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Cover Critic
The Cover Critic Comes Down
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on October 03, 2008   |   Episode 69 (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 cut out a big chunk of video game history and make fun of it. Think we're done scouring the bottom of the barrel for bad Amiga covers? Think again, because this week we're back with five more examples of terrible box art. In the 69th episode of The Cover Critic we discover that Dracula is a polygamist, that turtles aren't supposed to play table tennis, that vehicles hate little kids and that the Road Raider looks a lot like The Road Warrior. Find out if it's just me when you tune in to another exciting episode of The Cover Critic!
Table Tennis Simulation (Starbyte Software)
[ Amiga - 1989 - Final Rating: C- ]
Quick: Name me a great playing game of table tennis? I suspect a lot of you think that Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis is the only good ping pong simulator on the market. Well, you would be right ... but that doesn't mean we can't take a look at Table Tennis Simulation, an insanely bad Amiga game starring a pair of emotional turtles. That's right, turtles. Because when I think about the fast-paced sport of tennis the first animal I think of is the turtle. Obviously I'm being sarcastic, but surely the good people at Starbyte knew that people were going to make fun of the fact that you put the slowest animals on the planet in the middle of one of the fastest sports. What's next, a track and field game played completely with sloths? What were these people thinking?

But we need to reel this thing back in, because we clearly don't have time to talk about the trivial things. How can we sit around and make fun of the turtles when it's clear that that poor guy has a ping pong paddle shoved all the way through his hand? We laugh because it's a turtle, but if it was a human and there was red blood squirting out, I bet you wouldn't be so caviler about the whole thing. You sicken me. All you want to see if two turtles play tennis, even if that means shoving a paddle straight through their paw. There are things that a turtle just isn't equipped to do, and play table tennis is one of those things. So quit using videos games to live out your horrible fantasies, as far as I'm concerned this is still animal cruelty.

Brat (Imageworks)
[ Amiga - 1991 - Final Rating: D+ ]
To paraphrase Sarah Palin: What's the difference between Brat on the Amiga and all of those terrible Bratz products? Lipstick. Apparently when you have a game looking at prepubescent girls dressing up in slutty Sex and the City costumes and shopping you have to add a "Z", but when you're just some homie letting his ass crack hang out you can drop the ridiculous spelling and just be a "Brat". Either way, this cover is absolute garbage. I've never been a huge supporter of kids (I personally don't believe they are our future) and this cover just prove my deepest, darkest fears. The last thing I want is some leather-clad, baseball hat-wearing, necklace rocking, gun wielding kid drooling all over the place.

Something I hate even more than kids is their inattentive parents. Hey mom and dad, do you see anything wrong with the things your toddler is playing with? Like, maybe you should let him hang out with lit dynamite. That certainly doesn't seem like a good way to keep your kid in one piece. And maybe you shouldn't let your kid play outside the next time there's a meteor storm. And while we're looking at all of the dangers, why does it look like all of the vehicles are out to get this kid? It's not just cars, but also an airplane. This kid looks like a handful, are you sure this is the kind of kid you want to keep around? Then again, if he's playing with dynamite and playing in a meteor storm then chances are he isn't long for this earth.

Road Raider (Mindscape)
[ Amiga - 1988 - Final Rating: B- ]
The sunglasses. The car. The post-apocalyptic setting. There's just something about this cover that is awfully familiar, but I can't seem to put my finger on it. What could it be? We have an unshaven heart throb suited up in leather and packing a gun. He's living a life on the run, avoiding the man and a crazy biker gang. He's not afraid to use his guns, but kind of wishes that he could get more of a use out of those spikes on his back. If this was a movie they would probably cast some good looking action hero who just so happens to be an anti-Semite with a bad drinking problem. What is it that I'm thinking of? Oh wait, is it Lethal Weapon? No, that's not it.

Oh screw it. I'm not going to waste all my time trying to think of what Road movie this cover reminds me of. Especially when there's so much else to talk about. For example, why is there a car being launched into orbit? And why does it look like only the tops of those buildings have been destroyed? And seriously, when you're living in a post-apocalyptic world is a red sports car really necessary? And what's with that title? Road Raider? This guy doesn't look like a raider to me. I don't know, maybe it's just me, but he looks more like a warrior ... like a road warrior. Oh wait, that's it, that's what I'm thinking of. This cover reminds me of Braveheart. No wait, that's not it. Oh forget it, let's just move on to the next crappy cover.

Catch'Em (Prestige)
[ Amiga - 1991 - Final Rating: D- ]
Once upon a time there was a game called Ape Escape, it featured a young boy in a baseball cap trying to catch escaping monkeys with a giant net. In the game the monkeys would do all sorts of wacky things and had over-the-top personalities. It was a fun game full of cool locations and funny monkeys. And as similar as it sounds, that game I just mentioned has nothing to do with Catch'Em for the Amiga. But you have to admit that the similarities are striking. In fact, Sony's 3D platformer may be just a little too close for comfort. Unless this cover has nothing to do with the actual game, I'm just going to say that Catch'Em and Ape Escape might as well be the same game. There's just one minor difference between the two: Ape Escape's cover art didn't suck.

Look, I'm not against the silliness of the cover. I mean, I can appreciate all of the monkey's personalities. Heck, I'm even fine with the hopeless kid trying to sneak up on the helpless (and hungry) monkey. What I'm not okay with is the art style. More specifically, the fact that the longer you stare at this picture the more you hate it. I hate how creepy the kid looks, especially with his rosey cheeks and bad fashion sense. And speaking of fashion, I hate how the gorilla in the background is rocking a ballerina's tutu. I'm also a bit concerned about that giant apple, that thing has to be at least two feet tall. It really makes no sense. Then again, we are talking about a game where you're trying to catch monkeys with nets, I'm not sure how much sense this cover can make. Either way, Catch'Em is a good idea with one hell of a bad cover design.

Brides of Dracula (Gonzo Games)
[ Amiga - 1992 - Final Rating: D ]
There's nothing I like more than a good girl-on-girl cat fight ... at least, I thought that until I saw this ghastly cover. So what we have here are two busty vampires from the 1980s. How can you tell they're from the 80s? Because they have bad breast implants and offensively terrible hair styles. Oh, and because Dracula appears to wear his sunglasses at night, which leads me to believe that Corey Hart is Dracula. Or maybe he's not; I think I'm going to need to do more research before I make a bold claim like that. Either way, these girls aren't helping each other's hairstyles much by grabbing and tugging. Then again, these two girls are so ugly that pulling their big hair over their hideous faces may actually be the best thing for everybody.

I hate to get side tracked on a rant, but what makes Dracula think that he can handle the polygamist lifestyle? With their sharp teeth and equally dangerous nipples, these two women don't look like the settling down type. Maybe that's why Drac us standing in the background trying to hide his eyes. If I was married to these two I would probably hide out in a coffin all day, too. But beyond Brides of Dracula, have you ever noticed that polygamy isn't a topic that is broached in many video games. And when it finally is brought up it's made to look dark and evil. Don't they know that all this game is going to do is give gamers the idea that they should be attracted to vapid blood sucking women who don't care about their feelings. In other words, this game wants you to date my ex-girlfriend.


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