Friday, June 17, 2011

Let's Play: 'Which Box Art is Better?' (Dark Souls edition)

From Software's much-anticipated sequel to Demon's Souls, Dark Souls, is still a few months away from release--Japanese PS3 gamers will get the first crack at this action RPG when it hits the streets on Sept. 15, while North American and European PS3 and Xbox 360 gamers will gain access to it on Oct. 4 and 7, respectively--but that shouldn't keep us from playing another round of "Which Box Art is Better?" right? (The correct answer is "no," in case you were wondering.)

Let's start with the box art that's being prepped for the Japanese PS3 release, shall we?


Next, let's check out the art that seemingly will appear on the cover of the collector's edition of the North American PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game. (Pre-order the former here and the latter here.)


I have to admit that I'm not at all sure which of the following illustrations will grace the covers of the European PS3 and Xbox 360 iterations of Dark Souls. I mean, some folks are saying the box art below--which supposedly will appear on the standard editions released in North America, too--will be used for these versions of the game:


While others are suggesting European gamers should keep an eye out for this cover come Oct. 7:


Personally, I prefer the blue-tinged piece of box art that's possiblymaybe going to show up on European store shelves in a few months. I also quite like the moody illustration that will serve as the Japanese version's cover art, although I understand why the folks at Namco Bandai (the game's publisher outside of Japan) decided against using it in other territories.

So, that's my opinion on the matter. What do all of you think about the Dark Souls box-art options shown above? Don't be shy!

See also: Previous 'Which Box Art is Better?' posts

32 comments:

Trxd said...

The North American version :D

I definitely HATE HATE HATE covers where the main character is right in the middle of the screen, either exploding with magical energy or in some kind of tough action pose, because it makes the game look soooo generic, I definitely wouldn't pick up either of those last two boxarts if I was having a random game buying binge.

The Japanese cover is better but is way too subtle, even though I know thats the effect its going for, it just doesn't have much of an impact since we have already had games like that.

The one with the reflection of a creature on a blood splattered suit of armor is the most attractive me because it has a really interesting perspective and makes me ask a lot of questions. Not to mention the situation presented is pretty demonic and goes well with the title.

(p.s: I'll understand if you reply with "tl;dr" :P)

Bryan Ochalla said...

Thanks for sharing your input, Trxd!

I like how we all have things that bug us or make us love box art, BTW. I tend to like symmetry, for instance, and I tend to like more subtle illustrations, too. I know a lot of people who comment on these posts -- like you! -- prefer more action-oriented box art, though, or box art that features interesting perspectives, etc.

Anyway, I get what you're saying about the ones you like and dislike. I don't actively dislike any of them, BTW -- although I have to admit I can't stand the off-center logos on the covers of the NA collector's edition and the alternate Euro edition.

Bryan Ochalla said...

BTW, I should point out that it appears as though my favorite option -- the blue-tinged one -- will serve as the cover of the "standard edition" release in NA. Is it also going to be used on the Euro releases of this game? I'm not sure, to tell you the truth...

Bryan Ochalla said...

Aaaaaannnnnnnd a challenger approaches ... Apparently the orange Euro art will serve as a cardboard case that houses the collector's edition of the Euro release. Here's the art that actually will grace the cover of that edition -- http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showpost.php?p=28663150&postcount=47

Sorry for the confusion!

Trxd said...

If it's the one with the guy with the sword looking up at the light, I approve! :D

Bryan Ochalla said...

It is, Trxd! I approve of it, too :)

Trxd said...

haha and I hate symmetry, I guess that's why we have conflicting cover art choices.

I really like subtle covers too, I never thought I'd hear myself disliking one, to me covers like ICO and Final Fantasy X and a thousand times more attractive than say, Gears of War. I remember when I say my first FF cover it looked so mysterious and interesting, I immediately wanted to see what it was (same with ICO) but if the cover of FFX was Tidus swinging a sword in the centre with an angry face, I would have skipped over it without a second thought.

And btw I love these 'Which Box Art is better?' posts, thank you for posting them :)

Bryan Ochalla said...

Oh, I'm with you on ICO's cover art -- as long as you're talking about the Japanese cover and not the NA cover. (Yuck!)

