Welcome back to Box Art Brawl, our weekly poll to find out which of three regional box art variants whips the behinds of the other two.
This week is a rather special edition because we've reached Round #52, which means it's been one year since we began this fun little exercise. We hope you've enjoyed it so far; from next week we're planning on switching things up a little to bring in some new candidates to this weekly contest.
More on that later. First, let's revisit last week. It was a strong round with two versions of Super Aleste taking on the North American Space Megaforce. In the end Japan won out, with North America coming second and Europe bringing up the rear. That may have been how your voting went, but in our eyes there were no losers last week. All those covers deserved to win.
For this birthday edition of the Brawl we thought it fitting to bring back a character closely associated with his retro box art, for better or worse. Yes, today we're looking at the infamous Capcom classic Mega Man 2. The blue bomber has featured twice before in Brawl #6 and Brawl #40, but you can never have enough questionable Western interpretations of Rockman.
So, grab an E Tank, and let's go.
For the North American cover we've got another infamously poor cover, although in a step up from the original Mega Man cover, the Blue Bomber is indeed blue here.
Several years ago the story behind this cover and the pistol came to light, as told by the original artist. In all honesty, people tend to focus on the pistol but its the least of this cover's troubles. Mega Man and the robot masters look like wrestlers squeezed into costumes for a straight-to-video movie tie-in, and the hero's right leg looks to be crumpling like it's made of jelly, reminding us of that Thai kickboxing clip we saw on the internet years ago which haunts us to this day.
Often overlooked is good old Dr. Wily hiding in the background on the left. We assume it's Dr. Wily, although he looks more like Santa.
The meat in our Rockman sandwich, the cover for the Famicom sequel sees Rockman flanked by a cluster of robot masters, with enemies in the skies above Wily's Castle. It uses practically the entire colour palette and is undeniably in keeping with the version of the character we know and love today. There's nothing particularly exciting going on, and perhaps our nostalgia for the others is clouding our judgement, but this is nothing if not a pleasant, competently-composed cover.
The European version gets yet another realistic reinterpretation of the hero and various enemies, this time with a '70s Dr. Who aesthetic (that's a Sontaran's head on the right, no?). The hero does indeed have an arm cannon here, although in true budget-strapped BBC fashion, it appears to be a bowling pin covered in tin foil.
In keeping with the previous game, the 'State-of-the-Art' and 'High Resolution Graphics' tags remain, as does the blue border. And much like the first, we actually quite like this image. It's nothing like how we interpreted the game's graphics personally, but the artist really went for something and we respect that.
While most of Europe got the cover above, Germany received its own variant which depicts Mega Man using the jet board he gets after defeating Air Man, plus the dragon and a Dr. Wily who looks more on model. We won't include this cover in the poll (although feel free to voice your approval in the comments). We think it's a rather fine cover, though, especially given the other efforts:
Three covers, one vote. Pick your fave below and click the 'Vote' button:
And that's a wrap on one year of Box Art Brawlin'. We hope you've enjoyed perusing these lovely (and occasionally not so lovely) images every weekend.
Next week we'll be introducing a new format to run alongside the standard Brawl which will open up a whole new world of opportunities. Until then, make it your mission to have a particularly fabulous week.