Welcome once again to Box Art Brawl, our weekly poll to discover which of three regional box art variants sits at the top of the tree.
Last week we scrutinised Natsume's Wild Guns on Super NES. Following a classic Western-style gunfight, North America emerged from the smoke victorious, growling at second place Japan and third place Europe to leave town and never return.
This week we're sticking with 16-bits and taking a look at Taito's tile-matching puzzle game Puzzle Bobble, or Bust-a-Move as it's known in North America. Most recently, we've seen dragons Bub and Bob on Switch in Bubble Bobble 4 Friends, a game North America is still waiting for, although the Neo Geo version of Puzzle Bobble is available as part of Hamster's ACA Neo Geo range on Switch.
Right, let's bust some bubbles.
The Super Famicom version is relatively clean and quiet, with Bub and Bob at the bottom, a bunch of multicoloured bubbles rising through the middle and the bulbous title bursting out of a yellow foam at the top. The lower half's gradiated blue-purple background stops the white border looking stale and you end up with a cheery, colourful cover.
Top it off with the sweet Taito and Super Famicom logos at the top and it's a strong start from the Japanese.
Europeans got a pale pink border around a bubbly piece of art featuring the dragons. This one gives you more of an idea of the gameplay, with the pointer firing at the bubbles and popping several of them. It uses the same title as the Japanese version, with the Bust-a-Move subtitle added just beneath.
The pink is a little insipid, but there's more than enough colour elsewhere and we like that it communicates something about the game, too. Not bad.
We must remember that this game released in the mid-'90s, and kids in the '90s hated cute things. If it wasn't rude, lacked 'tude, or seemed in any way 'kiddy', Western gamers apparently wouldn't touch it. Consequently, Bub and Bob got ousted in North America in favour of a grittier, more serious cover. The pointer looks like the Eiffel Tower transformed into a laser cannon and the planetoid 'bubbles' don't pop here, they explode! The background suggests we're in some sort of digital cyberspace here, with celestial bodies going nova as you shoot them. Far out!
The new title gets a hard-edged font treatment and the only thing missing is a tagline to let us know this ain't for kids.
It's sure different. It's not bad per se, but we've taken against it for the way it treats gamers like idiots who refuse to look past the surface to the gameplay beneath. Then again, we've seen time and again covers in the West reworked to give them an 'edge' (hello angry-eyed Kirby!), so maybe the marketing people knew what they were doing. Maybe we were all idiots in the '90s.
Time to bust-a-groove and click your favourite below. Hit the 'Vote' button after that and you'll have voted - jolly good show!
Thanks for joining us this week. Let us know how you picked below, and we'll see you next time.