Also, I think FF cover art is, with few exceptions, stellar. I especially love the more subtle/simplistic Japanese covers, but there have been some great Euro and NA FF covers, too.

Finally, thanks for the nice comment about these posts in general! They're fun to write, plus they seem to attract more comments than most other posts, and I always like that.

Trxd said...

haha the NA Ico cover art is so horrid >.< And your welcome :)

Viewtiful_Justin said...

The second one, the one with the helmet reflection. That's pretty much the winner here. By a long shot. It's the most compelling out of all of them.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Ah, it seems there are going to be some wildly differing opinions this time around. I love it!

I'm starting to like the NA art, Justin, although it still seems kind of, I don't know, boring to me. I like what the artists/designers are/were trying to do with it, though.

Kamiwoo said...

Hmm, tough one this time around. I like the first two covers best out of the bunch, for starters. Makes me kind of sad that something like the Japanese cover wouldn't fly in the West. It is very subtle, but it looks really classy and mysterious. There were seemingly-innocent moments like this in Demon's Souls that ended in death for the player soon after, so maybe that's why I like it!

Otherwise, the 2nd cover posted is pretty cool. It's pretty accurate to what the game is probably going to be like - an evil-looking demon glaring down at the beaten body of one of our heroes. Kind of artistic.

The last two aren't bad but just don't strike QUITE as much of a chord with me. I do like the blue souls surrounding the guy in the center of the 3rd box, looks spiffy. The 4th box is probably someone we'll end up staring down in a dark alley somewhere in the game... not really looking forward to that, so this gets last place from me!

Are you planning on taking the plunge with this game yourself, Bryan? It's pretty rough if Demon's Souls is any indication, but it can be quite rewarding to play.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Hey there, Kamiwoo -- and thanks for sharing your thoughts :)

It sounds like all of them relate well enough to the focus of the game, which I think is nice.

BTW, I esp. like what you have to say about the last option :)

As for whether or not I'm planning to pick up this game -- I'm not sure! I was really curious about Demon's Souls but couldn't play it because I don't have a PS3. I'm curious about this one, too, but I think I'm going to wait until it's released before deciding if I'll buy it or but some of the other 360 games I've had my eye on for a while (Catherine, Death Smiles, Otomedius Excellent).

Another option is to wait until I get a PS3 and then start w/ Demon's Souls, which is pretty cheap right now, and then decide if I should get the sequel or not.

I'm guessing you've played Demon's Souls? If so, what did you think of it?

Bryan Ochalla said...

Trxd: The NA ICO cover may be one of the worst examples of box art I've ever seen. Truly horrible. The Euro box art for this game was the same as or similar to the Japanese box art, wasn't it?

Matthew "Sajon" Weise said...

The Japanese version (and NA special edition version) is very, very fucking obviously the best one. It captures the introspective, anti-macho vibe the whole series is about. The others, to various degrees, express the opposite, that the game is about feeling cool and powerful. It's about feeling weak and human.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Hey there, Matthew -- and thanks for the comment!

Anyway, your comment is an interesting one. I've sadly yet to play the first game in the series, so I wasn't aware of it's "anti-macho" vibe.

Assuming that's true, I have to admit that the Japanese box art, especially, seems to be a good fit for this release.

I think I'd like the NA special edition cover art a lot more, BTW, if the view was pulled back ever so slightly. It's just cropped too closely for me -- to the point where it took me a bit to see that the focus of it was a helmet reflecting an enemy.

Anyway, regardless of what we all think of them, I'm glad the folks at From Sortfware and Namco Bandai have given us so many box-art options to consider :)

Matthew "Sajon" Weise said...

I must warn you most people don't share my view that Demon's Souls is anti-macho. Most people think it's macho, but that's because they just take the difficulty at face value and don't consider how it functions rhetorically in tandem with the backstory.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Ah, another interesting comment, Matthew! You're really wanting me to play these games, BTW. I think I've been a bit intimidated by them up until now because I was under the impression they were all about blood, guts, testosterone, etc. I'm guessing they are about those things in some ways, but it's nice to hear there's more to them, too.

Matthew "Sajon" Weise said...

