As a long time fan of fighting games, I learned to appreciate effort that goes into crafting their box covers. Of course, most of us we don’t get much of that nowadays, since the industry is rapidly moving towards the digital era and while you definitely see covers as part of Google searches, video game coverage or ads, it’s definitely not the same as holding the box in your hands. So I wanted to know which are some of the best covers for fighting games and I came up with the list below. Take into account that I tried to avoid as many of the cliché covers where characters are facing each other and the games are in no particular order. Of course, these are some of my personal favorites, so make sure you share you mention some of the covers I missed in the comments.
X-Men vs. Street Fighter (Sega Saturn Japan)
The Sega Saturn cover for X-Men vs. Street Fighter (which, by the way, only saw the light in Japan) features more than a dozen characters and, for whatever reason, doesn’t feel chock-full. Maybe it’s because all those characters are recognizable and each one feels completely different from the next, but as someone who loves minimalist covers, I have to say Capcom really pulled it off with this one.
Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars
For most people who followed this crossover game closely, the fact that it made it to North America was baffling. After all, most people aren’t familiar with Tatsunoko’s roster (which includes characters from Science Ninja Team, Gatchaman and Yaterman.) But after begging Capcom to bring this Nintendo Wii fighter to territories other than Japan, international fans finally received their own version and they even got additional characters and an online mode. Despite using the overused idea of having characters from two franchises face each other, in this case, this feels like an achievement because these franchises couldn’t be more different from each other.
Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3
The box art of a crossover game should make you feel like the game is able to fulfill that fantasy of “who do you think would win in a fight between…?” Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3’s cover definitely makes you feel that way, featuring some of the most iconic characters from both franchises. Taking into account that there had been two terrific Marvel vs. Capcom games before it, the third entry in the series had some big shoes to fill, but it was ultimately a resounding success.
Choosing the cover for a compilation that celebrates the 15th anniversary of a flagship series has to be extremely difficult. Luckily, Capcom made the right choice for Street Fighter: Anniversary Edition, a collection that comes with Street Fighter 2, Street Fighter 3: Third Strike and Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie. Most of the recognizable World Warriors are prominently shown in the cover and the detailed art makes this cover special and memorable.
Mortal Kombat (Sega Genesis)
Maybe I included this one because I like that logo so much. But think about it, Midway could have featured dozens of characters in this cover, but they only included a logo with a black background. That’s how iconic the Mortal Kombat logo is and over the years, it’s become a pop icon and everyone knows where it’s from.
Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe: Kollector’s Edition
Unlike Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat was never about mixing characters with those of another universe. That is, until Warner Bros. acquired Midway’s popular fighting game and decided to try a little experiment. Some considered Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe an underwhelming fighting game, but WB Interactive knew that it was catering to both fighting game fans and comic book fans with this project. The regular edition featured a forgettable cover, but the Kollector’s Edition was the complete opposite because it was divided into two and each side features characters from both franchises.
Street Fighter Alpha 3
Whenever I look at this cover, I think that the Street Fighter Alpha series should come back in some form. The games were terrific and one of the qualities that made them that way was its unique art style. The box art is indicative of the anime style you can see in the games and while the previous covers for Alpha and Alpha 2 were absolutely terrible, Alpha 3’s is amazing. The logo looks fantastic and I love the fact that Zangief (who looks like a crazy person) is prominently shown in the cover, instead of the usual Ryu or Ken.
Guilty Gear Isuka
As far as I know, Guilty Gear has anime cutscenes, loud heavy metal and insane characters. The cover for Guilty Gear Isuka captures all those qualities and while there have been several iterations in the two-dimensional fighting game series, Isuka has one of the best covers. Back in the day, Guilty Gear Isuka was well received by critics and fighting game fans for having a deep combat system, having a fantastic art style and soundtrack and a balanced roster. Guilty Gear Isuka was more than a pretty face.
Maybe I’m cheating a bit with this one because Soulcalibur II had not one, but three different covers and the one you got depended on the home console you owned. As some of you might know, Soulcalibur II was the game that started the trend of having guest characters and for the second entry, you could get Link on the GameCube, Heihachi on the PlayStation 2 or Spawn on the original Xbox. Everyone who played this game back in the day has its favorite cover, character and home console.
They say pictures are worth a thousand words and that’s definitely the case of this cover. There’s a simplicity and complexity to this box art that’s difficult to replicate (there’s only one character, but the picture’s filled with details.) Everyone knows that you shouldn’t judge a book for its cover, but in the case of Samurai Shodown, I’ll make a mistake.