Welcome one and all to the first in a series where we pit regional retro releases against each other to decide once and for all which territory got the very best box art! And no, it’s not always Japan.
Over the years, the art on your video game box has increasingly taken a backseat as digital purchases have become more popular. Of course, this means that the arguments these days are more often about menu icons, but there’s still nothing quite like a lovely physical box emblazoned with a beautiful bit of art. Some of our strongest gaming memories aren’t from actually playing the games, but rather devouring the box and every last page of the manual in the car because our parents decided we needed to visit granny on the way home from the town centre.
Obviously, back in the day we only knew the specific boxes we saw on the walls of our local Electronics Boutique or Blockbusters, so when we glimpsed in gaming mags or import shops the oftentimes totally different art on foreign boxes, they sparked a fascination with the unknown world of video games that existed beyond our local shop shelves.
That was back when it might take years for a Japanese game to see the light of day in the west. The worldwide launches we (usually) enjoy nowadays mean there tends to be unified box art across all regions. We suppose that’s a fair trade if we get to play the games day-and-date with the rest of the world, but it does mean we miss out on discovering how different games look on the other side of the planet.
Within each region there were often minor variations related to alternate languages, reprints and the like (and let’s not even talk about the ghastly Player’s Choice variants), but for the most part we’ll be presenting the North American, European and Japanese boxes unless there’s a particularly interesting alternative from elsewhere.
At the bottom of the page you’ll find a poll where – after much deliberation and consideration – you can cast your vote with a simple click.
So, let’s take a quick look at the three options…
The North American version pits Samus against Ridley as she blasts the fiend in the chin. The reds and oranges really pop, although there’s not a lot of context – who or what exactly do those green claws belong to? Is that a full moon to the right behind the logo? However, it’s very clear that Super Metroid is only for Nintendo, so don’t even think about putting it in your Sega or your Walkman.
The Japanese version, which presumably served as the basis for the others, gives players a better idea of Samus’ surroundings and the planet Zebes, as well as a decent look at Kraid, the owner of those green claws and the moon-esque belly. Ridley is also an on-model colour.
PAL regions got a very similar box to the US version, although slightly reframed with a punchy red border in place of the black and the circular Nintendo Seal of Quality. Gotta love the colourful SNES logo on the left, too, although without the little corner tab of the US version we’re unsure if this game will work on our car stereo. Should be fine, no?
Those are your choices! Whether you take into account each version’s aesthetic as it stands in 2019 or let yourself be guided by nostalgia is not for us to dictate – just have a think and click your favourite below followed by the ‘Vote’ button:
Which region got the best Super Metroid box art? (609 votes)
Please login to vote in this poll.
That’s it for this week! Feel free to share your impressions and feelings about the various Super Metroid boxes below (and, indeed, other versions that we haven’t included) and we’ll see you next time for Box Art Brawl #2…