I’ve always been an advocate of the digital future, but one of the worst things about the format is that box art becomes secondary. Who doesn’t remember going to a local retailer and purchasing a game just because the cover looked fantastic? Well, I recently bought a PlayStation Portable game out of curiosity and now that Monster Hunter Freedom 2 has been sitting on my night table for a few days, I can’t help looking at it and noticing its fantastic artwork. So this inspired me to write a list with some of the best box art from PlayStation Portable games.
A couple of things to take into account before moving on: these are only North American releases of titles that came out to UMD, these are great cover arts regardless of the quality of the games they belong to and these are games that originally came out as PSP exclusives. By the way, since this is completely arbitrary and based on personal preference, I won’t be putting numbers next to each game. There are literally hundreds of PSP games and I must have missed a couple of terrific cover arts, so feel free to mention them in the comments.
This must be one of the most iconic PSP covers. In fact, it’s so iconic that once you see it, you can’t forget it. I don’t know what it is about the box art for Crisis Core that makes it so unforgettable, but I like the fact that it leaves a lot to your imagination. After all, the face of the protagonist remains hidden and you just see a sword and the city of Midgar in the background. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII also happens to be one of the best games on Sony’s portable system and I’m pretty sure the fantastic art helped some indecisive buyers.
I don’t usually like covers that feature dozens of characters and are filled with colors and details, but in the case of Final Fantasy Tactics, it makes sense. After all, The War of the Lions is a tactical role-playing game where the Job system plays an important role and it’s great to see that that’s represented in the cover. Another fantastic game, The War of the Lions is an updated version of Final Fantasy Tactics for the PlayStation which was originally released in 1997.
Rondo of Blood was a Castlevania game that became notorious for never coming out in North America. But the Dracula X Chronicles compilation changed that when it was released on October 27th, 2007. The cover shows the three most important characters in the game (from top to bottom: Dracula, Richter Belmont and Annette) in colorful art style. Apart from Rondo of Blood, the compilation also features seminal platformer Symphony of the Night, so this collection gives you an excuse to play that all over again.
Persona 3 Portable
There’s something that draws me to Atlus’ Persona and whenever someone mentions the JRPG franchise I feel terrible that I haven’t found the time to play at least the third entry in the series. And if there’s something I found particularly irresistible about Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 is looking at the cover above.
Monster Hunter: Freedom Unite
Monster Hunter is all about cooperating with a few friends to bring down some of the most gargantuan creatures to ever grace a portable game and the Freedom Unite’s cover definitely conveys that idea. Think about it, the artists didn’t have that much space to work with (PSP’s cases are really small,) but they still manage to express the main concepts behind Monsters Hunter.
The Third Birthday
My favorite part about The Third Birthday’s cover is that it is minimalistic, since you only see the game’s logo and the main protagonist covered in red. This third entry in the Parasite Eve franchise came out in North America in early 2011 and received warm reviews. I don’t know that much about the third-person role-playing game, but the cover tempts me to buy it.
Darkstalker Chronicles: The Chaos Tower
The Darkstalkers series has always been about fighting with characters that were inspired by monster horror movies and the cover art for Chaos Tower does a fantastic job of showing that. This portable version of the game allows you to select fighting styles from five Darkstalkers games, so this is basically one of the definitive version.
Obscure the Aftermath
I’m a huge fan of horror films and one of my favorite things about the medium are posters. I avoid descriptions and trailers, but there’s something about looking at a poster for a horror movie that makes it irresistible to me. I get that same feeling when I looks at Obscure the Aftermath, which happens to be the portable version of Obscure II. From the poster alone, I can tell that that’s a horrifying experience packed in UMD form.
Every Extend Extra
I have no idea what Every Extend Extra is about, but the minimalist nature of the cover art definitely makes me want to play it. According to Wikipedia, Every Extend Extra shares some similarities with Lumines and Rez and music plays an important role in the different stages, but I’ll refrain from reading anything else about this game. I’m too busy admiring its artwork.
Silent Hill: Origins
To be clear, Silent Hill: Origins was eventually ported to the PlayStation 2 as well, but the PSP version was intended as a portable exclusive. I must admit that the reason why I like it so much is because it reminds me of classic horror films like Halloween or The Hill Have Eyes and the sepia colors do nothing but accentuate the feeling of nostalgia.
Other box art for PlayStation Portable games I really like include The Warriors, Dissidia: Final Fantasy, Burnout Legends, Valkyrie Profile Lenneth, Monster Hunter Freedom 2, Gran Turismo 4 Mobile and Soulcalibur Broken Destiny.