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Cover Critic
The Under Cover Critic
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on September 29, 2006   |   Episode 59 (Show Archive)  

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. In this episode of The Cover Critic we look at a woman licking ice cream off of a phallic-shaped cone, the world's worst golf cover, giant tennis players, a two player game called Quartet and Wolfchild. No, not the Wolfman, but Wolfchild. We have a giant article in store for you, so let's just got on with these old covers!
Beat Em & Eat Em (Atari 2600)
In past episodes of The Cover Critic we have talked about how the video game companies hint at sex to get you to buy their games. Not Beat Em & Eat Em. This is one game that doesn't hint at anything, it flat out tells you what is on its mind. This is one of those old games that is all about sex and other adult themes. It's the type of game that doesn't look very good by today's standards, but features an activity that will stay current for the rest of our time on this planet. Forget all of the violence you see in modern video games, Beat Em & Eat Em is about something a lot more fun, something a lot more sensual. It's one of the only games that actually advertises that it's "Swedish Erotica" on the front cover. If you don't think that's cool, then perhaps it's because you don't know what Beat Em & Eat Em means.

So how do I know this is all about sex? I mean, outside of the fact that it's called Beat Em & Eat Em and it says "Adult" two times (with a third warning that it's not for minors). All you have to do is take a look at this cover, which features a naked woman licking a phallic-shaped ice cream cone. To be fair, most ice cream cones are phallic-shaped, but then most games with ice cream aren't called Beat Em & Eat Em. This cover isn't even close to being subtle. I have seen pornos that are more subtle than this cover. About the only thing this game doesn't do is promise a happy ending, and I'm sure it says that somewhere on the back.
Great Golf (Master System)
Fans of the Master System already know that some of Sega's early covers left a lot to be desired. They often featured only one character, bad artwork, and completely generic names. But those same fans will argue that it's not about what the box art looks like, it's about how good the game inside was. While that's probably true, it's hard to even want to play a game like Great Golf when you see a cover like this. This is the type of cover that makes you wonder if Sega was even serious about selling video games. Great Golf has to be the worst name for a golf game ever. Well, it is if you don't count Lee Trevino's Fighting Golf. Or Ninja Golf. Or the generically titled, Golf on the NES. Oh never mind, maybe Great Golf isn't that bad of a name after all.

But it's not the name I care to discuss here, it's this terrible cover art that isn't about to attract new gamers to the 8-Bit Master System. The name of the game is Great Golf, yet the picture shows the player completely missing the golf ball. The only thing flying in this picture is the divot you accidentally hit while swinging at the ball. If you can't even hit the ball on the front cover, then how great can this Great Golf actually be? You might as well call this game Learning Golf or No Skills Golf. I'm all for simplicity in game boxes, but if you're going to feature only one thing, shouldn't you make it something good? When I look at a game like this I realize how hard it must be to actually hit that tiny ball. No other golf video game ever made this mistake again, which may be why we remember those games.
Pocket Tennis: Pocket Sports Series (NGPC)
Pocket Tennis: Pocket Sports Series

Hey, who brought grandpa to the tennis court? I know his tennis racket was just collecting dust, but isn't there a better way of getting the old guy some much-needed exercise? You can hide his remote control so that he has to get up and walk across the room to change the channel from The Price is Right to Texas Justice with Judge Larry Joe. No matter what you try to get the old guy exercise, chances are it's going to be safer (and more entertaining) than throwing him out on the tennis court to get hurt. That's just mean ... even if he does have all of his hair and you're going bald in your twenties!

Actually, let's forget about the old guy for a second, what I want to know is who invited the giants to the tennis court? When you compare these three characters to the court, the stands and everything else in this picture you can't help but notice that they stand above it all. Couldn't these tall individuals find their own court to play on, instead of annoying all of us regular sized tennis pros? And why is that guy pointing at the tennis ball? Aren't you supposed to hit it? Is he trying to point at where it's going to go, kind of like what Babe Ruth did decades ago? I guess if you're a giant you can do whatever crazy thing you want, but pointing at the ball just seems pointless to me.
Quartet (Master System)

Here we are with yet another "classic" Master System cover. Like Great Golf, Quartet features a rather simple design that does very little to get you to want the game (or system, for that matter). All we see here are two characters (a bald man and a woman with red hair) shooting at something. I'm not entirely sure what that is that they are shooting at, perhaps a generator or a push cart or a pi?ata. Hmm, what is that thing? And why are they so interested in shooting it? It doesn't appear to be shooing back, unless you count that confetti surrounding it. Wait, confetti? I guess it really is a pi?ata after all!

But who cares about that thing in the middle, what I care about is the misinformation found right on the cover. The title of this game is Quartet, yet it clearly states that it's for one or two players. Even the cover only shows two people. Yet we're supposed to believe this is a quartet? Perhaps Duo would have been a more appropriate title. Or maybe even Solo, since you won't always have a second person to play with. Or if you don't want to go that route, what about Partners? Or Friends? Anything but Quartet. Talk about a misleading!
Wolfchild (Sega CD)

Oh Wolfchild, why do you force me to make fun of you? You know I have nothing but the utmost respect for you and your silly predicament. You know that I wish only the best of you as you grow up and become a full fledged Wolfman. But you've twisted my arm; you are making me point out how stupid you are in front of the entire world. Why did you do it Wolfchild? I could have left you alone, but here you are in front of me completely transformed from a human to a metal wolf. Wait ... a metal wolf?? If you're going to change into a metal wolf then I guess you already expected to be made fun of. There is nothing worse than turning into a metal wolf, it's just not natural.

For being a Wolfchild, it sure does look like you start out as a full grown man. Take a look at the guy at the bottom of the box art; it's a bare-chested individual who appears to have a receding hair line. But he's not just bare-chested, he's also old enough to drink, vote and play with Beat Em & Eat Em (though, after he transforms I suspect he's a little more into the Eat Em part of that game). This cover also shows the painful transformation he must go through in order to become this Wolfchild. How sad is it that he has to go from a man to a Wolfchild? All of a sudden he's forced to take orders from the Wolfadults around him. Oh, the life of a Wolfchild is a bad one, full of Wolflearning and going to Wolfschool. And in order for him to become this Wolfjuvenile he has to get struck by lightning. How lame is that? Perhaps I shouldn't make fun of this kid. Oh who am I kidding; it's hard not to make fun of a cute little face like that. That young, innocent face makes me just want to go up and give you a pinch on the cheek. But I won't, because I'm kind of afraid of a metal wolf ... even if it's just a kid.


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