Sega celebrates 25th anniversary of the Sega Genesis. A look at some of its best box art design for games like Sonic, Streets Of Rage and Golden Axe.
The “sega genesis cover art” is a list of the 25 best Sega Genesis game box arts. The list includes games from all genres and eras, with a focus on Japanese titles.
The Sega Genesis – also known as the Mega Drive by others – was one of SEGA’s most well-known platforms and their main competitor in the console wars with the Super Nintendo.
The conflict was fought on many fronts, with SEGA dominating the video game box art.
SEGA’s covers were more realistic and mature, according to everyone who was present at the time. They made games appear badass, which helped them appeal to an older demographic.
Now that the “battle” is over, we’re left with the spoils: a catalog of games with amazing box art that we’d all want to put on display in our homes.
Let’s take a look at the finest of the bunch.
Grind Stormer (#25) (1993)
Grind Stormer is a terrific vertical shooter created by some of the brightest brains in the industry but sadly did not get the commercial success it deserved.
The artist’s mastery of perspective is what I like the most about this cover image. It seems as though the ship is poised to break free from its confines.
Of course, the ship’s design is fantastic as well. Those firearms in particular!
It’s also worth noting that the artist took care to incorporate the two little drones that follow you around in the game.
Kolibri (number 24) (1995)
Most parents have given up on controlling what their children eat on their consoles in the twenty-first century, but it was a serious business in the 1990s.
Kolibri is an example of a game development firm that uses its ingenuity to go around parents and provide fantastic gaming experiences to children.
The game’s box cover, with its stylish typography and angry-looking hummingbird, seeks to convey the game’s dynamic and action-focused gameplay while also pleasing parents with its vibrant surroundings.
This is the ideal game to expose your eight-year-old to side-scrolling shooters from the past.
Splatterhouse 2 is number 23 on the list (1992)
The cover image for Splatterhouse 2 looks like a horror movie poster, except there are no victims.
The Terror Mask transforms protagonist Rick into Friday the 13th’s Jason. It seems more like a monster battle royale than a hero fighting for life as he fights a bootleg Xenomorph and a sharp-toothed ghost.
Despite the fact that it is a violent incident, it has a cartoonish goofiness about it that reminds me of B-movie posters.
It’s a vibrant throwback to the past.
Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie (Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie) (Mighty Morphin’ Power
Back in the day, the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers beat-em-ups were rather popular, and MMPR: The Movie on the Genesis is the greatest of the lot – particularly when compared to the SNES version.
It also comes with much superior packaging.
Unlike the SNES version, which contains the movie’s logo and a real-life photo of the White Ranger, this one uses an interesting composition that includes each ranger’s profile.
The Power Rangers are all about working together, and everyone has a favorite character. It was a wise decision to include them all, and the dramatic impact it generates makes you feel like you’re in for something huge.
Fire Shark (number 21) (1990)
Fire Shark is a solid vertical-scrolling shooter that was initially launched in arcades. It may sound like an early version of Shark Boy & Lava Girl.
The game may be described as a WWII-style shooter, however it doesn’t take place during that time of history — it’s only visually and technologically comparable.
The cover art is both correct and deceptive at the same time.
On one side, you can see the player plane spewing fire and a swarm of opposing planes in the backdrop, but there’s also a massive shark figure in the background.
It’s supposed to convey the notion that the player is a “flying shark,” but the absence of genuine huge airborne sharks would have disappointed me.
MERCS (20.) (1991)
When I’m searching for an old-school run-and-gun, I know exactly what I’m looking for.
Manly men, explosions, and as much gunpowder and lead as the system will allow are all required.
That is exactly what the cover image for MERCS suggests.
Everyone on the cover is ‘roided up, armed with machine guns, and brave enough to take on tanks, helicopters, and fighter aircraft on their own.
It’s badass, and that’s enough to get me to purchase it.
Wolfchild (19.) (1992)
Next up is Wolfchild, a fantastic action platformer in which the protagonist may transform into a werewolf if he collects enough energy.
You’d be excused for assuming you’d spend the whole game as a wolf based on the cover graphics. It wasn’t even a werewolf; it was simply an ordinary wolf.
I have to confess, the animal’s tremendous hostility is rather appealing. Its glare is piercing, its fangs are even piercing, and the tiny drool on its bottom lip screams animalistic brutality.
You would have purchased this if you were seeking for a violent game at the shop.
Mortal Kombat 18 (1993)
I’m not sure what to say.
The classics are unbeatable.
Making cover art that is easily identifiable is crucial, particularly when games must be purchased in stores rather than online.
This basic design, with its bright, clashing colors, became a symbol of violent gaming as a whole. Many individuals have the MK dragon seal tattooed on their body, and I even have gamer decor with this renowned emblem.
