The PlayStation Portable (PSP) has a huge library. There are good games, bad games, good games with good boxarts, good games with bad boxarts, and bad games with bad boxarts. Here are seven of the worst boxarts of all time on the portable console.
PSP games with worst boxarts
7. Bounty Hounds
Certainly, Bounty Hounds delivers a solid action gaming experience; however, its boxart fails to show this. It appears as if it's a caricatured rendition of a 90s action film that your father and uncle might rent on VHS. While there's nothing inherently wrong with embracing a crimson color palette, the execution of the box art is perplexing. The protagonist depicted on the cover seems to be engaged in a tumultuous mix of scenarios – battling a swarm of aliens, sliding on an erupting spaceship, potentially crashing into a star, or perhaps fleeing from a detonating celestial body. It is that confusing.
Bounty Hounds attempts to incorporate a futuristic Action RPG setting similar to Star Ocean or Phantasy Star Online. It focuses on evolving its storyline and character development, offering pre-set characters with rich personalities and relationships, expressed through animated comic-book scenes. Players take on the role of Maximillian, the leader of the Bounty Hounds, embarking on a mission to clear alien-infested planets for human habitation. The game spans four different worlds, each with its distinct environment and challenges, and offers a leveling system that allows players to enhance various attributes.
6. Dead or Alive Paradise
Form is not always equal to content, but in the case of Dead or Alive Paradise, the game is as terrible as its cover. This is just a bad 3D art direction featuring a woman on a beach. The “Paradise” is incorrigible in itself with a weird choice of font style.
If one isn't a fan of the Dead or Alive girls, this game loses its appeal, as the mechanics and collecting seem arbitrary. Paradise, in particular, is criticized for recycling concepts and ideas, borrowing its premise from the second game and offering a disappointing lack of innovation. While the volleyball mechanics are sound, offering a challenging but enjoyable experience, mini-games like "butt battle" and "pool-hopping" are deemed novelties lacking depth and fun. Despite the game's visual appeal (read: 3D women with large “glands”), with vibrant beaches, its lack of innovation and improvement on the existing formula is viewed as a letdown. Paradise, in essence, is seen as a port with compressed activities and visuals, failing to meet the expectations of fans and potentially signaling a concerning direction for the Dead or Alive franchise, which in the year 2023 is probably Dead not Alive.
5. Carol Vonderman's Sudoku
Who is Carol Vonderman? Why is she on the cover of a Sudoku game? That is the first two questions that should spring from anyone who just wants to shop for a Sudoku game on the PSP. It seems like this game is some unofficial bootleg PSP game that was being sold in-game stores.
Carol Vonderman is not an unattractive woman. She is just not the authority on Sudoku. No one in the world would have connected the game to her at first thought. She may have a level of expertise on the puzzle but the cover does not give her any favor. Just look at that cover, why is she wearing a red dress?
The game itself is fine and all, it is Sudoku after all. The cover, reminiscent of MLM or women's supplement brochures, makes it unlikely for anyone to pick it up without reservations.
4. International Athletics
The publisher of International Athletics had a four-year window to devise boxart for this game. Originally launched on iOS in 2008, it made its way to the PSP in 2012 with the cover art in question. Featuring a French flag backdrop with two athletes—one celebrating, the other leaping—it's aesthetically inoffensive but ultimately uninspiring. Unfortunately, the chosen design lacks any distinctive elements and falls into the realm of plain boredom, a significant drawback.
Regrettably, the same label of "boring" extends to the game itself, and not in a positive way. Simple words suffice to describe both the lackluster box art and the gameplay. This is particularly disheartening as the package includes multiple games, presenting an opportunity for a potentially decent collection of sports games.
3. Mercury Meltdown
Why didn't the game publisher opt for the Japanese box art, which is a thousand times better than what they chose for both the American and European releases? It's crucial to note that Mercury Meltdown stands as one of the best puzzle games on the PSP.
The cover art of this game depicts what appears to be spilled red, blue, and green juices on a track. Unfortunately, it doesn't effectively convey the greatness of the game. The 2-in-1 package containing the original Mercury Meltdown and its sequel is even worse than this one.
2. Kingdom of Paradise
Dated 3D graphics alone don't inherently make a game or its box art unappealing. However, Sony, as the publisher, managed the unimaginable by sabotaging the box art for the American version of Kingdom of Paradise. Interestingly, even the European box art features a superior cover, making the disparity more glaring.
What's even more surprising is that both versions utilize the same 3D art, but the non-American variant is executed more effectively with darker colors, a better pose, and an improved background. The American box art for Kingdom of Paradise resembles something out of "Noddy, Toyland Detective" – it's atrocious and fails to represent the actual quality of the game.
1. Brooktown High
Judgment can be swift when it comes to game store purchases, and Brooktown High doesn't escape scrutiny with its particularly atrocious box art. Featuring subpar 3D graphics depicting a kissing couple, presumably high schoolers, the box art reaches a level of atrocity that might invite even harsher judgments from onlookers.
To be fair, Brooktown High is a competent dating sim. Most dating sims are set in Japan which has this incredibly different dynamic than the West, and even some countries in the East. Brooktown High is not set in Japan due to the tropes that the game employs.
Starting with character creation and navigating high school stereotypes, the game revolves around fitting into specific groups to make friends and pursue romance. The weakest aspect lies in the school part, with only four classes and repetitive dialogues, impacting relationships and grades. Interactions involve selecting responses tailored to each character's preference. The game follows a time management simulation, ending after the senior year with a glimpse into the character's future. Despite the short completion time and subpar mini-games, the overall experience is still enjoyable.