Bienvenido a Box Art Brawl, our weekly look back at the same game's retro box art from around the world with a cheeky vote attached.
To coincide with the release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons we took a look at the first game in the series last week. Despite the North American and European variants being very similar, the minor differences elevated the North American version way above the rest with a comfortable 59% of the vote. Japan mopped up just 7% leaving Europe in the middle with the remainder.
After the lovely and contemplative relaxation of Animal Crossing, we're taking to the streets (digital ones, we hasten to add) with Streets of Rage 3 this week. Yes, we broke the mould with a non-Nintendo system game back in Box Art Brawl #32 with Sonic the Hedgehog, with the proviso that the game has appeared on a Nintendo platform. This week's game is available on Switch as part of the rather excellent Sega Mega Drive Classics collection (which, crucially, includes the Japanese version, AKA the one you should play).
To be honest we're just whetting our appetites for the upcoming Streets of Rage 4 with this selection, and with many people across the globe currently under a lockdown of some sort thanks to COVID-19, what better way to release some of that pent up tension with an underappreciated beat 'em up, eh?
Let's get down to it, then. Round 1...
We begin in North America with Axel, Blaze, Dr. Zan and unlockable character Roo practising their moves on a dock as the sun sets (or rises?) behind the city in the background. Skate, or Sammy if you prefer, is entirely absent for some reason and the positioning of the four characters is a little odd. Your eye is drawn to Zan's electrified cyborg arm, and while he and Blaze are rendered pretty well, poor Axel has seen much better days.
Midway through his patented Grand Upper punch, the veteran brawler’s mug is enough to distract you from the odd proportions of his body. His hands and feet are enormous and the poor chap has taken some heavy blows to the face. This is the third game, we suppose.
We like how Zan's hand breaks over the red Genesis strip down the left side, although we're less enthused with Roo's foot doing the same. There are some strange perspective issues here that become more evident the longer you look, but it's got plenty of energy.
All the characters look more or less as you'd imagine them from the in-game sprites on the Japanese cover, with Axel looking suitably ripped and Blaze reminding us of her, er, formative influence on us as a young gamer. Ahem.
Sammy is present and correct and Zan's massive cyborg body presents the cast as they all stand in front of a blazing... something. We see robotic hands reaching out behind the kick-ass Japanese title. It's evocative, dynamic, colourful and beautifully painted. In fact, the only fault we can find with it is Axel's shirt. What's going on with that? Is it cling film? Is his white t-shirt just soaking wet with sweat after giving dozens of goons a sound beating? It almost looks like he has smeared lard over his chest in the form of a vest.
Taking a leaf from the North American book when it comes to omitting characters, Dr. Gilbert Zan takes centre stage on the European blue box, although with less obviously cyborg appendages. Killer 'stache, though. We assume Blaze has just had her head crushed and twisted by an unseen enemy thanks to its unnatural angle and curiously small size compared to the rest of her body.
The city with the ominous lightning storm looks nice, the water looks nice, the logo is cool and we don't mind the big blue strip with prominent placement of the Mega Drive and SEGA logos, either. It is still lacking something, though, and despite any good points it may have, we can't stop scrutinising Blaze's head.
Them's your picks this week. Click your favourite below and hit the 'Vote' button to register your choice:
We hope you're all keeping safe and sound wherever you are. Happy gaming and we'll see you next week for another round.