Video GamesVideo Gameswere a BIG part of my childhood experience. The first video game system that I ever played was the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Games such as the original Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, and Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!!, challenged me to the point of nearly breaking my controller. These games were tough, but one thing I never, EVER did was give up. No matter how difficult the game was, I always persevered — even it if took me hours to complete a level.
However, it’s the Nintendo 64 system that really introduced me to the gaming world. This system has arguably the greatest games of all time. Surprisingly enough, what actually brought me to purchasing the N64 wasn’t just the word of mouth on how great the system was but rather the marketing that was used for the system — specifically, the box art.
The box art was used as a marketing tool for the entire generation of the N64 console. The clever box art made people like me want to purchase the game to find out what was truly inside. This unique tool allowed the console to sell thousands — and sometimes millions — of copies around the world. The box art felt similar to renting a video at your local Blockbuster video store. The cover of the VHS or DVD was what really made you want to pick up and rent that particular video. The N64 games were no different.
For the record, I will not be discussing this list of ten games in detail or whether they are good or bad. All I want to focus on is the box art itself, and whether someone like myself would want to either rent or purchase a copy of the game. Most of these games I have either played and/or currently own; however, this list is not to be biased by any means. Most of these games are incredible and are considered some of the greatest N64 games of all time. Having said all of that, I would like to present you with my “Top 10 Favorite N64 Video Game Box Art!”
10. 'Space Station Silicon Valley' (1998)
The first thing that immediately catches your attention when looking at this cover art is the bold and colorful title. I also love the catchphrase on the side that reads, “In the year 3,000 there are no petting zoos...” This shouts "futuristic!" and sounds like a phrase you would read on the cover of a movie poster.
Taking a look at the overall color, we see lots of red, orange, and purple being used, but perhaps the most interesting aspect of the entire box is the look of the animals. They are not your typical animals you find in a petting zoo, that's for sure.
This box art just screams bizarre, but, believe it or not, that’s exactly the tone this game is going for. Even if you have not played this game, the art shows that it doesn’t take itself too seriously with all the types of crazy looking animals and color schemes on the front cover.
9. 'Super Mario 64' (1994)
Super Mario 64 will always hold a very special place in my heart. Not only was this the very first N64 game I played, but it’s also my personal all-time favorite. This was the very first Mario game converted into 3D. We’ve had many games like the original Super Mario Bros. 1, 2, and 3 on the NES along with other titles the famous plumber is known for. But absolutely NOTHING compares to the first time we were able to move Mario both forward and backward instead of just side to side.
This box art gives you that and more. The art is full of many rainbow-like colors and of course has Mario front and center. The smiling plumber is seen wearing his famous cap with wings displayed on the sides. The image shows Mario flying towards you; almost as if he’s calling you to join him on his next spectacular adventure! A very colorful title and background shows that this game is a must-buy!
8. 'Paper Mario' (2001)
This Mario game is a pure classic! This cover is chock full of interesting characters and certainly makes you intrigued. A sweating Mario being carried by a Koopa Paratroopa? Bowser riding in his famous flying contraption from Super Mario World? Peach horrified at what she sees in front of her (what else is new?) But what really takes the cake is the catchphrase... “Thinner Mario, Bigger Adventure!” Sold!
7. 'Mario Party 2' (1999)
Another freaking Mario game?! Yes, I know. I love this character — but you know what, I can’t help but gaze at the amazing box art that come with his games. But let’s be honest, is this a bad thing? Of course not!
Mario Party 2 is in my opinion, the best of the Mario Party games. No, I’m not just talking about 1, 2, and 3 on the N64, but the other titles released as well.
Anyway, what’s not to love about this cover? Of course you have Mario front and center, but what’s he wearing? He looks like he’s coming from the old Wild West! You also have Yoshi dressed as a pirate, DK wearing a witch’s garb complete with a hat, and Princess Peach looking like she’s about to go exploring somewhere like an archaeologist. You can even spot Bowser dressed as a pirate with an eye patch on a ‘WANTED’ poster in the far right corner of the box.
I’m not crazy about the catchphrase on the box that says, “Get the place jumping!” But honestly, who cares? Everything else stands out on this box that makes me want to purchase this game. It also doesn’t hurt that this is a sequel to a game that was a big hit on its release and still stands as one of the very best games the N64 had to offer.
6. 'Worms Armageddon' (1999)
The marketing for this is incredible. The title alone makes this game look like a fun action/adventure game. I love how the word “Worms” has the nuclear symbol in the spot where the standard letter “O” would be.
The title isn’t the only part of the box that stands out. You have what I’m assuming is a worm that is holding all kinds of weaponry, including a machine gun and a pistol with a bullet that resembles “Bullet Bill” from the Super Mario franchise. You can also notice the gold tooth that this character has, along with a smile and look that appears to be taken straight from the Schwarzenegger movie Commando. Also, the exploding sheep in the background certainly sells this game, because it shows how crazy and ridiculous it appears to be.
