The Gallery of Hideous Box Art

Valis III

Valis never made much of a difference in the 16-bit gaming industry, but its mix of big-eyed anime overtures and uncomplicated gameplay won a certain fan following. It always had a lot in common with Konami's Castlevania line, and, intentionally or not, Valis III seems a counterpart to Castlevania III. Both games are visually impressive enough to overcome somewhat sluggish play, both are favorites among franchise fans, and both let players control multiple characters. Castlevania III never had box art like this, though.

The three heroines of Valis III are pictured above on the cover of the game's PC Engine CD release. While the blue border is confusing and the art merely adequate, the cast at least looks as they do in the game. The sorceress at the rear is Valna, the whip-wielding beast-girl in the foreground is Cham, and the blue-haired lass in the armored bikini is Yuko. Remember what Yuko looks like, as she's the focus of the game's American cover.

Stop looking at me. Please.

I think this is supposed to be Yuko, at least. Not only does this illustration bear little resemblance to Yuko's design, but it's not clear if this is even supposed to be a woman. The excessive shading around the character's face makes it look as though she's growing stubble, and the oddly elongated arms and large hands lend the figure an androgynous look. “Her” expression isn't comforting either. Some game covers are blatantly disturbing, badly drawn, or unrelated in tone, but this one is just creepy in an indefinite way.

It's a shame that unsettling art may have turned a few customers away from the TurboGrafx/TurboDuo CD version of Valis III. With Turbo Technologies Inc. squandering ad money on Johnny Turbo and the system getting far less magazine space than the Genesis, SNES, or even the NES, Turbo titles needed good packaging to drive those impulsive in-store purchases. Sadly, TurboGrafx cover illustrations had never exhibited high standards before, and the ball was dropped yet again with Valis III.

On the Sega Genesis, however, a port of Valis III found success in America both critically and commercially, aided perhaps by a cover that wasn't quite as ugly. (Or perhaps by appearing on a system that was genuinely popular, but that's open to debate.) Still, Yuko couldn't catch a break here either. Check out the “Yuko SMASH!!” look on her swollen face.

Next: Project Airbrushing. Again.

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