Box Art Reviews: Hamster Cruelty, Creepy Ballet Dancers

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We may not judge books by their covers, but no one said anything about video games.

In the interest of helping video game marketing departments, our box art reviews look at game covers from the perspective of the average video game shopper. We look at new releases to rate the design and try to determine, strictly by a game’s cover, what it’s all about.

It’s a feature I’ve brought over from MTV Multiplayer and Wired’s GameLife, and now I present it here on Techland.

This week was a big one for game releases: We got New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Left 4 Dead 2, Assassin’s Creed 2, Tony Hawk RIDE and Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles. But you probably already know about those titles.

So for this round of box art evaluations, we rated the alternative games, the ones that no one heard about:

My Ballet Studio (Wii, DS)
What’s on the box: A little girl and a young woman pose in tutus and stare at us while standing in a ballet studio. (Natch.)
What’s good: It’s quite literal. And being a ballet game, it fulfills its obligatory use of pink.
What’s bad: They clearly look Photoshopped. How hard is it to take a photo of people in an actual ballet studio? Plus, the little girl just gives me the creeps for some reason.
Verdict: Fail. I’m always wary of games that use real people on their covers.

Petz: Hamsterz Superstarz (DS)
What’s on the box: Hamsters (or rather, hamsterz) perform various stunts, like rollerskating, hula-hooping on a rubber ball and parachuting from the sky.
What’s good: I had a hamster once. My dad said he ran away. Maybe he really rollerskated away. Regardless, this cover amuses me.
What’s bad: The hamster with the rollerskates and the helmet is holding a sign that says, “Teach me cool tricks!” But look deep into his coal-black eyes; he also looks kinda sad.
Verdict: Win. It’s hilarious. (But let’s hope this doesn’t raise the number of accidental hamster deaths.)

Just Dance (Wii)
What’s on the box: A woman and a man (?) dance passionately while holding a Wii remote. And not necessarily with each other. They’re relegated to the corner of the box while the game’s text takes over the rest.
What’s good: It’s attention-grabbing. The font is pretty cool and easy to read.
What’s bad: Katy Perry is so hot right now. Deee-Lite is a classic. But MC Hammer? I’m not sure I’d call that out on the cover.
Verdict: Win. This cover stands out, and I guess we’ll overlook Hammer Time.

Stoked: Big Air Edition (Xbox 360)
What’s on the box: The title of the game, along with a snowboarder doing an aerial trick while a helicopter flies in the background. The names of people (I’m assuming famous snowboarders) appear at the top.
What’s good: You could read the title of the game from a mile away (though at first I read it as “Big Air Edition: Stoked”).
What’s bad: Everything else. The font of the snowboarders’ names are very tiny, and are they necessary? There’s also text under the title that tells you what you can do in the game, but it’s barely legible. The biggest flaw though is how much white space there is. I know it’s supposed to be snow but it looks like there’s nothing on the bottom half of the cover and everything is jammed up at the top.
Verdict: Fail. For epic waste of space.

Jambo! Safari Animal Rescue (Wii)
What’s on the box: The title of the game over a background of giraffe fur.
What’s good: It’s simple and eye-catching.
What’s bad: I have no idea what this game’s about or what it might look like. Do you rescue animals from poachers, who use animal skin for box art?
Verdict: Fail. Simplicity is good, but so is being somewhat interesting.

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