr X in the background: as well as being a genuinely creepy addition to the cover, he also bares an uncanny resemblance to a certain Austrian actor who - like SoR's Mr X - has been 'back' many times. As much as I have a soft spot for the Western cover, the Japanese version is still the winner here again. I actually own this version of the game and the cover is a lovely wraparound design that needs to be seen.

Streets of Rage 3 a.k.a Bare Knuckle III:

Japan

US

PAL
 At last, three completely different covers for the three main regions but this is a case of one superb effort versus two crimes against humanity. The PAL box for starters is incredibly dull and simplistic while only featuring two of the playable characters. There's not really anything else I can say other than...what a waste! The early 90's charm of the previous cover isn't even evident here. The US cover however is the absolute worst and borders on revolting in my opinion. Look at Axel's miserable expression and the complete disaster that is the anatomy in this picture. Everything looks wrong but once you've seen the ridiculous scale of Axel's arms, you cannot unsee it. Ever. Blaze is about the only character that doesn't look completely f***** up but they got her outfit wrong AGAIN (sigh). It's just dreadful.

But let's look at the Japanese cover! Once again, it craps all over Western efforts and is the first one in my eyes to not have something to complain about. The characters look the absolute business, the anatomy and composition is fantastic and the whole thing just looks like something I'd hang on my wall. Blaze looks hot and even Dr.Zan - the character everybody hated for replacing Max - can look good in this image. Again, I have this version for the Mega Drive and it wasn't cheap to get complete but the cover and the uncensored nature of the game itself more than justified the import. It goes without saying but the winner is the Japanese version.

So that was my first Box Art Brawl. I hope you enjoyed it and if anybody reads this and has any suggestions for future installments then leave a comment below and I'll take a look!  

4 comments:

  1. First time I ever played Streets of Rage 2, I looked at the box and assumed that Max would be a boss or something. Imagine my surprise/delight when it turned out he was one of the playable characters!

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  2. There is at least for the second one a diffrent Asian box I know cause I have it... my copy is currently put away in a place it would take me a week to dig out but I did find a link online to show you how it looks.

    http://i.ebayimg.com/00/s/MTIwMFgxNjAw/z/zkEAAOSwPhdVGUct/$_35.JPG

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    Replies
    1. Yep, I think I saw that one when I was putting this post together but I didn't want to include a third variant of the same design :)

      I have to say that I do really like the gold Mega Drive logo on those Asian boxes though.

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  3. Best cover is still the Japanese box art for bareknuckle 1! I have it as the lock screen wallpaper on my phone! :D

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