Thursday, May 07, 2015

I really like these recent examples of Japanese 3DS box art

I don't think there's ever been a time in my life when I wasn't interested in game box art.

OK, so I obviously wasn't all that into it before I started playing games (all the way back in the mid-1980s), but it didn't take long for that interest to set in once the introductions were out of the way.

In fact, I remember being more than a bit intrigued--some would say obsessed--with a good number of NES box covers, including Castlevania, Crystalis, Dragon Warrior, The Legend of Zelda, Little Nemo and Super Mario Bros. 3.

Fast forward to the present, and there's no question that I've become a full-on "box art nut." Sure, most of the stuff that's produced today can't hold a candle to the wonderful cover illustrations that were conjured up during my teen years, but that doesn't mean none of it is worth ogling.

Take the following five, recent-ish examples of Japanese 3DS box art. I'm guessing some of you will take issue with at least a few of them, but I myself find all of them pretty appealing.

The cover art above was made for an RPG I can only imagine is aimed at the Pokemon (or maybe I should say Yokai Watch) set, called Minarai Majo to MokoMoko Friends.

Honestly, I consider the overall image to be a snooze, but I think the assertive use of pastels, the whimsical logo and the surprisingly adroit character designs make up for it.

Next up, we have New Atelier Rorona, above. Yes, it's true that almost any piece of box art that includes a lot of pink is going to catch my eye, but that's not why I'm including it here. No, I'm including it here because I'm fond of the image that appears in front of all of that pink, too.

I'd definitely agree with anyone who chose to describe this game's logo as being a few steps past "overboard," but I guess it could be worse.

By the way, I'm genuinely interested in this game's content, too--to the point that I really hope Koei Tecmo announces its North American release soon. And if they don't? I may have to consider picking up the Japanese version.

I had a really hard time deciding if I should include this iteration of Fire Emblem If's cover art here or the other one, which is darker and features a lot of purple.

Both are marvelous, if you ask me, but for whatever reason the one above is doing more for me then the other at the moment.

Despite the fact that I made room for this game's box art in this post, I really debated with myself as to whether or not it belonged.

On the one hand, I like how aggressively colorful it is, but on the other, I consider it to be more than a bit cliche in terms of its design. (How many Japanese games sport cover illustrations that are little more than a messy collage of all, or at least most, of their characters? Far too many, in my opinion.)

To wash the above out of our mouths, let's take in the subtle beauty of PoPoLoCrois Bokujou Monogatari's box art. 

Strangely, the only thing I don't love about it is the pairing that serves as its centerpiece. Aside from that, though, I like the use of perspective, the classy logo and the almost delicate shading and use of color. 

This is another Japanese 3DS title that I hope makes its way across the pond, by the way. Come on, Xseed, make it so I don't have to import this sucker as well as New Atelier Rorona (and Rhythm Tengoku: The Best Plus and probably a handful of others). 

What do all of you think of the pieces of box art showcased in this post? Also, if you like any recent-ish examples of Japanese 3DS cover imagery that aren't included here, please let me know about them in the comments section below.


RetroKingSimon said...

Some nice examples there Bryan. The anime ones always stand out to me when I'm in shops :)

Justin Difazzio said...

The bird whose wings are a scarf in that first illustration is genius. And that last example is pretty great. I love the boy's hair. said...

Yeah, I really like the character designs shown on the cover of that first game, Justin. I can't imagine the game itself is all that thrilling (it seems to be an RPG aimed away kids), but maybe I should take one for the team and try it anyway :) said...

Me, too, Simon

michaelstearns said...

I like all of these, though at a glance Mokomoko Friends' background looks a little too much to me like the light grey checkerboard pattern of Photoshop's default background, suggesting that the image isn't finished. I can't deal with it! xD

I also prefer this FE:If cover--the lighter background really gives the characters strong silhouettes, and I feel like there's a greater sense of uniformity to the characters' facing directions. And it's a nice, more conservative approach to the "show everyone!" character pile seen in Stellaglow.

I like that one too, though it's sort of mid-range as far as those things go, there's definitely a bit of composition to guide the eye (so it's better than some!) but it's not that great, either. I've said before that I do like the "character pile" generally speaking, though. :) Obviously there are a lot of differences between US and Japanese boxes, but this is such a cliche, I wonder why it is Japan seems to love them, while over here it almost seems to be a universal design "no no."

michaelstearns said...

Arrgh really Stellaglow bugs me the more I look at it, ha ha ha! There's a nice "curve" (I suspect it was not intentional) that guides the eye from the cleavage on the lower-right up the sword to the hat-gal's face. If they had lightened up all the other characters to show some "atmospheric perspective" as they recede into the distance, I think this cover would be really gorgeous instead of slightly jarring. said...

Oh, I'm right with you RE: the Mokomoko Friends cover, Michael, as I thought the very
same thing when I first laid eyes on it! Actually, that's a big part of the
reason I said in the post that I wasn't all that impressed with the overall
image. Plus, the grouping of the characters is completely lacking in
imagination or originality, which stinks.

As for your thoughts on Fire Emblem If, I agree
with those, too. The lighter background definitely allows the main art to shine
in this particular instance. That said, I also like how dramatic the darker
cover is.

I'm still really torn on the Stella Glow imagery,
I have to say. Really, the only part I like about it is the use of bold colors.
OK, and the logo, too. Other than those two elements, though, I think it's
pretty boring/pedestrian. Oh, well! said...

It's funny that you should say this, Michael, as I think the opposite is true for me. In other words, the most I look at Stella Glow's box art, the less I like it! Honestly, I've kind of had it with this "style"—which seems to be used on every other Japanese game these days. Don't get me wrong, I like certain, specific examples of it (see a couple of the ones included in tomorrow's post, for instance), but in general I think the folks who produce the bulk of Japanese cover illustrations and designs desperately need to branch out in the future…

michaelstearns said...

No no, I am the same--I said the more I look at it the more the problems with it bug me and I like it less.

On principle I like boxes like that because there's so much detail to take in, but after so many anime faces and poor composition I have to agree--only a few of them are actually "good" designs. said...

Oh, sorry, Michael! I guess
it's been that kind of week :P Anyway, despite the fact that I included a few
of this "type" of box art in this post (and in the one that will be
published tomorrow), I much prefer cover imagery that's more artistic or unique
or visually interesting. Take the box art produced for Bravely Second, for
instance, or even something as old as Mother 1, 2 or 3. Sometimes, simpler is
best—or at least it is for me.

apricotsushi said...

I absolutely love the flowers on the Rorona box! Gorgeous!

Franggio Hogland said...

Gee...The Rorona box art looks so great but the game looks so bad :( said...

Oh, yeah, I like those, too, Anne! said...

Really, Franggio? The only part that I think looks weird is the big heads on the characters, which kind of gives a "PS2 remake of Romancing SaGa" vibe. Other than that, though, I think it looks pretty great.

Franggio Hogland said...

Yupp, I really mean it :/
Haven gotten used to the PS3/V level of detail and then seeing how it has been retrograded just puts me off. Even the character portraits has lost so much detail. I'm not going to liken it to the Iris series on PS2 due to it actually having a cleaner look and a totally different style but they might as well have gone with it and perhaps saved some of it. Perhaps the combat can save it for me but a big chunk of it's charm has just been lost :(