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Cover Critic
The Cover Critic Comes Clean
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on September 14, 2007   |   Episode 65 (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 we have five of the worst covers ever made, including the fattest King Kong wannabe you will ever see. And that's not all; we also take a look at giant dogs in Ultimate Duck Hunting and a giant spider in Chuckie Egg II. And to make matters worse, we decide to give our opinions about Mutation Nation and Crack Down ... no, not THAT Crackdown. This is a huge show full of terrible artwork, so make sure you're ready for our 65th episode of The Cover Critic.
Ultimate Duck Hunting (Wii)
Ultimate Duck Hunting (Wii)

VERDICT:
D-
If it wasn't for the insanely goofy cover I probably wouldn't even know about this upcoming Wii (and PC) hunting game. This is the kind of game that doesn't get a lot of press in the gaming media (the publishers rarely even send out review copies), yet for some reason they do strong business in area Wal-Marts. I can't argue with success, but I can debate the merits of this terrible cover. In the Wii's short life we have already seen a number of horrendous covers (have you looked at that Metroid Prime 3: Corruption case?), but none compare to this pile of garbage. Ultimate Duck Hunting manages to hit on all of the points that make us non-hunting fans cringe when we hear how popular these games are.

Let's forget for a second that it looks like this game is about shooting giant radioactive dogs that may look nice and sweet but are ready to pound and kill you at a moment's notice. The biggest problem with Ultimate Duck Hunting is that this hunter clear doesn't know the first thing about shooting ducks. If he would just look down a little he would see that there is a duck right next to him, not even four feet away. Why doesn't he just go after that duck? Instead he seems to want to kill one of the birds that is minding its own business just flying around in the sky. At least this bird right next to him is invading his space, that's unacceptable and should be punishable by death. The subtitle of this game is "Hunting and Retrieving Ducks," but hopefully it's not that huge radioactive dog who is going to be retrieving the duck, because it looks like that dog would be able to accidentally snort the duck up its nose before it could carry it to his master. And who exactly is his master, Zeus? Who needs a dog that large? And if we're living in a world with regular sized ducks and this ginormous dog, then shouldn't we be going after super mutt? I suggest you get a bigger weapon, dude, because we're about to hunt the most dangerous game.
KONG (Commodore 64)
Ladies and gentleman from all across the world, I stand here before you to show you the eighth wonder of the world. We travelled to the furthest reaches of the Earth in the most dangerous waters to bring you a beast the likes you have never seen before. It's a beast that will shock you, amaze you, and scare the living daylights out of you. That's right, we have brought you something that is so hard to imagine that you won't even believe it after you've seen it. I give you KONG!! What's that? No, this isn't King Kong, and before you even ask, this isn't Donkey Kong either. It's just Kong, like the Estonian word for "cage". Dropping the dramatic charade, this is Kong for the Commodore 64. I've never actually played this game, but I can tell you that it appears to be a cross between Donkey Kong and King Kong, how else do you explain that this giant monkey is keeping Fay Wray captive and our hero (who appears to be a sailor) is pounding him with a mallet?

The first thing you'll notice when you see this cover for Kong is just how fat the monkey is. King Kong was always a big dude, but he was never overweight. The Anirog Kong looks like he needs to call up Jenny Craig, look into Weight Watchers or start eating at Subway. I mean, some of us accidentally drop crumbs on our shirt when we eat, but apparently Kong has full bananas stuck in his chest hair. It makes me wonder if this is our beloved King Kong or Ain't It Cool News founder, Harry Knowles. But while Kong may not be able to help it (perhaps they don't have Overeaters Anonymous for giant monkeys), there's no excuse for the Sailor looking to save the maiden with big, grey hair. This guy knew that Kong was a big guy, yet all he brings is a mallet? Kong doesn't even look troubled by the pounding on his belly; he actually looks like he's enjoying it. This entire fight just looks like it's an exercise in futility, there's no way our stupid, stupid hero is going to be able to injure that big, fat ape. My suggestions: Bring a barrel of pastries and feed them to Kong, that way the monkey will completely forget about Fay Wray and everybody can live happily ever after. Either that or bring Jared from those Subway commercials, he's enough to make even the biggest monkey run for cover.
Crack Down (Commodore 64)
Crack Down (Commodore 64)

VERDICT:
D+
No, not Crackdown ... I'm talking about Crack Down, the crappy Sega game from the early 1990s. This cover is so ridiculous that I thought about not even covering it, sometimes bad cover art just speaks for itself. But then I was reminded of something I was told at a recent Activision party, after a night of heavy drinking somebody suggested that I compile a list of every cover and advertisement that had some half-naked army dude screaming into the camera. Perhaps one day I'll work on that list, but for now you're going to have to settle for this picture of Crack Down that has a, you guessed it, half-naked man screaming into the camera. But what sets this game apart from all those America's Army games is that this guy has perhaps the silliest scream of them all, he looks like a stroke patient trying to tell us something important. He's not even looking at what he's firing at.