Galaxy Force II (#17) (1988)
Galaxy Force II distinguishes itself from previous rail shooters thanks to Sega’s “super scaler” technology, which enabled the game’s sprites and backdrops to be dynamically scaled to better convey depth.
As a result, the box art needed to emphasize perspective and depth.
Many components, such as robots and spacecraft, can be seen flying toward what seems to be a mothership above a lava field.
In order to mimic the game’s pseudo-3D effect, several elements were portrayed as being at varied distances from the observer.
16. Aladdin (Disney) (1992)
For good reason, tie-in games have a bad reputation.
But with Aladdin on the Genesis, Disney truly knocked it out of the park.
It was one of the console’s best-selling titles, and it deserved it.
The graphics and backdrops are stunning, and the gameplay is good. It looks just like the film!
The box art is also a masterpiece. The colors are vibrant, and it features all of the game’s important characters.
The choice of an action-packed scenario with Aladdin swinging his scimitar against Jafar really depicts the gameplay, and it would make everyone want to rush home and start slaying some evil guys.
Tom Mason’s Dinosaurs for Hire is number fifteen (1993)
You have to like this cover’s unashamed lunacy.
People nowadays choose boxes that are both attractive and functional.
Expectations were not as high back then.
You just wanted something showy and enjoyable.
The solution was to use muscular, weapon-wielding dinosaurs.
We can’t blame the game creators for this ridiculous scenario since the game is based on a renowned American comic book series from 1988. Still, the cover’s hyper-masculinity was emblematic of the gaming age, and we’re unlikely to see something exactly like it again.
14. The End Zone (1990)
Final Zone is a one-of-a-kind isometric shooter set 100 years in the future, when humanity’s battles are waged with incredible mechs known as New Age Power Suits.
NAPS is represented front and center on the cover, in contrasting steely blue and deep scarlet tones.
While it isn’t the same cover as the original Japanese release, it does have an Eastern flavor to it – however I believe the tanks and helicopters were added to tone it down.
Alisia Dragoon (13), Alisia Dragoon (13), Alisi (1992)
The fantasy genre has evolved significantly throughout the years, yet certain characteristics remain constant.
Dragons are one among them.
We don’t seem to get bored of the scaly animals, which have become associated with the genre. Zombies, vampires, and wizards are all fads, but what about dragons? They’re a must-have!
The cover of Alisia Dragoon combines our passion of fire-breathing dragons with our enthusiasm for well-toned bodies, which can be seen on both the heroine and her foes.
Why is everyone in these covers so toned?
Ghouls n’ Ghosts is a game about ghouls and ghosts (1989)
Rather of calling the sequel to the classic action platformer Ghosts’ n Goblins 2, Capcom opted to call it Ghouls’ n Goblins.
Their marketing rationale does not appeal to me.
However, it assisted Capcom in distinguishing the game from its predecessor and marketing it to a more adult audience.
The box cover for the Sega Genesis version follows same reasoning, with a more realistic, badass depiction of a golden-clad knight with a big lance preparing to battle the headless demon that looms above him replacing the cartoony aesthetic of the original.
Herzog Zwei (No. 11) (1990)
Fans of MOBA games such as League of Legends and Smite should remember Herzog Zwei, one of the first real-time strategy games.
While the box art does not indicate that the game is an RTS rather than a shoot-em-up like every other game with an aircraft on the cover at the time, it properly depicts many of the game’s aspects, including fighter planes, massive mechas, tanks, and more.
The artist’s command of perspective is outstanding. And the battle between jet fighters, ground soldiers, and massive robots could not be more spectacular.
Sonic the Hedgehog is number ten (1991)
Sonic the Hedgehog’s debut game needed to create an impression in order for the mascot to stay, and the cover art was the first step on the long road to brand awareness.
Sonic has a circular shape that appeals to children. Sonic’s finger-wagging attitude has a certain 90s swagger about it, as if to proclaim, “I’m a super-fast hedgehog.” “Get down on my level.”
It’s not nearly as thrilling or dynamic as the game itself. It was, however, recognisable, and most of us remember it favorably.
I also like how they placed a 360-degree loop in the backdrop, as if no one knew what it was until they played Green Hill Zone.
9. Worlds of the Forgotten (1988)
Why didn’t anybody inform me that Destiny was based on a side-scrolling shooter from the 1980s?
Putting jokes aside, I can’t help but notice a strong resemblance between this box’s appearance and that of my favorite looter-shooter. The massive planet behind them may easily be the Traveler, and these two fantastic space troopers appear remarkably like Guardians.
Aesthetics lured me to Destiny in the first place, and they’re still pushing me to play this game right now.
With two beefcakes with large guns and even bigger biceps, you can’t go wrong. The sunglasses add a wonderful touch, assuring me that they’ll be able to handle anything the game throws at them… assuming I don’t screw up the controls.
