The best video game cover art featuring Ninjas

Ninjas. Just say it with me. Ninjas. The world sizzles the air like fresh bacon in a hot pan. . .that mysteriously appeared out of now where, thanks to a delivery from the breakfast ninja. As a child of the 1980’s, I was a huge ninja fan, be they of they of the mutated teenage turtle variety or not. These mythical assassins spawned a ton of play time for my friends and I. I had plastic ninja swords, plastic (and later real) ninja stars, ninja action figures (Stormshadow forever!), I even went as a Ninja for Halloween twice. Of course, we had Ninja video games. There are a billion Ninja video games out there and since I went through over 7,000 covers for the last cart article, I decided to go with games I remember playing in my childhood. So put on your best all black clothing, because we are lurking in the shadows for this one.

Ninja Kid
Ninja Kid

Yeah, starting on a downer. Is it ever good when the front of the game box has a screen shot of the game on it? Let’s call a spade a spade. Are you ever going to be afraid of our purple clad ninja boy coming for you out of the shadows? No, no you are not. Look at his hat. I know it is supposed to look like a head wrap but it has more of a Shriner’s fez to me. The sword on is back is at least 33% longer then the Kid Ninja is tall. Now, I find it hard to tell if the ninja is hurling the ninja star or is the ninja star shooting a lightning bolt at the ninja? In end, I only have one request to all those video game character designers out there: If you are going to unmask a ninja, do not give him rosy cheeks. . . please.

Maui Mallard in Cold Shadow

Donald Duck is going to . . .kick. . . your . . butt. Not only is Donald going to take your down, he is going to do it blind folded, that how strong his Ninjitsu is on this cover. Look at the intensity of that water foul’s face, there is only pain and suffering for Donald’s enemies. I know I am stretching this cove out since there is not a whole lot going on but I feel that everyone needs to view this cart art. If for no other reason then to have dreaded nightmares of fierce Donald beating your rear with that staff.

Kid Nikki Radical Ninja
Kid Niki

How radical is this cover? So radical that nothing on this cover looksremotely like a ninja! Where to begin? Our hero here, Kid Nikki has been hitting the gym, oiling up for combat with a tight sleeveless yellow t-shirt and sporting a sweet mullet with a rat tail. He looks more like secondary character in a Conan movie than a master of the shadow arts. The sword? Right out of barbarian comic books. Does the captured woman (who looks like one of Jemm and the Holograms) have the same hair as the hero? In the background of the photos we have some sort of giant punk rock ork, an jacked executioner wielding a ball and chain and a very depressed looking centipede monster. All three of those on the same cover. . .is. . .fantastic! You know how this cover was made in the 1980’s? Pink! A whole lot of pink. Is the text for Kid Niki up top from a ransom note? Why are there a random smattering of shapes near the top? So many questions, so little time.

Ninja Golf
ninja golf

A perfect cover! This cover is EXACTLY what this game is about, a ninja playing golf. The little touches are what makes this cover fantastic. The golf tees and golf ball on the ninja’s chest, the nunchuk hanging out of the bag, the ninja even has a golf umbrella in his bag! How awesomely prepared is that! I enjoy thinking about the guy posing for the cover dressing like this and trying keep a straight face. Maybe that’s why he is wearing the full and proper protective ninja head gear. I may need to dress as a ninja again for Halloween again, but this time bring along the old golf bag.

Shadow of the Ninja
Shadow of the Ninja

Alright, got a pretty sweet cover here. Female ninja in flowing robes, male ninja with a cyber arm (head kinda looks like Ryu from Street Fighter), flying mega fortress in the sky, factory and seaport in the background, mountain strong hold to the right, all sorts of great things. Wait. . . what is that on the bottom right hand side? What the heck is that? Some sort of heavy metal sea horse? Why is that there? Everything about this cover is great, exactly what you want from a Ninja’s in the future game but what is the point of the metallic Hippocampus? Un-Ninja, very, very un-ninja.

Until next time, keep you Ninja-to sharp, you blow gun darts poisoned and always be hiding in the shadows. . . or at least grow yourself on totally awesome rat tail.

