The Nintendo wasn't just home to the best games of all time, it was home to some of the most jaw-droppingly awesome game art of all time. Tons of NES games featured box art that would have been indistinguishable from any number of videos you saw at your local Block Buster. These are my 10 favorite examples!
10. The Adventures of Bayou Billy
Buy The Adventures of Bayou Billy - For the NES
Just look at that knife! And that outfit! And that Gator! This time Crocodile Dundee means business! You don't even have to notice the stogie-chomping big-bad, or the Jeep combat combat screaming down Bourbon street to know this is a wild ride!
9. Shatter Hand
Shatter Hand looks like a direct-to-video release. Everything about this dude is pure cheese: the shades, the white T-shirt, his generic rage-face. But, all of this just helps focus your attention to the real action on display: the dude's punching so hard that it actually broke the game's title. The fact that he apparently has secret robot-knuckles is just gravy. Shatter Hand looks awesome. Own up: if you saw this in theatres, you'd be tempted. Or at least, morbidly curious.
8. Kick Master
The only possible rival to Shatter Fist's pugilistic prowess must be the Master of Kicks! Kick Master looks like a Bruce Lee film starring Fabio and directed by John Carpenter. Axe wielding demons are flying off with some hapless victim. There's some sort of evil genie in the background. And lunging defiantly against it all is one man, armed only with his feet. Great stuff.
7. Power Blade
Power Blade shows us a typical stone-faced bad-ass, brandishing a chrome boomerang, as a city burns behind him. It seems kind of boring, but then so did the poster for The Terminator. As long as you have the right bad-ass striking a pose, that's all the imagery you need.
6. Clash at Demonhead
This is the most aggressively 80s box art on my list. In some sort of sci-fi post-apocalypse: one man will use his ray-gun. chrome body armor, and inhumanly perfect mullet to fight off...well, everything apparently. He facing off against a guy on a hover-bike, a dragon, and some kind of skeleton demon, all at the same time. It's a visual that's just so over-the-top, you can't help but want to know more about what's going down.
5. Ninja Gaiden
New York's in flames...no, check that. New York is literally exploding. And, what's the only thing standing in the way of this unfathomable cataclysm? A freaking Ninja. Do you honestly need anything else to know this is going to be 31 flavors of awesome?
Okay, now here's a great piece of artwork. It manages to elegantly tell you everything you need to know about the plot, while looking plenty flashy doing it. Some Conan-lookalike with a deadly whip is coming for Dracula. And judging, by how eager the vampire's looking to throw-down, things are going to get intense! Seriously, this image is so evocative you'd swear it really was for a movie.
Schwarzenegger and Stallone teaming up to fight the monster from Alien? Sign me up! Tell me that's not the idea that springs to your mind, when you look at this box art! Also, tell me that wouldn't have been the highest grossing film of '87!
2. Metal Gear
Fun fact: The art for the NES port of Metal Gear is almost identical to that used for the original MSX release. Why is this relevant? Well, that game's lead designer, Hideo Kojima, originally wanted to be a movie director. And, it shows. His team commissioned box art that is just dripping with vintage action-movie charm. Seriously, it looks like it was pulled right out of an early Kurt Russell flick...oh. Wait.
1. Double Dragon II: The Revenge
First off, Double Dragon II: The Revenge just sounds like it should be the name of a real movie. And a good one too. But even if it was called "Driving Ms. Daisy 2," this art would sell it as nothing but pulse-pounding action. Attack chopper? Check. A psychotic New York gang, wielding medieval weapons? Check. A damsel in distress? Check. Two all-American bad-asses taking on all of them, and making it look easy? Double check!
What do you think of my list? Are there any honorary mentions you'd like to add? Or do you think I'm giving any of this game art too much praise? I'd love to hear all your input in the comments below!