The worst box art of the Sega Master System

The worst box art of the Sega Master System

Welcome back my Cart Art friends and oh do I have a treat for you. Last week we took a peek at some of the best cart art the Sega Master System (SMS) had to offer with Cart Art: Top 5 SMS Games. This week, we bring you a cavalcade of crap, a cornucopia of crud, the worst that Sega’s maroon and black box has to offer. Without further ado, in no particular order, the Top 5 Worst Sega Master System Box Art.

5. Alex Kidd in Shinobi World
Alex Kidd in Shinobi World

In all honesty, this entire list could just be Alex Kidd games. They are universally bad and goofy and I hate them so much. I decided to only go with one, mostly to save my sanity. So here we have Alex Kidd in Shinobi World. What is Giant Hand Super Sideburn Monkey Ninja to do when he is surrounded by the evil forces of the Deformed Minion Army? Call in help from his great ally, The Sun from the Raisin Brand ad and his two scoops of fury and justice. The background is so terrible, just some sort of bland, terra cotta town with the worst street light ever. Seriously, if your entire city is painted in shades of oranges why would you make your street light bulbs red? That some sort of sick joke by the city planner. I say no to you city planner. I will not enter Shinobi World’s desert high plains towns and I will not be fighting your goofy shirtless dumpy guy with different color facial hair then hair on the top of his head. It doesn’t matter how many delicious plump raisins your sun may bring me.

4. Cyborg Hunter
Cyborg Hunter

This cover is so metal that after looking at it for five straight minutes I nearly began an inappropriate relationship with my brushed finish toaster. Our hero, who apparent forgot his stormtrooper helmet back on the Death Star is getting ready to hurl a grenade at a giant metal angel. I think that’s a grenade, either that or he is going to give him a WD-40 bath which I think the angel might enjoy. I have two major issues with this cover. First of all, why is everything the same dang color? It’s like the artist was thinking “Hmm, I like the chrome finished on my car so lets just cover everyone in chrome. It will be sweet.” Couldn’t one of the two characters on the cover be a different shade of silvery metal. Even the friggin’ title of the game is in chrome. The color wheel is grand in splendor, take a look once in awhile. The second is why does the bad guy (I assume the giant red eyed Cylon crossed with a tele-tubbie is a bad guy) have wings? I mean if you are going to have a cyborg with wings, you make them look like jet wings, everyone knows this. No, no, we apparently have a Cyborg that is also a Seraphim. I would like to retract my previous statement. This cover is so not metal, it’s lame easy listening.

3. Wonder Boy in Monster Land
WonderBoy Monster

Holy crap! Look at the face of the silver (ick, more chrome) knight, the main hero of the game. That is one of the most frightening faces ever on the cover of a video game! Wonder Boy has such a sadistic look on his face, like tromping other the knights to the ground is the only way he can enjoy life. Eating, sleeping, going to work, interacting with the townspeople, everything is just something that gets in the way of slaking Wonder Boy’s endless thirst for the destruction of his enemies. I will give Wonder Boy one thing, he has a nice head of hair, a blonde bouffant nicely kept in place by a metal head band. And we have bats. . . I hate bats. Why are they even there? They add nothing to the cover. Stupid bats.

2. Ghost House
Ghost House

What did I just say about the bats?

This cover is so lazy. It’s just a picture of a guy holding the game. I don’t really have any comedy for this cover, I just wanted to share how terrible this cover is with you.

Stupid bats.

1. Zillion

I know I said at the beginning of this article that these games were in no particular order. Well I lied because this is not only the worst SMS game cover, I think it is one of the worse video game covers of all time. Can you tell me what this game is about? Is it some sort of Microwave operation simulator? Sweet, I got to level 20, now I can use the defrost setting! I don’t get it. You know what is worse? The range oven thing on the cover isn’t even centered. I can only assume that this cover was a mistake by the art department that no one caught. Zillion 2 was a great cover but this? It tells us nothing about the game, it’s not centered, it’s a just a slap in the face of everything that is Cart Art. If you saw this cover, would you buy this game? I think not. The game could be great, I mean it got a sequel and it could not have been on strength of the first game’s cover. Covers like this make me want to get out of this Cart Art business. They also make me want to stop playing video games as well as tear out my ocular nerves and hurl them into the sun. But that would deny you good people who view the Retroist the unbridled joy of looking at covers like this. Now if you excuse me, I need to get to level 30 because then and only then can I adjust the power level on the microwave and it’s all about reheating last night’s pasta. What more can you ask of a game?


OffisaPups is a lover of fine retro gaming (video as well as board), classic comic strips and has a noggin filled with decades of television ads and song lyrics. Due to fears of a zombie apocalypse, do not approach OffisaPups while groaning, staggering with out-stretched arms, or requesting brains. Needless to say, OffisaPups has a very understanding and patient wife and a daughter who has no hope of a normal, non-dork upbringing.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. I thought most of the SMS covers were terrible. I make it a point to buy them without boxes just so I don’t have them ruining the looks of my other games.

    Bah terrible!

  2. Oh, man! I swear the Alexx Kid artwork looks just like those cheesy paper cut-out animations from Monty Python!!

  3. This format of Cart Art — quick hitting a small collection — is really nice. I like you can throw out the most important observations without it seeming like you needed to fluff anything. You were really on your game with this one, too. I especially enjoyed the “two scoops of fury and justice” and the bit about Wonder Boy’s intense sadism.

    There’s just a couple of things I feel like you overlooked, but that demand attention. One is Wonder Boy’s extremely awkward sword fighting technique. Not only is his grip strangely recoiled, but how is it even possible to swing upward in that backward position with the red knight’s arm in the way like that? Finally, is it just me, or did the red knight just step in a heaping mound of feces?

  4. My bad on the stuff I left out on Wonderboy. In addition I realized he is not wearing armor but rather some sort of silver lyrca suit. It’s just when I see bats on a cover, I black out and find myself crying in the corner with a half empty bottle of gin a few hours later.

  5. OffisaPups, you’ve knocked it out of the park once again! So the bad guy on the cover of Cyborg Hunter…am I the only one that thinks it looks almost like Rom the Space Knight?

  6. What about the SMS version of ‘Pro Wrestling’. Its belongs on any “Bad Box Art” list.

    Yeah, I wonder why Nintendo ended up with so much more market share than Sega back in the 1980’s with all of their totally rad box covers!

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