Cyborg Hunter

The weirdest/greatest video game cover art ever

When we here at Cart Art (and by we I mean me) scour the internet to find you some of the best and worst in the world of video game cover art, sometimes we encounter covers so random, yet so fantastic, we grab them and save them to a special place. All of these covers are so different and odd that they will never ever fit into a regular Cart Art article. Well the time has come to share these covers and I can not stress this enough, they are 100% fantastic, all for different reason. We are also fairly certain you have not heard of any of these games (but big thumbs up to you if you had) but really, you do not need to have played these to enjoy the covers. Brace yourselves readers of the Retroist, as we delve headfirst into Crazy Cover Hodgepodge.

Armourdillo
Armordillo

In the distant future, when our cities have been reduced to rubble and civilization has collapsed, only one things stands between man and the icy grip of oblivion and that is. . . a tank shaped like an Armadillo? What the heck? Not only does this ‘tank’ look more like goofy cake decoration, it is piloted by some rejects from a 1950’s science fiction serial. Why do 90% of all science fiction ground vehicles on the covers of video games have big, easy to shoot, exposed areas where the crew sits? And why the tongue? I could imagine that the big tail has something to do with the tank’s futuristic drive system and that the eyes are part of it’s super advanced sensor system but the tongue? It’s an Armadillo, not a freakin’ ant eater. Can not wait for the sequel game: Armourdillo 2: Rise of the Aadvark-a-tank.

Clowns
clowns

File this one under the one of the following two categories:

1. If you where not afraid of clowns before, you are now.

Or

2. If you are already afraid of clown, good luck ever sleeping again after looking at this cover.

Frankie Goes to Hollywood
Frankie

Yeah, that’s right, the band behind the lyric “Relax, don’t do it,” have their own video game. If you are ever going to have yourself on the cover of a video game, insist on using an actual photograph because thanks to the hand drawing, every single one of the band members ends up looking like that creepy uncle whose house you where never allowed to sleep over at. . . ever. I have not played the game nor am I really into Frankie Goes to Hollywood so I am sure there is a reason for the lead singer to be holding a giant remote control, other then to prove he is a massive RC plane enthusiast of course. Speaking of playing the game, take a break from this article and go read one Wikipedia on this game, especially the game play. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Done?
Good, bet you are now very elated you never ever played this game.

Operation Neptune
OpNeptune

Wow! There is not way this game is as good as the cover makes it out to be. Jet Ski chases, parashooting down onto a submarine, underwater frogman knife fights, wresting an octopus for goodness sakes. That is some super awesome action! The guy is stabbing a shark with a knife! Now, I am wondering why the artist decided that the giant version of the main character needs to get shot near very private area by another scuba guy with lasers. . . wait, do lasers even work under water like that? Does it really matter? No, not one bit. If the game is just 1/10th as action packed as the cover, it would be the best game in the world, not some game you have never heard of until now. I know for sure if I ever saw this cover in the game store, I would have gladly robbed my grandmother blind or sold some internal organs to get the cash to buy this game. Oh and by the way, we have not reached the most awesome cover on the list yet.

Revenge of the Mutant Camels

This cover reminds me of one of those picture seek puzzles where they ask you to find something like a baseball bat in the picture and it is hidden against a fence post. So here, try the find the following insane things:

* A green Pac-Man
* A peace symbol sun
* A camel on skis
* A fleeing teapot
* A devil chasing a human with a lighter
* A wind surfing camel
* Sheep that look like they have run over but somehow are still standing.

Skate Board Joust

What did that monkey with spider web armpits do to you? Come on now stereotype of 1980’s extreme fun seeking teen youth, there is no reason to ram your rocket powered ‘death’ board into that poor arachno-simian. Is it me or does it seem that the three main things on the cover, the guy, the skateboard and the monkey all seem like they were not made for this cover? Like three random clip art images slammed together to make a cover. Enjoy those pink lines on black background? Feel like I am looking at a shirt from a Chess King store.

Saboteur II

This is the single best cover I have found to date. Simply, it is a ninja, riding a motorcycle, wielding a katanna, fighting off panthers, while driving away from a giant explosion. I do not really need to say any more. Just let the awesomeness wash over you, like a cooling wave of fantastic-ness.

Normally I take this paragraph to tell a few very terrible jokes and sign off. This time, I would simply just like to thank all you cover loving fans out there for your comments on the website and your eyes on the articles. If you folks are not there to read it, I’m just a crazy internet dude writing to no one in particular. I do hope you enjoy these articles and I do thank you for all the reads. Until next time, good luck and happy cart-arting.

