Thursday, June 30, 2011

Let's Play: 'Which Box Art is Better?' (Solatorobo: Red the Hunter edition)

I've never played CyberConnect2's Tail Concerto, but I've read enough about this "3D anime-style, action-adventure platformer" (per Wikipedia), released in 1998 for the original PlayStation, to know that I should add it to my collection sooner rather than later.

Another game I should add to my collection sooner rather than later, according to positive early impressions of it: The spiritual sequel to Tail Concerto, Solatorobo.

That game--which, like its predecessor, seems to focus on the exploits of an anthropomorphic pooch and his semi-humanoid mecha--hit the streets in Japan late last year and is set to do the same in Europe (courtesy of Nintendo; it was published in Japan by Namco Bandai) on July 1 and in North America (courtesy of Xseed Games; pre-order it here) on Sept. 27.

Speaking of this DS title's much-anticipated international release, here is the box art that will appear on the North American iteration:

The art that will grace the cover of the European pressing of the game, on the other hand, should look something like this:

Finally, here is the box art that was used in Japan:

As for my thoughts on this trio of box arts: Well, I kind of hate to say it, since I'm sure it's going to make me sound like a biased broken record, but once again I prefer the Japanese art. I especially like its sense of adventure and whimsy, neither of which are depicted in the European or North American designs.

That's not to say I hate the other options. Actually, let me clarify that: I don't hate the North American art. In fact, I really like its use of warm colors. I'm not so fond of the placement of the subtitle, but it's not enough to make me turn up my nose at the game.

I wouldn't say the European art is so bad it would prompt me to bypass the game, but it might push me to pick up the Japanese or North American version instead--if, you know, I lived in Europe and not in the US. Admittedly, I doubt many European DS owners will react as strongly to the art as I have, but I definitely think it's possible some of them--especially those who have never heard of the game and aren't looking forward to its release--may simply overlook it thanks to its bland, boring box art.

Anyway, that's what I think of the art that has appeared or will appear on the covers of the European, Japanese and North American versions of Solatorobo. What do you think?

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


LottieTwintails said...

I think I'm in complete agreement with you on this one!

The Japanese box art makes the game look just plain FUN. It would make me want to learn more about the game if I didn't already, and it definitely carries that whimsy factor, as you said.

The NA box art isn't bad, but that "Red the Hunter" off to the side is the main glaring flaw, for sure. The scene pictured makes the game look "epic" and the warm colors are visually appealing.

The EU cover... it just doesn't have the aesthetic appeal of the other two, and the blurb off to the side just kills it. I'm definitely glad it's being released in NA as well, for the cover aspect alone!

Bryan Ochalla said...

Hey there, Kamiwoo!

Ah, so glad to hear you agree with me :) Actually, I'd be perfectly OK if you didn't agree with me, but, hey, it's always great to have someone agree with you.

Anyway, yes, I like the epic-ness of the NA art, too. I like the steely glares of the main characters, and how they're directing them off into the distance.

As for the EU art: I'm not sure what gamers are supposed to get from it. It really doesn't say much about the game or its focus, IMO, which is a shame, since both the Japanese and NA options seem to do a good job of that.

Viewtiful_Justin said...

Funny, I'd never even heard of this game until I read about it in Nintendo Power today. Apparently this game has been in the works for ten years. It looks pretty neat.

As for the box art, I'm gonna agree with you, Bryan. The Japanese one is better for all the reasons you listed.

Bryan Ochalla said...

I don't know if you've watched any of the trailers that have been released for this game, Justin, but it looks like a lot of fun -- as does Tail Concerto, which I swear I'm going to get soon.

As for the box art debate -- I wonder why in so many cases the folks who design the packaging for games have better taste and abilities than their Western counterparts? Of course, there are a ton of talented graphic designers in NA and Europe, so maybe the gaming industry just doesn't attract them -- or offer them enough money??

J said...

You know, they all look pretty shitty to me. Sorry. I'm pissed about the Operation Rainfall sitch.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Aw, J, don't take it out on Solatorobo! Just kidding, I know how you feel :(

xerosbeat said...

To me it's not about having taste, it's more about what the NA branch thinks appeals more to the consumers. You see it in cartoons and anime localizations when things are made to seem "cooler" or more actiony to appeal to the more action oriented American audience.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Hey there, xerosbeat! I hear ya, and I agree with you to an extent. When I brought up "taste" in the comment above, I wasn't just talking about the choice of cover art, but the overall design of the cover, too. For instance, the placement of the subtitle on the NA art is just awkward to me. In the end, though, it's really a small detail and shouldn't keep people from buying the game...

Sam said...

I have to say, slightly ashamed, when me and my friend were in a shop, we made fun of the UK box-art, joking what a terrible game it looks. Only after reading a review online by chance one night did I order it online.

I feel the European box art stinks of a flustered marketing team who didn't know how to sell this game.

It has a human in the background, just so people don't think it's only about a dog. It has a side circle, denoting that you'll pirate robots then on the back it lists every single feature the game has! It just feels cluttered.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Don't feel ashamed, Sam -- it *is* terrible box art! Also, I agree with you that it looks like it was made by a group of designers who didn't know how to sell the game -- or didn't even understand what the game was about! Hopefully the game's sales don't suffer too much as a result. BTW, do you have the game already? If so, what do you think about it?

Sam said...

An amazing RPG, so many ideas in it. Feels like an old dreamcast game or maybe even an N64 game in style.

Give it an hour or two to warm up and you won't be able to put it down. It's very anime in it's presentation and plotting but the game mechanics are more than solid.

It's a breathe of fresh air to modern rpg convention!

Bryan Ochalla said...

Thanks for the impressions, Sam! Saying it plays like an old DC game is music to my ears! I may pick it up sooner rather than later. If I do, I'll let you know!