Welcome back, you beautiful people, to another edition of Box Art Brawl, the series where regional box art variants get subjected to public scrutiny and ranked according to their beauty by you lovely lot.
Last week we had a true classic in the form of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, which unsheathed its Master Swords and did valiant battle against itself. We have a real soft spot for the European version, but the gold North American cover eventually emerged as the victor in a competition which was neck-and-neck for a while. NA walked away with 40% of the vote in the end, with Europe banking exactly one-third and Japan taking the rest in third place. An honourable performance from all involved.
This week we're spectating a Mario Bros. bout - the NES port of the arcade original from before Mario and Luigi became 'Super' (you can go back and see how Super Mario Bros.' box art brawl turned out if you’re interested). This title has a long and fascinating history, though many gamers probably know it best as the extra mode you ignored on all those Super Mario Advance games for GBA. Today, though, we'll be concentrating on its NES and Famicom covers.
Without further ado, let's hit that POW block and get cracking.
We begin in North America with a cover that mirrors Super Mario Bros. with its enlarged sprites and black background. As with all the black box games, we admire its boldness and Nintendo's choice to highlight and magnify the graphics of the 8-bit titles rather than hide behind an imaginative piece of key art that looks nothing like the game itself.
Big, bold, Mario in blue. What's not to like?
The Famicom port uses a colourful piece of art showing the Mario brothers against a yellow-green background. Three enemies can be seen and the grey pipes coming in from either side give a decent overall impression of the game. This comes from a time when Mario and Luigi were literal palette swaps and that is reflected here.
It's nice. Unremarkable, but very pleasant.
Yes, just as with Super Mario Bros. we've chosen to go with a specific regional variant of the game for the European release. A couple of different versions exist, including one which is more or less identical to the American version, and another short-format version which used the art from the Famicom box.
Here, though, we've chosen the Europe-only 'Classic Series' 1993 re-release, for variety's sake. This version incorporated some changes and gameplay tweaks from Kaettekita Mario Bros., an expanded Famicom Disk System port which improved the visuals a touch and added the ability for Mario and Luigi to change direction mid-air, among other things. If you're interested to find out more check out this video of the original release running alongside this version.
As for the cover, it benefits from the art style we've come to know and love and recalls the perspective of Donkey Kong throwing barrels down on the moustachioed Mario. It's colourful, for sure, although a tad uninspiring for our tastes.
And as a cheeky non-polled bonus, here's a little look at three covers of the Atari 2600 port. Gotta say we like 'em all:
So, three very different covers but which one gets your vote? Click your favourite below and hit the 'Vote' button for cast your ballot:
And that's another brawl wrapped and bagged. We'll see you next time for another round and in the meantime, have a great week.