5. 'Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine' (1999)
While the title doesn’t scream Indiana Jones to me, what does make me want to purchase this game besides the cover art are the three phrases they chose to place on the front cover: “Pure Action. Pure Adventure. Pure Indy.” That’s a PERFECT selling point to those who are in love with the Indiana Jones franchise (remember this is WAY before the release of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull). Like the movies that came before it, this video-game art is very similar to the movie posters for all three movies. Check them out below!
Like the films, the art does a great job sucking people in to join Indy on an adventure — only, this time, fans will take control of Indy and go exploring to find all kinds of rare artifacts. I also love how the pictures at the bottom blend in with Indy’s jacket.
The game appears to be global and allows gamers to get a sense of the adventure that awaits inside!
4. 'BattleTanx' (1998)
Just the name alone should immediately grab your attention. This cover speaks volumes on what this game is all about. It’s full of non-stop action and great special effects that still hold up to today’s standards! The box art shows you a person taking control of a large tank that recently fired off a round at an opponent. The destruction in the background gives us a sense that a major apocalyptic event has occurred and that many are fighting and are on the brink of survival.
The city in question must be somewhere based near or in New York City as we see the Statue of Liberty looking ominous in the background. I also love how the cover informs you that it is a one-to-four-player game. But it’s not your standard four player game, because they let you know right off the bat that it’s an “Intense 1-4 Player Action” game. The spectacle looks BIG — and you can certainly bet I purchased this one based on the cover alone.
I also have to give a nod to its sequel, BattleTanx: Global Assault. The cover art for this one is also enticing and makes you want to purchase this game, especially if you’ve enjoyed playing the original:
3. 'Banjo-Kazooie' (1998)
First of all, I just want to go on record here and I say I prefer the sequel over the original game, but in terms of the box art, Banjo-Kazooie is the clear winner. There is so much happening on this cover, it’s hard to really understand what’s going on. But that’s what makes this cover great.
At first glance, you can’t help but notice a bear chasing after a gold/sparkling puzzle piece (called a Jiggy) while carrying a helpless thing (called a Jinjo) and a bird that appears to be attached to the back of the bear. That’s just scratching the surface of this cover.
Take a look to your left and you notice all kinds of characters like the shaman wearing a skull mask, a giant dragonfly, a mole, and a monkey (is that supposed to be Diddy Kong!?) To your right, you can spot a giant green witch who I’m assuming is supposed to be a knock-off to the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz. You also have four characters who can be seen near her, with two of them located on her hat, one on her shoulder, and the other just below the palm of her hand.
It’s tough to glean what exactly is going on here, but that’s the fun of it! Box art is not meant to tell you a story but rather draw you into the game by conjecturing your OWN story well before playing the game. If this box art doesn’t immediately intrigue you, then I don’t know what will.
2. 'Star Wars: Rogue Squadron' (1998)
Let me be very honest here: You can slap 'Star Wars' onto pretty much any book, movie poster, or video game and you have my money. Star Wars: Rogue Squadron is certainly no exception to this rule. I mean, just look at this box art! It has Ralph McQuarrie's style written all over it, even if he wasn’t the one who designed this cover. But McQuarrie must've had an influence on whoever designed it.
So, what is actually happening in this picture? Well for starters, the X-Wing and Y-Wing fighters are being chased by Imperial TIE fighters as well as TIE bombers. This also looks to take place on some sort of desert planet (Tatooine?) with a city in the background. You can also notice the famous AT-AT (All Terrain Armored Transport) walkers causing massive devastation to a city that closely resembles Mos Eisley.
Overall, this box art screams Star Wars and was a close second to my number one choice, which you can find out next!
1. 'Super Smash Bros.' (1999)
Mario about to take on Pikachu?! Fox McCloud leveling Samus Aran!? I mean, what’s not to love here? If the pictures on this box don’t sell you on this game, then perhaps the title Super SMASH Bros. will. With the word “SMASH” in big bold letters, it didn’t take long for this classic and much-beloved N64 game to fly off store shelves as soon as this game was released.
The box art does a tremendous job informing gamers what they’re in for. Even the phrase “DUKE IT OUT as your favorite Nintendo characters” should immediately grab your attention. To have all of our favorite Nintendo characters in one game ready to take on each other is perhaps the single greatest idea Nintendo could ever have come up with! It’s like Marvel’s Civil War, with all of your favorite superheroes fighting each other using their respective powers.
I also like how the box art has a cartoon-ish style to it. It has an almost anime-style vibe even though this game is anything but. You can also spot Nintendo fan favorites Link and Kirby on the right side of the cover. This box art truly represents what this game is and certainly made me want to purchase it as soon as the game was released to the public.
So those were my “Top 10 Favorite N64 Video Game Box Art!” What were some of your personal favorites? Were than any you felt should have been on this list? I’d like to hear your thoughts in the comment section below and please share!