When people think Halloween and video games the first things that comes to mind tends to be horror games and Halloween events in online games. However, here at Cover Court were going to be doing something a bit different. Looking only at a game’s box art, regardless of its genre, we’re going to rank the Top Ten Spookiest Video Game Box Arts. Court is in session.
You can’t talk about spooky things without talking about clowns. In recent years we’ve had a revival of scary white faced serial killers thanks to movies like IT and Joker, but of course clowns have their place in video games as well.
Arguably the most famous video game clown is Sweet Tooth from Twisted Metal, a classic vehicular combat series with dark humor and heavy metal aesthetics. I initially considered the cover for Twisted Metal Black on the PS2 for this spot, but came to the conclusion that despite trying really hard to be scary, it didn’t really work for me. So I went through the other entries in the series and found the perfect entry.
Twisted Metal 4’s North American box art. The grotesque smile on Sweet Tooth’s face as he engulfs the sky in flames and looks down upon the race is easily the most unsettling cover in the series. His yellow eyes and sharp teeth consisting entirely of fangs adds to the scary nature of his design too. A worthy entry on the list.
Nightmare Creatures is not exactly a game people remember these days. A horror action adventure released on PlayStation and Nintendo 64 in 2001 that hasn’t aged well and honestly had a pretty underwhelming box art as well. In North American and Europe that is.
In Japan, Nightmare Creatures got this beautifully disturbing cover with one of the titular creatures looking over the world in flames. While the low-poly 3D models of the original game doesn’t fully convey the horrific designs of the monsters, this cover more than succeeds in doing so.
The elongated snout with its Xenomorph-like mouth complete with exposed flesh and bone is beyond just disturbing. Makes you wonder just how unsettling a modern remaster or sequel to the series could potentially look like.
Speaking of the Xenomorph, SEGA’s Alien Syndrome series has always been an interesting knockoff of the famous Alien franchise with Xenomorph lookalikes appearing in essentially every game. With how many ports and releases the series has had I was certain I would find something disturbing to feature on here and at first I was actually pretty disappointed.
While some covers did have some creepy designs, it wasn’t until I found this gorgeously disgusting cover for the Atari ST port of the arcade game that I felt I had something worthy of this list. Forget the moldy chestburster and the strange eyeballs, what the fuck is that giant mutant face with a smaller face growing out of its chin!?
I feel like this cover shows that SEGA would have been better off not trying to be Alien as their original designs are just as disturbing as Giger’s classic design.
And speaking of Giger, the late master of erotic horror monstrosities. There were two games entirely devoted to adapting his art into a horrorscape to explore, the Dark Seed games. While the quality of the games, especially the second one, can be debated – the unsettling imagery of Mike Dawson’s dark world can not.
The cover for the original Dark Seed is plenty spooky on its own, but I would direct you to the Japanese cover used for the console ports of the game which actually includes more of Giger’s art than the North American and European cover. The “things” on the Keeper of the Scrolls’ sides are the monsters of a nightmare’s nightmare.
Fun fact, Dark Seed’s protagonist Mike Dawson was played and named after the game’s lead designer, Mike Dawson. He did not return for the sequel however.
There’s no secret to the fact that the North American cover for Bust-a-Move 2: Arcade Edition is creepy as hell and makes no sense in context of the game. I couldn’t make this list and not include it, which is why instead of talking about this night terror of a cover I wanna ask a question.
Why are so many Bust-a-Move covers super strange? It’s not just the creepy cover for the second game, a ton of the series’ covers are awkward, unfitting or disturbing in some way. Why is the series like this? Why would Taito do this? Bub and Bob doesn’t deserve this.
Paranoia Scape for the original PlayStation is a strange game. I don’t feel like trying to explain what the game is like would actually serve a purpose, it’s just that out of the norm. Is it scary? Yes. Is it unsettling? Absolutely. Is it confusing? You bet.
But what about the cover for the game?
Yep, that’s equally disturbing. The hundreds of eyes and arms doesn’t make for the most appealing cover and that’s putting it mildly. While not quite as creepy and abnormal as the content of the game itself, it manages to be strange enough to still fit and make it onto this list.
Corpse Party started as a small indie title in the late 90s and has since grown into a successful horror franchise complete with remakes, sequels, manga spinoffs and even live action movie adaptations.
I personally don’t have that much experience with the series, but the covers for the game tends to be somewhat standard for the genre. Gross gore, meaty monsters, tentacles and girls in peril. Nothing that’s actually worthy of being put on this list to be honest.
However, there’s an exception and it’s quite an odd one. An example of less is more.
The Japanese cover for Corpse Party: Blood Drive for PS Vita is creepy as hell just because of its lack of the series’ typical presentation. There’s no gore, there’s no monsters or sexual assault imagery. There’s just a selfie of some friends at school with faces blacked out, seemingly burnt out of the image.
That is absolutely horrifying and actually succeeds in enticing me as a player as well. A splatter gore cover isn’t exactly that interesting even if it’s creepy, but this makes me wonder just what happens to these four kids. Why are their faces burnt out? Do I want to know? Probably not, but I kind of feel like I have to know now… I guess I should play the game.
Okay, I’ll be honest. This might seem like a bit of a joke pick but I’ll explain why it’s on the list. This is the cover for the SEGA game Baku Baku. It’s meant to be exciting and fun and it’s just a happy Monkey and that’s it.
However, the reason this is on the list is because of how the 3D model on the cover has aged. To me, this model is absolutely horrifying. The see through eyeballs, the way nothing feels properly attached, the strange square teeth. Everything about it just fucks with my brain.
I am perfectly honest when I say I think this is one of the scariest covers for a video game ever all because of this horrific 3D model. And it’s from a forgotten 90s puzzle game.
Infocom had a pretty good track record of solid adventure games in the late 80s and early 90s. With Zork, Shadowgate, Deja Vu and more seeing praises, ports and sequels all over.
However, one of their games that has become somewhat forgotten was Suspended, a game that was released around the time they were trying out a new gimmick with their DOS release boxes. They started having plastic molded models sticking out of the box for a 3D effect.
The result was this terrifying box with a white face just staring at you, and not just that, the way it was designed allowed the eyes to follow you left and right as well. Absolutely terrifying and probably why it didn’t sell well and is now forgotten. The Atari ST cover wasn’t nearly as scary, for reference.
Let’s talk about Psygnosis. These days they’re probably most known as the creators of the Lemmings series of puzzle games and having been acquired by Sony. But in the 80s and 90s they made a lot of different kinds of games from pinball games to platformers to survival horror to shooters.
They also had some truly gorgeous painted box art for their games, a fan favourite being the cover of Shadow of the Beast for the Amiga. One could easily do a gallery of just their covers for that system alone, but we’re of course here to talk about their scariest cover.
This is the cover for BAAL. a mostly forgotten and not that great sidescrolling sci-fi shooter. Now I will admit that I have some very specific biases contributing to this being my pick for the spookiest box art ever. Namely a fear of insects and, as you might have noticed from some of my other picks, how I’m not that comfortable with hyper defined teeth.
BAAL delivers greatly on this, making for a cover that I actually struggled with looking at as I was writing out the script for this video. Truly deserving of the title of the spookiest video game box art ever.
And that’s it, what is your own spookiest video game box art? Was it on the list or not? Let me know! And as always, thank you to my patrons and if you like my videos, please leave a like and subscribe to my channel. I’ll leave you with some other honorable spooky mentions and some silly but unsettling covers. Court dismissed.