And let's not gloss over that point too quickly, neither of these half-naked commandos seem to be paying attention to what's going on. Perhaps if they actually looked around they would notice that all of the action is behind them. I mean, at one side we have a Storm Trooper with a neck brace on and on the other side it's a charging gorilla. I don't know who you target first in that scenario, but I'm sure it would have made the last three Star Wars movies more entertaining. But forget about the injured Storm Trooper and the charging gorilla, the biggest problem seems to be this goat-man-thing right behind them. I may not know much about being on the frontlines of a war, but I do know that if I saw a large goat towering over me that would probably be my top priority. Of course, you might as well let all that fire in the background take care of him, after all I hear goat fur is flammable. Now that I think about it, so is gorilla fur. I guess what I'm trying to say is that the only target worth going after would be the Storm Trooper who recently got into a car accident. Mr. Trooper, you're day are numbered!
Mutation Nation (Neo Geo CD)
Mutation Nation (Neo Geo CD)

VERDICT:
C+
I've always wondered what MC Hammer was thinking with his ridiculous haircuts and terrible style ... and now I know that it's all because he was a mutant. I guess this would explain Dee Jay from the Street Fighter II series as well. But it doesn't explain Milli Vanilli, nothing can explain that. Buh buh buh buh/Buh buh buh buh, Baby don't forget that this cover really sucks; it's one of the worst Neo Geo boxes I've ever seen. But compared to all the other games on this list (Kong, Ultimate Duck Hunting, etc.) it actually looks pretty good. But I'm never going to forgive it for making it sing Milli Vanilli while trying to write a serious review.

The problem I have with this cover is that there's only one guy on this entire cover that looks like he's ready to fight the Mutation Nation, and that's the dude with the weird cape and horns at the very top of the box. Everybody else looks like they're awkwardly auditioning for a high school musical, and not in a super popular Disney Channel sort of way. The guy at the front of the box looks like he's going to fall over when he kicks; either that or his pants are going to split right down the middle. And then there's the really big head that has no pupils. How is this guy going to be helpful if he can't see anything? Thankfully there's a busty woman who looks ready to fight, hopefully she can use her four arms (not forearms, but four arms) to battle the enemy hordes of the Mutation Nation. I guess that just leaves us with Horny and MC Hammer. Now that I think about it, Horny and MC Hammer is actually a pretty good name for a game, a whole heck of a lot better than Mutation Nation. From now on I am just going to call this game Horny and MC Hammer, deal with it.
Chuckie Egg II (Amiga)
Chuckie Egg II (Amiga)

VERDICT:
C-
What the hell is going on in this cover art? No, seriously, I've been looking at this piece of "art" for a good fifteen minutes and I can't make out what the heck is going on. So, apparently this guy is an egg ... yet his color is a disturbing skin color and he has skinny arms and stubby legs. And even if he is an egg, he is certainly the ugliest egg I've ever seen. Let's forget for a moment that he looks more like a weird round man with no genitalia or fashion sense, Chuckie Egg has to deal with having his facial features placed at random. Let's see here, his mouth is where his belly button should go, his eyes are huge and cross-eyed, and his arms are coming out of his ears. I don't know about you, but I think this guy is in the wrong game; perhaps it would make more sense for him to be part of the Mutation Nation ... er, Horny and MC Hammer. And we haven't even started talking about the fact that his big red nose is right in the middle of his eyes, if that doesn't paint him as a freak then nothing will.

But let's forget for a moment that Cuckie Egg looks more like a human that had an egg forced into their body, let's actually try and figure out what the heck is going on in this cover. Apparently Chuckie Egg is afraid of this gigantic radioactive spider (who was clearly mutated from the same batch of goo that got to that giant dog in Ultimate Duck Hunting and the four armed woman in Horny and MC Hammer). And I don't blame him, that spider is large and fierce! But is that a spider web it's walking on, or some sort of bars? Clearly there's a ladder and a building, so it's not that Mr. Egg is really small, so it must be that the spider web is just HUGE. So does that mean that Chuckie is stuck to the web, or is he falling trying to escape the spider? I don't know about you, but neither of those options sound like much fun, we already know what happens when eggs fall from great heights, and that spider sure does look menacing. But you know what, at the end of the day I really don't care what happens to this round dude. Call me shallow, but I actually don't mind if this ugly character falls to his death. Breaking into a million pieces can't be any more disturbing than that face.
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