Most of the games on the original NES had nearly identical cover art. It typically showed a large, 8-bit rendition of the game's protagonist frozen in some semi-heroic pose. The cover art for Super Mario Bros. is no different, and yet, it has become one of the most immortalized pieces of graphic design in video game history. Anyone under the age of 40 should instantly be able to tell you exactly what this is, unless they're blind. In which case, you should probably apologize.
Ever since it was released in 2001, people have been using Fumito Ueda's ICO (and later Shadow of the Colossus) as proof that the video game can be a truly artistic medium. And before you even got the chance to put ICO into your PlayStation 2's drive, the Salvador Dali-inspired cover art made you realize that this experience wasn't going to be like any of your other PS2 favorites.
Also, you knew that you were probably going to cry at some point.
Silent Hill games have a long history of freaking people out with their storylines and visuals. But up until the HD collection finally hit the shelves this year, all of that panic has been kept off of the cover. Luckily, the folks at Konami were happy freak us out, even before we get a chance to tear off the shrink-wrap.
Just like the game itself, Heavy Rain's cover art manages to get its message across by fastidiously arousing your curiosity rather than screaming it into your ears in the manner we've all become accustomed to. Even before you open the box, John Cage's most recent opus begins to draw you in to the Heavy Rain universe, which will increasingly force you to experience the characters' misfortune from their own perspective.
Most games don't even attempt to squeak by with this type of simplicity, but Heavy Rain manages to do it with style to spare.
Speaking of simplicity…
I think Aristotle put it best when he said, "It is simplicity that makes the uneducated more effective than the educated when addressing popular audiences." Obviously, Aristotle wasn't talking about gamers, but I think we can probably still agree with him. And, if he's right, no game in history will be more popular among uneducated people than Left 4 Dead—at least, if the box art is any indication.
Just like the producers of Heavy Rain, Valve has managed to simplify Left 4 Dead's entire message to its most simplistic elements. This time that message can be communicated using four measly fingers. And in using those fingers they've created one of the most iconic covers in recent history.
Also, I may have just become the first video game journalist on earth to quote Aristotle in an article. You've just witnessed history here, folks. You're welcome.
Date: March 26, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*