Welcome to the eighth round of Box Art Brawl, the series where we throw a trio of regional retro box arts into a weapon-filled pit to see which one scrambles out victorious, though covered in blood and spittle.
Last time we saw three Star Foxes dogfighting over Corneria and a week later we can confirm that Japan emerged victorious and largely unscathed from the laser battle. Europe went down in a distant second place while North America crashed and burned in third like Slippy Toad. "FOOOOX!"
This week we head back to the '80s, a time when big guns and big hair were de rigueur and art for video game boxes was liberally, er... 'borrowed' from the finest sources available. You might recognise the still of Michael Biehn which provided the foundation of all three of the covers below, but regardless of the ‘inspiration’, we think we’ve got a real scrap on our hands this week. Every region offers a different take on the same key art and none of them are obviously inferior - they even all share the same orientation.
So, today we'll see which of the original NES/Famicom covers for Konami's Metal Gear can stealthily take down the competition - it's arguable that the playing field has never been more level. Originally released on the MSX2 computer in Japan and the genesis of Hideo Kojima's epic series, the Nintendo port of the game differs in various ways, but it served as Solid Snake's introduction to the west, and that guy's certainly had a successful career over the last three decades.
He's also got form when it comes to boxes, so let's see how he copes with these three...
Each of the three contenders this week share the same key art which was taken from the original MSX2 release of the game. As we've seen from the Contra brawl several weeks ago, artists felt no compunction in taking a promotional photo or still from a film that evoked the right feeling and using it as the basis for their work. Solid Snake here is famously a paintover of Michael Biehn in a still from the first Terminator movie.
If you're going to steal, why not steal from the best? Solid Snake/Resistance fighter Kyle Reese is striking a dynamic pose and there's an urgency in the upturned triangle and the title font. The typed intro text at the top sets the tone (typo and all), and it's only the blotchy yellow-orange splashes over the white background which don’t scream ‘high-tech espionage’.
Adopting Konami's classic silver NES packaging, we get Mr Biehn and one corner of the triangular border from the Japanese version cutting in from the left with the negative space below filled with a sketch of a Metal Gear. The title font is recoloured and repositioned at the top with the Konami logo in black tastefully centred above and the ever-present Nintendo Seal of Quality stuck in the bottom right corner.
The North American version loses the Konami logo thanks to it being published by Konami's shell company Ultra Games (set up to circumvent Nintendo's third-party publisher limitations). The same art is once again reframed with the Metal Gear moved to the left and a big block of black cutting across the left side. The title is recoloured to an eye-catching yellow which punches out of the black and the Nintendo Seal sits inconspicuously in the bottom left.
And while we're here, here's a couple of variants of the original MSX2 box art (not part of the poll, you understand). Look familiar?
So, you've seen the stealthy contenders, but which one has snuck into your heart? Pick your favourite by clicking the corresponding pic below and hitting the 'Vote' button to... well, it's obvious what that'll do, isn't it?
That's all from Round 8 of the Brawl! Let us know how you deliberated and decided below and we'll catch you again next time for another box-based beat down.