Cart Art: Advergames

The checks have been cashed and the Cart Art coffers are filled to the brim with greenbacks from our corporate sponsors, so we are going to have to pony up and look at the strange world of Advergames. What is an Advergame you ask? You know how in modern video games you will have real world products and advertisements in the backgrounds? Well take that and multiply it by a thousand. In these games you will find mascots and items placed for no other reason then to provide another avenue of brain invading advertisement space. So without further ado, Cart Art presents: Advergames.

Yo Noid!

For those not around in the 1980’s, or maybe those with foggy memories, The Noid was a mascot for Domino’s Pizza. The general principle behind the character of The Noid was that he would void the freshness of your pizza so you would have to “Avoid the Noid.” Yo Noid! was made by Capcom. . . .wait Capcom? My dear sweet creator of such awesome Nintendo games as Ducktales, Megaman and Bionic Commando sold out and made this 8 bit billboard? Bad form Capcom, bad form. This cover, is not too bad so at least the in house Capcom artist did their job well. I mean, don’t you want to hurl yourself from crane held i-beam to crane held i-beam via a pogo stick/pizza crusher while careless twirling your yo-yo? At least if you bought this game you got a 1 dollar off coupon some Domino’s. Thanks. You think if you plucked down the 40 to 50 bucks for this game new, Domino’s could have maybe thrown in some free bread sticks or a buy one get one free coupon. Just 1 stinking dollar off!

Chester Cheetah: Too Cool to Fool

Doesn’t this cover make you want to eat some Cheetos (the small cave man war club ones, not the puffy lame curls)? Or at least throw them up. Ugghh, the black background with orange puff pattern makes me want to jam said Cheetos directly into my eyes holes. Look at the artwork, as if Too Cool to Fool was not an alliteration enough, the sign above Chester tells us to Zip to Hip City. Only one alliteration per cover dang it! By the way, what Zoo staff is forced to wear Nazi like uniforms? Zoo employee is one of the rare jobs that the more pockets and the more khaki the better, but in the Four Corner Zoo the keepers rock the SS look. Oh look, Chester has spots so his motorcycle must have spots! Another masterstroke of creative genius! I hate you Kaneko for making this cover.

M. C Kids

Something about cheap, basic looking outfits with matching white tennis shoes that makes me think less a pair of video game buddies and more of a comet related suicide cult. Maybe it’s just me. Don’t you just love how in order to keep things realistic, the kids on the cover are kinda chunky, must be from all those pre “Super Size Me” kids meals. This cover is kind of bland, so much that I prefer to re imagine it in my head as M.C. Esher’s Kids. How fantastic would that game and cover be?

Cool Spot

If you must play one of the games from this list, make it Cool Spot. Spot, a former mascot for 7 UP brand soft drinks, is brought to us by Virgin Game, same company that did M.C Kids. They are the kings of the Advergame! Cool Spot is a very good, early to mid 1990’s 16 bit era platformer that a lot gamers look back fondly at, an example of a quality advergame. The cover, well, it’s not that terrible. Spot does seem way to large for such a tiny surfboard. The obligatory fish in the background of a cover with water on it is starting to become one of my pet peeves. I mean, it’s not unnecessary bat usage but it’s getting there.

Chase the Chuckwagon

Ok, I was running out of retro games (sorry, the Burger King games from a few years ago are just too new and I couldn’t come up with anything for the Kool Aid Man game) so I grabbed this one. I am not too sure if this is the cover to the game or an ad for the offer from the Purina Company to get the game but let’s look at it anyway. Let this be a lesson to all graphic design folks out there, metallic silver with black text just looks terrible when scanned. I am fairly certain that my lesson is pretty lame but dang it, I have to teach! This maybe due to the scan of the image I found on the interwebs, but doesn’t it look like the dog just stepped into a puddle of wee-wee. Oh family friendly terms for a friendly website, you are so much fun to use!

All this selling out must come to an end sometime and that sometime is now. If you have any questions, suggestions or comments for Cart Art, please feel free to leave them in the comments section or email me at OffisaPups@retroist.com. Next time, oh do I have a super special treat for you Retroist.com readers out there. It’s going to be a Crazy Cover Hodgepodge and I promise you will not be disappointed by these gems. Now if you excuse me, I need to go swim a few laps in my Scrooge McDuck-ian size cash pile. After all, Greed is good. Avdergame covers? Hmmm, not so much.

