Video games have been a BIG part of my childhood experience growing up. The first video game system that I ever played was the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Games such as the original Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!!, as well as many others, challenged me to the point of nearly breaking my controller. These games were tough but one thing I never EVER did, was give up. No matter how difficult the game was, I always found myself getting past a certain point that may have taken me hours upon completion.
However, it’s the Nintendo 64 system that really introduced me to the gaming world. This system has arguably the greatest games of all time. Surprisingly enough, what actually brought me to purchasing the N64 wasn’t just the word of mouth on how great the system was, but rather the marketing that was used for the system, specifically the box art.
The box art has been a marketing tool for the entire generation of the N64 console. The clever box art made people like me, want to purchase the game to find out what was truly inside. This unique tool allowed the console to sell thousands and sometimes millions of copies around the world. The box art felt similar to renting a video at your local Blockbuster video store. The cover of the VHS or DVD was what really made you want to pick up and rent that particular video. The N64 games were no different.
For the record, I will not be discussing this list of ten games in detail or whether they are good or bad. All I want to focus on is the box art itself, and whether or not someone like myself, would want to either rent or purchase a copy of the game. Most of these games I have either played and/or own. This list is not to be biased by any means, even though most of these games are incredible and are considered some of the greatest N64 games of all time. Having said all of that, I would like to present you with my “Top 10 Favorite N64 Video Game Box Art!”
#10. Space Station Silicon Valley (1998)
The first thing that should immediately catch your attention when looking at this cover art, is the colorful large font size of the title Space Station Silicon Valley. The first part of the title is covered in a color that resembles grass with the remaining two words in orange/red with a purple outline surrounding the letters. I also love the catch phrase on the side that reads, “In the year 3,000 there are no petting zoos.” This shouts futuristic and sounds like a phrase you would read on the cover of a movie poster.
Taking a look at the overall color, we see lots of red, orange, and purple being used but perhaps the most interesting aspect of the entire box is the look of the animals. They are not your typical animals even though we can pretty much surmise what type of animals are on the cover.
You can see a purple smiling hyena with wheels, a yellow dog with wheels, a turtle shell with treads like that of a tank, and an oval shaped polar bear with a canon on its back (Fun Fact: if you’ve played the game, you know this isn’t part of this animal, but rather the camel that’s also on the front cover directly behind the bear. The box art however makes you believe it is part of the polar bear). You can also spot a flying vulture, and if you look really closely, you can see what appears to be a small fox with a rocket coming out of his rear end located directly behind the camels head!
This box art just screams ridiculous but believe it or not, that’s exactly what this game is. Even if you have not played this game, the game art shows that it doesn’t take itself too seriously with all the types of crazy looking animals and color schemes on the front cover.
#9. Super Mario 64 (1994)
Super Mario 64 will always hold a very special place in my heart. Not only was this the very first N64 game I played, but it’s also my personal all-time favorite. This was the very first Mario game converted into 3-D. We’ve had many games like the original Super Mario Bros. 1, 2, and 3 on the NES along with other titles the famous plumber is known for. But absolutely NOTHING compares to the first time we were able to move Mario both forward and backward instead of just side to side.
This box art gives you that and more. The art is full of many rainbow-like colors and of course has Mario front & center. The smiling plumber is seen wearing his famous cap with wings displayed on the side. The image shows Mario flying towards you, almost as if he’s calling you to join him on his next spectacular adventure. You can also find Peach’s Castle in the background along with two of Mario’s famous enemies; a Goomba and a Boo. A very colorful title and background shows that this game is a must buy!
#8. Paper Mario (2001)
This Mario game is a pure classic! Why am I not surprised that another Mario game would make this list? This cover is chock full of interesting characters and certainly makes you intrigued. A sweating Mario being carried by a Koopa Paratroopa? Bowser riding in his famous flying contraption from Super Mario World? Peach horrified at what she sees in front of her (what else is knew?). Of course nothing could take the cake with the catchphrase “Thinner Mario, Bigger Adventure!” Sold!
This box art has everything a Mario game should have: something uniquely different with the same basic elements that make it a true Mario game!
#7. Mario Part 2 (1999)
Another freaking Mario game!? Yes I know. I love this character, but you know what, I can’t help but gaze at the amazing box art that come with his games. But let’s be honest, is this a bad thing? Of course not!
Mario Party 2 is in my opinion, the best of the Mario Party games. No I’m not just talking about 1, 2, and 3 on the N64 ,but the other titles released as well. I think they’re up to number 10 right now if I’m not mistaken?
Anyway, what’s not to love about this cover? Of course you have Mario front and center but what’s he wearing? He looks like he’s coming from the old Wild West! You can also see both Luigi and Wario wearing some sort of space suit. Then you have a pirate Yoshi, DK wearing a witch’s hat, and Princess Peach looking like she’s about to go exploring somewhere like an archaeologist would. If you look closely you can even spot Bowser dressed as a pirate with an eye patch on a ‘WANTED’ poster in the far right corner of the box.
I’m not crazy about the catchphrase on the box that says, “Get the place jumping!” But honestly, who cares? Everything else stands out on this box that makes me want to purchase this game. It also doesn’t hurt that this is a sequel to a game that was a big hit on its release and still stands as one of the very best games on the N64.
#6. Worms Armageddon (1999)
This is one of the few games I have never played on the N64 console. However, what I can tell you is that I certainly would want to buy this game based solely on the cover. The marketing for this is incredible. The title alone makes this game look like a fun action/adventure game. I love how the word “Worms” has the nuclear symbol in the spot where the standard letter “o” would be.