ESWAT: City Under Siege (ESWAT: City Under Siege) (ESWAT: City Under (1990)
Things had to be done the hard way before the introduction of 3D graphics and special effects.
You couldn’t simply develop 3D models if you wanted a crazy sci-fi cover that looked realistic — you had to hire an artist with a meticulous, lifelike art style and have them sketch your wildest desires.
This generated a distinct style that can be seen in a lot of old-school movie and video game imagery, and it’s on full show on ESWAT’s cover.
It has a lot of drama and is highly intriguing.
It’s the type of stuff you’d be happy to have in your collection, and it’ll instantly take you to the early 1990s.
Phantasy Star II is the seventh installment in the Phantasy Star franchise (1989)
The Phantasy Star JRPG series has a long history of fantastic covers.
And the series’ second game is the best of the bunch (at least among Western releases).
Not only is the visual style stunning, but the setting also sells you on a space opera trip unlike any you’ve seen before. There are futuristic weaponry, strange insect-like alien species, and a metropolis in the distance that seems to be a huge eye.
The sticker with the 6 Megabyte Memory is also a great plus.
It was the first game to use such a sophisticated cartridge, and it promised a huge adventure, which it delivered. A 110-page handbook was also included, which was a lifesaver back when the Internet wasn’t available to assist you.
6. Phantasy Star IV: The Millennium’s End (JP) (1993)
The Japanese have an edge when it comes to JRPG box art.
They also don’t have to worry about their covers being “Westernized.”
Beautiful sceneries in the style of vintage anime and manga from the 1980s and 1990s result.
A good example is Phantasy Star IV.
The unabashedly Japanese graphic style allows for a lot of detail, which shines in places like the robot arm on the dangerously scantily-clad pink-haired woman on the back of the box.
I really like how the front panel depicts the enormous alien demon ruler hovering over the protagonists. It’s badass in a manner that most Western drawings at the time couldn’t match.
5. The Beast Alternate (1988)
Altered Beast was a Sega Genesis pack-in game that was a terrific way to get your feet wet with Sega’s newest machine.
You know you’re in for a crazy (and brutal) trip from the minute you see the cover.
It exposes you to many of the animals you’ll be battling or playing as in this beat-em-up, and it uses a dark color palette to create a dismal atmosphere.
It also ensures that, despite the many terrifying monsters, your character is a jacked werewolf capable of bringing them all to heel. In a beat-em-up, selling the power fantasy is crucial.
4. Mega Drive (Streets of Rage) (1991)
For this rating, I am not taking the quality of these games into consideration. However, many of the finest Genesis games feature fantastic cover art.
In this situation, I’d have to classify it as a Mega Drive game.
The North American cover for the critically praised beat-em-up Streets of Rage is really excellent, but the European edition is on another level.
It’s a lot more interesting and exciting. It shows off some of the combat skills you’ll employ in the game, and I found the green dude peering out from behind the manhole to be quite amusing.
3. Toki: Spitting Ape (1992)
Toki is one of my favorite characters.
The game is a test of unrestricted inventiveness. The environment is ludicrous, the main character’s abilities are strange, and the whole experience seems like a fever dream from start to finish.
This is implied by the cover, which shows Toki, the magical monkey-man, doing what he does best: spewing energy balls at the surrounding fauna.
You’d be excused for assuming Toki is the evil guy based on the cover. I mean, his look isn’t exactly heroic…
Even still, if your bride-to-be was taken, you’d be very savage.
Golden Axe II is the second installment of the Golden Axe series (1991)
Everyone was absolutely wired in the early 1990s – at least in video games, as we’ve previously mentioned.
Golden Axe II’s cover image featured the characters’ muscles prominently.
It’s promoting a dream of power for anybody who plays it.
There’s a big, hyper-muscular barbarian in a loincloth that barely covers his nether regions, a similarly scantily-clad Viking with just as much muscle mass, and a super-hot, super-fit Amazoness riding a dinosaur in an unabashedly contemporary bikini.
It is illogical.
But no one seems to mind.
We’ve come to feel strong when stomping on swarms of nasty goons.
1. Super Shinobi II (Japanese) (1993)
This fantastic hack-and-slash platformer, known in the United States as Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master, is my single favorite cover art in the whole Genesis database.
While the US edition has a decent Western-styled cover featuring ninja and samurai holding their weapons of choice, it lacks the punch of the Japanese edition.
We show the shinobi in the thick of a combat rather than simply standing about with a sword.
He’s undoubtedly pained, and his clothing are ripped, yet he stands firm against a shadowy figure we can only see via the frame’s bottom borders.
The massive moon in the rear (along with the superb detail) is what elevates this cover to the top.
It gives a lot of drama and contrast to the gloomy surroundings, and it’s just plain lovely.
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