Demon's Souls is about as macho to me as Silent Hill 1/2. It's really a survival horror game disguised as a hack-n-slash RPG. It's "hard" because it punishes macho behavior mercilessly. Most macho gamers think this is a challenge to power through, never realizing that the game rewards the opposite sort of behavior.

Demon's Souls is only "hard" if you think you're playing God of War. Most people don't know what game they're playing.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Do you think Japanese gamers tend to "get" the point of the game more than their North American counterparts, Matthew -- hence, the more cerebral cover art? Or do you think most gamers in general misunderstand the point of the game?

Matthew "Sajon" Weise said...

I don't know. I am not familiar enough with the Japanese fan-base to know. However, I have noticed that Japanese advertisers in general seem to be more comfortable with conceptual covers, which symbolically suggest a theme or idea that encapsulates a game, rather than the NA box covers, which seem to assume people won't buy games unless someone on the cover is kicking ass or about to.

The cover of the Japanese box is a direct reference to the themes of respite and introspection the lead designer himself has spoken of in interviews. The campfire and the mechanics surrounding it have a meaning, what it means to rest between a battle, and what it means to sit silently with others who have the same problems as you, but you never speaking of that, just knowing it silently, and sharing that silent connection. The Japanese cover is a direct reference to that, which suggest that Japanese advertisers might consider that a selling point, whereas here it's something to be downplayed.

Trxd said...

@ The Ico Question: Yeah we got the Japanese box art, thank god. In terms of box art Europe is a happy medium between Japanese subtlty/ artistic shots and the American cheesiness. I don't know why NA always gets the more tacky looking box art, its true in almost every single case...

Matthew "Sajon" Weise said...

PAL regions are definitely closer to the Japanese conceptual/iconic box art in some cases. RE4 comes to mind. The European version had a great cover.

Trxd said...

Ohhh I love RE4 PAL cover! It is such a great example as well, just how much more interesting does that red freaky murderous forest look than Leon pointing a gun, if I was browsing and didn't know the games, I would want to check out RE4 with the Europe cover, but with that NA cover I wouldn't think twice about it.

I also really like what they did with the Wii RE4 Europe cover :D

Bryan Ochalla said...

Matthew (or should I call you Sajon?): I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that Japanese advertisers "seem to be more comfortable with conceptual covers, which symbolically suggest a theme or idea that encapsulates a game."

Also, again, your description of this game makes me far more interested in it than I did when I wrote this post last night/this morning. Thanks for that! Now I just have to get myself a PS3 (so I can play Demon's Souls). Thankfully I can play the 360 version of Dark Souls in the meantime, if I so choose :)

Bryan Ochalla said...

Sajon and Trxd: Oh, sure, not only did Europeans get better ICO box art than we did in the States, but they got better RE4 box art, too? Sigh.

Kamiwoo said...

I agree with the above comments about Demon's Souls being a humbling experience, to put it mildly. Simply neglecting to put up your shield before stepping through a doorway can end up spelling your doom. And that doom was brought on entirely by yourself - the game isn't being insensitive and cheap, it was YOU who was neglectful. That's pretty much Demon's Souls in a nutshell.

I definitely felt the complete opposite of macho while playing! Scared and nervous, for the most part. But it's so very satisfying when all that caution pays off. One thing I think a lot of games nowadays lack is that true sense of accomplishment for overcoming difficulties. So Demon's Souls was a refreshing change of pace.

Still, it's difficult to say who it will appeal to, since it can be so intimidating at first. Here's hoping Dark Souls has a demo of some sort for you ;D

Bryan Ochalla said...

Ah, yes, a demo would be great! In a way, though, I'd be fine if it doesn't have one, as I'd kind of like to be forced to bite the bullet, so to speak. Anyway, your comments and Matthew's comments on Demon's Souls certainly have piqued my interest in it!

Ala Mode 7 said...

I like the Japanese cover. I don't know why. It's subtle and the colors are warm.

Bryan Ochalla said...

First, I love your username, Ala Mode 7 :) Second, I agree with you about the Japanese cover. It's a nice alternative to the more aggressive we usually see, isn't it?

Zigfried said...

I didn't read all 30 comments above me, but I pick box art #3! I like the blue energy better than the orange.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Ah, that's the one I picked, Zigfried! Great minds think alike? :P