The title isn’t the only part of the box that stands out. You have what I’m assuming is a worm that is holding all kinds of weaponry including a machine gun, and a pistol with a bullet that resembles “Bullet Bill” from the Super Mario franchise. You can also notice the gold tooth that this character has along with a smile and look that appears to be taken straight from an Arnold Schwarzenegger character from the movie Commando. Also, the exploding sheep in the background certainly sells this game, because it shows how crazy and ridiculous this game appears to be.
#5. Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine (1999)
While the title doesn’t scream Indiana Jones to me, what does make me want to purchase this game besides the cover art is the three phrases they chose to place on the front cover; “Pure Action. Pure Adventure. Pure Indy.” That’s a PERFECT selling point to those who are in love with the Indiana Jones franchise (remember this is WAY before the release of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull). Like the movies that came before it, this video game art is very similar to the movie posters for all three movies. Check them out below!
Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine bears a similarity to the cover art of the movies. It’s really three big paintings each telling their own exclusive story. Without going much into detail from the movie posters, let’s instead focus on the N64 cover art.
Like the films, the art does a great job sucking people in to join Indy on an adventure only this time, fans will take control of Indy and go exploring to find all kinds of rare artifacts. I also love how the pictures at the bottom blend in with Indy’s jacket as we see the communist symbol of Russia along with it’s apparent leader, a woman holding a flaming torch, and a dragon statue with a person I’m assuming who’s from China underneath of it.
The game appears to be global and allows gamers to get a sense of the adventure that awaits inside! This is yet another game I have never played on the N64, but if I ever get a chance to purchase it somewhere, I will certainly do so.
#4. BattleTanx (1998)
Just the name alone should immediately grab your attention. The front of this cover speaks volumes of exactly what this game is. It’s full of non-stop action and great special effects that still hold up to today’s standards! The box art shows you a person taking hold of a large tank that just recently fired off a round at an opponent. The destruction in the background gives us a sense that a major apocalyptic event has occurred and that many are fighting on the brink of survival.
The city in question must be somewhere based near or in New York as we see the Statue of Liberty looking ominously in the background. I also love how the cover informs you that it is a one to four player game. But it’s not your standard four player game, because they let you know right off the bat that it’s an “Intense 1-4 Player Action” game. The spectacle looks BIG- and you can certainly bet I purchased this one based just on the cover alone.
I also have to give a nod to its sequel BattleTanx: Global Assault. The cover art for this one is also enticing and makes you want to purchase this game, especially if you’ve enjoyed playing the original:
#3. Banjo Kazooie (1998)
First of all, I just want to go on record here and I say I prefer the sequel over the original game but in terms of the box art, Banjo Kazooie is the clear winner. There is so much happening on this cover, it’s hard to really understand what’s going on. But that’s what makes this cover great.
At first glance, you can’t help but notice a bear chasing after a gold/sparkling puzzle piece while carrying a helpless thing (in the game they are called Jinjos) and a bird that appears to be attached to the back of the bear. That’s just scratching the surface of this cover.
Take a look to your left and you notice all kinds of characters like the shaman wearing a skull mask, a giant dragonfly, a mole and a monkey (is that supposed to be Diddy Kong!?). To your right, you can spot a giant green witch who I’m assuming is supposed to be a knock-off to the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz. You also have four characters who can be seen near her with two of them located on her hat, one on her shoulder, and the other just below the palm of her hand.
It’s tough to gleam what exactly is going on here, but that’s the fun of it. Box art is not meant to tell you a story but rather draw you into the game by conjecturing your OWN story well before playing this game. If this box art doesn’t immediately intrigue you, then I don’t know what will.
#2. Star Wars: Rogue Squadron (1998)
Let me be very honest here. You can pretty much slap anything on a book, movie poster, or video game, call it ‘Star Wars’ whatever, and you have my money. Star Wars: Rogue Squadron is certainly no exception to this rule. I mean just look at this box art! It has Ralph McQuarrie written all over it even if he wasn’t the one who designed this cover. But whoever designed this, McQuarrie must have had an influence on this artist.
So what is actually happening in this picture? Well for starters, the X-Wing and Y-Wing fighters are being chased by Imperial TIE fighters as well as TIE bombers. This also looks to take place on some sort of desert planet (Tatooine?) with a city in the background. You can also notice the famous AT-AT (All Terrain Armored Transport) walkers causing massive devastation to the city that closely resembles Mos Eisley.
Overall, this box art screams Star Wars, and was a close second to my number one choice which you can find out next!
#1. Super Smash Bros. (1999)
Mario about to take on Pikachu!? Fox McCloud leveling Samus Aran!? I mean what’s not to love here? If the pictures on this box don’t sell you on this game, then perhaps the title Super SMASH Bros. will. With the words “SMASH” in big bold letters, it didn’t take long for this classic and much beloved N64 game to fly off store shelves as soon as this game was released.
The box art does a tremendous job informing gamers what they’re in for. Even the phrase “DUKE IT OUT as your favorite Nintendo characters” should immediately grab your attention. To have all of our favorite Nintendo characters in one game ready to take on each other is perhaps the single greatest idea Nintendo could ever have come up with! It’s like Marvel’s Civil War where all your favorite superheroes are fighting each other using their respective powers.
I also like how the box art is shown in a cartoon format. It has an almost anime-style vibe to it even though this game is anything but. You can also spot Nintendo fan favorites Link and Kirby on the right side of the cover. This box art truly represents what this game is and certainly made me want to purchase it as soon as the game was released to the public.
So those were my “Top 10 Favorite N64 Video Game Box Art!” What were some of your personal favorites? Were than any you felt should have been on this list? I’d like to hear your thoughts in the comment section below and please share!