The Gallery of Hideous Box Art

Clash at Demonhead

There's really no science-fiction art quite like that wonderful vintage from the 1980s, when some illustrators were convinced that the future would outfit everyone in stainless steel headbands and neon miniskirts and feathered, dye-blond hairstyles. It was a vision that became embarrassing seconds after its invention, but this style survived for years in the lesser arts of B-movies, hair-metal album sketches, and NES game box art. That's where Clash at Demonhead comes in.

There's more to Clash at Demonhead's cover than a future sponsored by hi-tech He-Man toys and light-up L.A. Gear shoes, of course. There's the oddly proportioned dragon creature on the left, tiptoeing across a stained-glass sidewalk to gingerly reach out and grab the ass of the game's hero, Sgt. Billy “Big Bang” Blitz. There's the apparently legless man on a hoverbike, which is either shown in an odd perspective or designed for six-year-olds to pilot. There's a woman, presumably Mary from the game, backing away from it all, clearly worried that the gunfire will ignite the seventy accumulated pounds of hair spray she's wearing. There's the torsoless and buglike skeleton-beast, who might be the villainous Tom Guycot, reeling back as he scratches the artist's name in the air. Finally, there's Big Bang himself, resplendent in his Rambo headband, armored codpiece, and fabulous rock mullet. He looks vaguely revolted by the whole situation.

It's a magnificent cover, perfectly capturing the 1980s brand of futurism. It's also an understandable reinterpretation of the actual Clash at Demonhead game, which is packed with the sort of '80s manga exaggeration that U.S. publishers just weren't having on their NES game packaging.

This style is in full effect for the cover of the Japanese version, known as Dengeki Big Bang. Like most Famicom box art, it represents the game in a cruder fashion, on the level of simplistic kids' comics.

Yes, it's more faithful to what you get inside Clash at Demonhead, though it doesn't tap into a marvelous, short-lived vein of hilarious sci-fi artwork. You're more truthful, Dengeki Big Bang cover, but you're just not as fun.

Next: The Legend of God-Slaying Miyazaki Rip-Offs.

All applicable characters, names, and titles are copyrighted by their respective companies and used for review purposes.