Cart Art: Tron

I know last time I promised you that we would take a look into the dark, dank world of Advergames and I promise we will next time. However, with the impending release of Tron Legacy and all the Tron related goodness on the Retroist.com, I figured that we must take a look at the covers to some of the Tron video games that have come out over the years. So squeeze into that neon color body suit and put a shine to you identity disk because we are taking Cart Art onto the game grid.

Tron: Solar Sailor
tron solar sailer

ZZZzzzzzzz. . . . .zzzzzzzzzz. . . *blink blink*. . . Oh sorry, I fell asleep looking at this beige monstrosity. This cover is dreadfully boring, only the speech bubble, title text and image of the sailor interrupt the text laden, cream colored snooze-fest of a box front. Based on the position of the speech bubble that informs us that the game “talks,” are we to think that the word Tron is speaking to us? Tron the character? Nope, Tron the word. What about the wording on the bottom. In all caps is says “FOR COLOR TV VIEWING ONLY?” Would the game explode and impale shards of Intellivision into your head if you played on a black and white TV? You know what? That would be a better then having to look at this cover any more.

Adventures of Tron
adventures of tron

Now, this is a much better cover. I think a little to much space is spent on the M Network logo but still, this cover gets the job done. The black and white line patterns do a good job as representing the grid line style of the Tron world. On the bottom you have a tank as well as a Recognizer (the two legged stompy thingy) as well as a program which I assume is Tron himself. However, it looks like Tron has been drinking a little to much from a caffeinated energy pool because he has got that thousand micron stare. Wait, is Tron missing his left (our right) arm? Maybe that’s why he has that dead eyed vacant stare, he is hopped up on electro-pain killers to numb the agony of having his arm derezzed.

Tron: Deadly Disks
Deadly Discs

When I think of a Tron video game from the early 1980’s, this is the kind of cover I picture. Tron and Sark are featured predominately, in all their disc hurling, circuit line body suit goodness. Again we have an Recognizer standing there on a grid. Something about Recognizers when they are in the “feet” inward position, they look less intimidating and more like some awkward kid trying to gather up the courage to ask a girl to dance at the High School prom. Oh red Recognizer, you are so bashful. While I am normally not a huge fan of color clashes like the red background with mostly blue artwork, it works well here. It almost make the cover seem like it is glowing, like it was just plucked from the clutches of the Master Control Program and put right on the store shelf.

Tron 2.0
tron2

Yeah yeah, you got your fancy discs and your grey togas, you can take all that and go run into a terminal fault error because this time, this program has got a gun and is not afraid to derezz your program butt at a hundred paces. Well you gotta ask yourself, did he fire 64K of data or 128K? You feel your calculating software is up to date? Well, do ya punk? This cover serves as a good bridge between the original Tron style and the direction of style for Tron Legacy. The body suit now has armor and the thing I find most interesting and a major departure from the original Tron is the hair. Every program in the original Tron wore a helmet of some kind (though we did have beards) but he has got a nice little do uptop. Tack on some armor and you got a program that is ready to throw down on the game grid.

I know it is not a game cover but I figured since I only had four carts to review, I would share this image with everyone. This is from the Playstation 2 game Kingdom Hearts 2, which, as mentioned on the podcast, has a level that takes place inside a Tron world. I love the “Tron-ified” Donald Duck and Goofy. This is not so much a review of the image but I figured I would share.

Well, the laser has de-compiled us and sent us back to the organic world, so we must bid a bye-bye to the digital universe of Tron based video games. If you have an suggestions, comments or questions, please feel free to put them in the comments section or send me an email at OffisaPups@retroist.com. Next time we will, as promised ,look at the world of Advergames. Until then, I got my Light Cycle fueled up, just ran a defrag on my identity disc and my solar sailor is prepped for launch. Now if only this neon blue skin tight suit came in a XL.

Cart Art: Better Then Super, it’s Ultra!

Last time, on Cart Art, I left you with a little riddle: “When is a Konami game not a Konami game?” Well, when it is an Ultra game. Time for a little history lesson. Back in the the heyday of the Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo had a lot of rules in regards to who can release a game and when. One such rule was that no third party publisher could put out more then 5 games a year. Well that did not sit well with Konami who had all sorts of goodness in the pipeline. The solution? Konami formed a second studio, called Ultra Games in order to get around this 5 a year limit. Let us celebrate their loop hole by taking a look as the covers to some Ultra Games.

