He-he-here we go! It's time for Box Art Brawl, our weekly look at which region got the best box art of a particular retro release.
Last week the North American version of Ninja Gaiden on the NES absolutely trounced the competition, with the Japanese variant a distant second and Europe left stumbling in a daze around the city-wide inferno with a paltry 4% of the vote.
Yesterday we took a look back at Donkey Kong 64 - the collectathon to end all collectathons - after it celebrated its 20th birthday on 21st November, and during our research we noticed that the different regional covers would be fine candidates for the brawl. So they're finally here, performing for you...
Each cover contained the five DK crew members from the game, but which region captured the best side of Donkey, Diddy, Tiny, Lanky and Chunky? Which cover will be the leader of the bunch? Which will kick some tail? Let's have a banana.
Advertising prominently the (required) Expansion Pak and banana-yellow cartridge contained inside the box, the NA cover features the five Kongs in a minecart being pursed by King K.Rool behind them, and out of focus, to the right. That depth-of-field effect makes the Kongs pop off the cover and the big ol' logo is as bold and brash as DK himself. The Rareware emblem sits reassuringly in the bottom left corner as a balance to the ESRB rating on the opposite side.
It's big and colourful, overflowing with energy, and even though it gets a bit busy up top, it does a thoroughly decent job of teeing up the sort of madcap adventure you'll be getting when you fire up your N64.
The EU variant takes the key Kong art and puts it inside the customary European black border, which keeps all the peripheral system information and company logos away from the image. We get a better look at the minecart, now trundling through a dark jungle, and the logo shifts to the bottom right, with the Expansion Pak sitting in the corner above.
Despite reducing the real estate of the main image with that big black border, there's something about the composition which we think works a little better here. A conscious effort has been to reduce the clutter - just look at the abbreviation of 'including' to 'incl.'. K.Rool gets the boot, but this somehow feels a little classier.
The Japanese cover keeps the jungle vegetation but puts the Kong family in the top half of the portrait box. Striking their hero poses (well, we're not sure about Diddy), a tiny minecart track loops around them as an odd sort-of border, presumably to advertise to players that - don't worry! - there are minecart rides in this one! Barrels, too, as the info splashes at the bottom show.
It's not bad, but there's not much tying it together. The other two strike us as more cohesive covers where as this feels more like a poster you'd see on publish transport. It puts us in mind of the Japanese cover for Banjo-Tooie, another Rare game which walked away victorious from the Box Art Brawl. It's not our favourite, but we ain't the ones voting...
Three bunches of five apes for your delectation. We could pick our favourite with relative ease, but it’s time to choose your favourite by clicking the appropriate image below and hitting the 'Vote' button:
That's it, show's over. If you enjoyed this round of savage bloodletting, join us next week when we'll be back for Round 19 of Box Art Brawl.