They say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. But since They say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. But since I've never heard that expression used against video games I figure that it's open season on the box art you see every day. This is The Cover Critic, your guide to what's good and bad in the world of video game boxes. Find out what your favorite box art says about the game inside, and more importantly, but it says about you. We're back with yet another rock solid episode of The Cover Critic, this time featuring Street Fighter, a Monster House, Cheetah Girls, and two of the stupidest sports to ever be turned into video games! Depending on where you live you may disagree with me, but why should I care? I live here and you live there. Feel sorry for yourself, because you're about to be offended by The Cover Critic!
You have to hand it to Capcom, while other companies have warn out their popular franchises with endless sequels, Capcom pretty much gets to three and then says, "to hell with it." At least, that seems to be the case with the Street Fighter series. No matter if it's the Alpha series or just plain old Street Fighter; Capcom just can't seem to count past three. And what's worse is that they do everything they can to milk those three games for years (decades, even). That's what this Street Fighter Alpha Anthology is, yet another compilation full of 2D fighting games from the people that started the genre.
I'm usually a fan of these Street Fighter covers, especially the newer games that seem to appreciate the original art design. I rather enjoyed the Street Fighter Anniversary Collection artwork and can't complain about the Street Fighter Alpha 3 MAX cover for the PSP. But this Anthology is rubs me the wrong way, it's awfully crowded and the colors don't fit at all. This cover looks more like a car decal than a picture advertising a fighting game. Between the "V" we get about a dozen characters from the series, including Akuma, Chun Li, and Ryu, of course. All that is fine, but the red and blue background is just disturbing. I can only imagine how much better this artwork would have been if they allowed the full box to show the many characters found in the Alpha series. I suppose that's just nitpicking, but there's something unsettling about this cover art; something I can't quite put my finger on.
Ever wonder why Americans don't like soccer (or football, whatever you want to call it)? Perhaps it's because they are too busy getting their rocks off to motor sports like NASCAR, Monster Truck rallies, and Drag Racing. I'm sure it's hard for the rest of the world to believe, but we would rather watch noisy cars go around in a circle a couple hundred times than watch real people run up and down a soccer field. And when these "sports fans" get sick of watching people race in a circle, they switch the channel and are entertained by people driving in one line ... for a very short amount of time. I guarantee that this drives the rest of the world crazy; it might also explain why they hate us. If I was a huge fan of drag racing I would hate myself too.
But let's forget about how stupid this sport is for a moment, my real problem with this box cover is all of the advertising. It's hard to find an Xbox game with more advertising than this IHRA Drag Racing game. Just look at all those bumper stickers and decals, this car has so much bling that there's no room left for the "Jesus is my Co-Pilot" sticker. But maybe I would understand all of this if I were more of a sportsman. After all, this is the Sportsman Edition! Is there a non-sportsman edition, perhaps something where only drunk hillbillies get to step on the gas (and then a few minutes later the brakes)? But who cares who drives these heavily advertised drag racers, my point is that you can get everything you need out of this game from just looking at the cover art. Remind me to never meet somebody who decided they couldn't live without this game.
Oh brother, from drag racing to bowling? What, are all the good sports in their off season? It's time for me to talk about yet another silly sport getting attention because of a video game (perhaps we should have saved Rockstar's Table Tennis for this episode instead of reviewing it last time). So this is AMF Xtreme Bowling, a game that appears to have taken its name from DOA Xtreme Beach Volleyball ... only this game doesn't have a cast of hot women, it's more of the fat and drunken white man variety. In real life bowling is great fun, especially if it's a first date and you've had a few to drink. As a game, though ... well, I suppose it doesn't matter how good this game is.
So let's just get down to what troubles me about this game, it's supposed to be "Xtreme." But how "Xtreme" can it be? I mean, it's a bowling game for crying out loud! There's not much you can do to make the sport wild and crazy, at the end of the day you're still tossing a heavy ball down a long alley in hopes of knocking over some pins. I'm sorry, but that's just not "Xtreme," no matter what they do to the game. Even if these guys start taking steroids I have a hunch it's not going to change the fact that IT'S STILL BOWLING!! I'm sorry, but there is nothing extreme about a game of bowling. The recent documentary about bowling was called The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, how extreme does that sound?? And for the record, there is nothing extreme about misspelling the word "extreme," why not misspell "bowling" while you're at it? Just because all the kids on MySpace think it's cool to misspell words on purpose doesn't mean a video game company should follow suit. But I suppose the spelling isn't their biggest worry, the fact that they spent their time on a bowling game should take priority as far as I'm concerned.
When people talk about all of the reasons to buy a Nintendo DS they tend to go on about Mario, Castlevania, and Advance Wars. But look beyond Nintendo's triple-A releases and you'll see a dark side where games like King Kong and Dino Master lay in wait. If you're the type of Nintendo DS owner who has been waiting for another crappy game to come out so that they can waste their money then you're in luck; ladies and gentlemen, I give you Monster House! I've never heard of Monster House, I've never played it, and I probably never will ... but I'm ready to say (based on this cover) that if you were a fan of Elf Bowling 1 & 2 then you better start saving for this gem.
So there's this house out in the middle of nowhere that is haunted by ghosts, monsters, and Fox News personalities. I mean, it's one scary ass house!! So who are you going to send to ruin the monsters day? How about three kids equipped with flashlights and Super Soakers! Forget the Ghostbusters, Harry Potter or even Superman, if you want to get rid of monsters you can't go wrong by hiring kids with squirt guns. I suppose it's nice that they can use their weapon and flashlights at the same time ... already this game is better than Doom 3. But these kids don't look prepared; their faces are filled with paranoia and their skin is trembling with horror. Look at them, they aren't even looking at the Monster House, they are more interested in the camera man that just happens to be there capturing all of this. And while we're at it, why is that fat kid in the middle wearing a cape? Are monsters scared of people with capes? Oh man, I knew we should have sent in Superman!
Holy hell, they'll make a game out of anything, won't they? A few years ago when I suggested an Atomic Kitten game I was joking, I never though these companies would take it seriously. But what's even worse is that up until this moment I had never heard of The Cheetah Girls, I would never have thought to put those three words together. But thanks to BVG this foursome has been permanently etched into my mind (much like the Spice Girls and the Village People are). Thanks Disney, thanks for nothing.
And wait a second, isn't that Raven from That's So Raven?? According to Wikipedia (my only resource for something as stupid as The Cheetah Girls) Raven isn't even in the band ... she just "started them off to make them popular." What's the deal? Did Disney feel that this cover needed a little more diversity? Perhaps they should have put some big fat guy in the background so they would have had all of their bases covered. And really, that smiling doesn't make me want to play your stupid game. When was the last time you played a game with a smiling character? God of War? Tekken? Final Fantasy? Table Tennis? Nope, the games people play feature characters with frowns and angry looks. There's no room in this industry for pop stars with perfect teeth! Aren't they supposed to be Cheetah Girls? The last time a cheetah tried mauling me to death I don't remember seeing any smiles. But if The Cheetah Girls are good enough to make a holiday album then why not a video game? I'll tell you why not, because there's a world of difference between the video game industry and some stupid Christmas album! Maybe I'm making too big of a deal about this, after all their hit single was the song from Pocahontas. As far as I'm concerned the damage has already been done and it's only up from here. I do have one question, though: if somebody bought this game and that drag racing simulator at the same time would the planet implode on itself? Let's not test it.