Dale muses on "Fail"

OneUp Studios co-founder and OC ReMixer Dale North has a new post up at Destructoid on America's history of crappy video game art and animation. Clearly the Mega Man series is in there. The video accompanying the post is tough in some cases (EarthBound? It's different, but what's wrong with that one?), but the gist of it is that Japanese art that's much more relevant to games is passed up for oftentimes non-sequitor art, usually resulting in cases of "fail."

Best moment of the video for me:
An iconic picture of Pac-Man is shown midway through the video: "Oh man! How are they gonna fuck that up???"
Seconds later, the Atari box art: "Dear LORD!"

Oof. I also don't believe I've ever seen anything as comparatively anti-septic and bland as the American box art for Breath of Fire III after the vibrant Japanese art.

And say what you will about the US-based cartoons being poor. You still watched them. Never ever heard of that DarkStalkers cartoon until now. Don't forget though that the Super Mario Bros. Super Show cartoon segments and Mario 3/Mario World cartoons by DiC were really strong all things considered.

One thing that could be noted for the present is that, with the foothold that manga and anime have on pop culture nowadays, a lot of the showcased art deemed unpalatable to American consumers back then is significantly more permissible. It remains to be seen what that'll translate to for future releases, but hopefully the days of Mega Man I's American box art are basically behind us.

A long-time gamer, Dale's been really active at Destructoid, so be sure to check out his regular updates.


Dhsu said...

Say what you will, but I liked many of the American boxes just as much, if not more, than their Japanese counterparts. The Pac-man one in particular was a cool re-imagining in my opinion.

Definitely agree about the DIC cartoons though, those were quality. The fact that they showed how Link fits all his items in his pouch proves to me how much they paid attention to the details. Had some pretty decent arrangements of the classic themes to boot.

Larry "Liontamer" Oji said...

Though I didn't agree on the Atari Pac-Man art, your point-of-view, almost looking at it from a "rearrangement" perspective, is intriguing. I don't agree with it for that case (or most of the cases, honestly), but it's certainly an interesting take.

Ironically though, your quick thoughts on the Zelda cartoon were exactly what I thought when I saw the clip as well, only I didn't bother to throw them in.

But yes, it was really cool showing the bow go into Link's pouch (I actually didn't remember this stuff), and the arranged version of the classic Zelda theme looked like DiC doing a very commendable job of being faithful to the spirit of the game.

Say what you will about the approach to the series being misguided (which I wouldn't agree with on any level). I'd say it was more cheesy, but not so out there as the DarkStalkers clip. I thought the inclusion of the Zelda series clip was a poor example in terms of poor American animation of game properties. Good call, David.