I am PekoponTAS. I have tourette's syndrome, and I have been a gamer my whole life. My favourite franchise is Kirby, and my all time favourite game is The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX. I'm a big fan of underrated hidden gems, and I tend to have opinions on games that really conflict with the popular opinion. Anyways, glad to meet you all and stuff.
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I don’t know about you, but one of my favourite things to do with a new game is to just stare at the cover and really look it over. When you use your imagination, this can be really enjoyable to do, as you may find yourself thinking up funny things about what you’re seeing
When you over think things, video game boxes can be a lot of fun. However rather than talk about some stupid, funny box art, I want to instead talk about a certain box art that I really love. The box art to Etrian Odyssey.
The first thing I gotta say is that the cover is beautifully drawn, and full of colour. The forest is drawn with a lot of detail, and a lot of effort was put into the border which surrounds the main picture. You’ll also notice that the space outside of the main picture is made to look like an aged book, and it too looks really good. I think one of the most impressive things about the artwork is that the more flatly coloured anime characters and the more realistic looking forest actually fit together perfectly. One would think the two styles would clash, but instead they fit together like a glove.
Far too often do games not give a crap about their logo, but Etrian Odyssey cares, and it’s one hell of a nice logo. The cover is very much like those fairytale books they had at the start of early Disney films, what with similar page texture, borders, and of course the font. However the silly side of my imagination has sort of spoiled this logo, since all I can think of is that the guy just drew it with his left hand, and as he was finishing the Y he sneezed and caused that somewhat ridiculous swoop.
Let’s talk about the characters shall we? My favourite character on this box is the girl, because in just this one still picture, you can get so much out of her. First of all, Atlus gets some points for not making her a scantily clad character which would make her completely vulnerable to enemy attacks, and instead gives her a full suit of armour, with the exception of a helmet. It’s interesting because normally in RPGs female characters can’t wear this type of heavy armour, which just makes her all the more cool. When you add the fact that she wields a sword unlike most female RPG characters, she’s turned into a badass heroine. Naysayers may claim that it’s sexist that she has a full suit of armour and the men don’t, thus implying that women are physically weaker than men and need to be more heavily protected, but I call bullshit. If anything, this just proves that the men are being dumbasses for not wearing protective clothing, just so they can wear their ninja outfits.
Now before I go any further, I need to explain a bit about how the actual game plays. The game is a first person dungeon crawler, but unlike most recent dungeon crawlers that have randomly generated maps, the Etrian Odyssey games always contain the same maps. The gimmick here is that there aren’t any maps to find to see where you’re going, which means that you have to draw your own map on the touch screen. It’s intended to be a throwback to the really old school dungeon crawling RPGs on the PC where you DID have to draw your own maps on paper to know where you’re going. Later in the game they introduce enemies called F.O.Es that are visible enemies on the maps, and should you encounter one, you’re basically instantly dead. You need to carefully plan your route to avoid these things, otherwise it’s game over.
Now that you know all of that, I can go back to talking about the cover. Using the power of imagination, one can piece together a whole story based on this picture. The characters are leaning out from the side of the picture, and they’re all in a fighting stance. The girl’s mouth is open as if saying something to the others, and judging from their poses, we can easily assume that she is saying “stay on guard!”. That would explain their fighting stances, what with the girl having her sword at the ready, the archer with an arrow set into his bow, and the ninja doing….whatever it is ninjas do when they’re preparing for a fight. It captures the feeling of the game very well, because it gives off the feeling that they’re being cautious because they don’t know anything about the area they’re in, and it gives off the feeling of tension that the characters have that every time they turn a corner they could run into a monster, which is exactly how you feel while playing the game.
Back to the characters, when you assume the girl is saying “stay on guard”, one might then think “why would she say that to the others?” Well if you were to ask me, it’s because they came out of a shrub into a new area, (which is something you do often in the games) and they heard the sounds of a F.O.E wandering nearby. Because of this, they ran behind a nearby tree, and that’s when she told them to “stay on guard”. Because if the F.O.E does end up finding them, they had at least better be prepared to launch the first attack.
By now you’ve realized that since she’s the one giving the orders, this girl is the commander of the group, and you may wonder to yourself why the young girl is the commander rather than the two older male characters. It’s at this point that you can imagine whatever you want that lead up to this event, and then progress the story in your mind from after the point on the box. In my mind I like to think that the girl was a highly skilled commander despite her age, and was thus put in command of the two guys. The guys aren’t happy about this, and when they are sent on their first mission with her, they give her a hard time and don’t listen. However once shit hits the fan and they encounter the F.O.E that lead up to the point on the box, they start listening to her since they’ve got no choice. The F.O.E passes by them, and after that the two guys start to take things more seriously and follow their commander’s orders.
From this one simple image my brain managed to piece together a whole story, and THAT is what a great image can do. A lot of the most famous pieces of art ever created are praised because they tell a story in a single image. If you go by this logic, the cover to Etrian Odyssey is indeed a great piece of art, and not just some random group shot they slapped onto it. Now admittedly I DID have to play a bit of the game to GET that story, so it’s not exactly something you can think of from just looking at it on its own, but in a way, that just makes it even more outstanding. The box art compliments the game, and the game compliments the box art. I’ve never seen any other video game box art that does and says as much as this one, and even without all the stuff I just mentioned, the picture itself is just really cool. With all of these qualities contributing to it, the Etrian Odyssey box art, in my opinion, is the best video game box art ever created.