Base Wars
Base wars

Oh heck yeah! Robots playing baseball! Fightin’ on the base path and what not. This is one of those great covers that shows you exactly what the game is about. I do have a few issues with some of the text however. On the top, the cover states that this game is part of the Cyber Stadium Series. Were there any more games in this mythical Cyber Stadium Series? At least Mutant League had two games (Football and Hockey). Why not Basket Wars for basketball? Well I guess a title called Basket Wars sounds less about robots playing basketball and more of about the cut throat world of basket weaving. Now, since this game came out in the late 80’s, how does the Wars end in a S and not a Z? Base Warz! See, so much more 80’s then before.

Nightshade
Nightshade

I find it impossible to look at this cover and not immediately think of the seminal 1990 Liam Neeson film, Darkman. The only thing missing are the bandages. Looking at the face the hero on the front, with those thick glasses and huge nose, I wonder if his hero mask is actually on of those classic Groucho Marx novelty glasses. In addition, how many giant moons with Anubis dog heads does this city have? You have the big one in the background yet you also have the ones reflected in the hero’s sunglasses (at night, so I can, so I can. . . ) that are at a completely the wrong angle to reflect the moon in the background. It may be that the image I have is not high enough in the resolution department but the two little figures on the ground by the fence: why is a that fast business man in way to tight pants assaulting a mime trapped in an invisible box?

Metal Gear
metal gear

Now, we all know (well I know and now you will know if you did not know) that this cover is based on Michael Biehn’s character from the first Terminator movie. This cover in fan-friggin-tas-friggin-tic. So much is going on. For starters, could they cram any more accessories on that sub machine gun that Solid Snake is holding? It has a silencer, extended clip, shoulder strap and scope! Guess they couldn’t figure out to put a bayonet on it. Good thing that Double S decided to bring his bike lock along (his left shoulder), can’t be to careful around all those narcoleptic guards. I love the little wires and plugs that help sell the futuristic feel of the game. Wait a minute, the large white pack and plugs into the belt, Snake is not infiltrating Outer Heaven, she is gearing up for a game of Photon! Looking at the Metal Gear its self, does it have enough firing ports on it? There are like 7 big ones and like 2 little one branching off the top left hand side. Is this thing steam powered?

Skate Or Die
Skate or Die

How 1990 is this cover? If any of the following words do not immediately come to mind when you look at this cover, you did not live through the 80’s: Tubular, Radical (or simply just Rad), Ill, Sick, Mondo, Cowabunga, Where’s the Beef?, I Love What You Do For Me, Toyota! Whoa, sorry there folks, I got 1980’s catch phrase overload there. My bad, my bad. Check out that shirt, all yellow and full random shapes and patterns. And those shorts! Takes a brave man to rock powder blue jams. I greatly enjoy the pair of yellow rec specs right under the S in Skate. Perfectly random, no reason to be there yet the cover is way better with them.

Pirates!
Pirates

After looking at this cover, don’t you want to play this game? The cover to Pirates! (or Pir-“larger A”-tes!) has it all. Let’s run down the check list:

– Open treasure chest overflowing with all sort of glitters and baubles? Check

– Skeleton reaching out to grab said chest? Check

– Awesome ship to ship cannon exchanges? Check

– Guy with peg leg fighting some Three Musketeer looking dude? Double Check.

– Naval chart wall paper? Check

– Intense evil skull pirate with eye patch, jaunty hat, bloodshot sunken eye, missing teeth and a stringy, waterlogged beard/mustache combo? Super mega ultra check!!!

You tally that all up and you will forget all about ninjas and robots or whatever else all those kids on the inter-webs argue on their chat posts and talking rooms and whatnots.

All good things (okay okay, mediocre things) must come to an end. I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane with the stop off on the video game cover cul-ed-sac. If you have a comments, questions or suggestions, please feel free to leave them in the comments section or send me an email at Offisapups@retroist.com. Next time, Cart Art cashes in and sells out when we take a look at some Advergames. Now if you excuse me, I’ve got my bike lock plugged into my belt, my eye patch is on tight, my ugly yellow shirt is clean and novelty big nose glasses are in place. It’s time to play a little of America’s cyber future pastime.