Interview with box art illustrator shines light on this mystery
If you were asked to list the worst videogame cover art of all time, the gold-and-blue monstrosity that appeared on the original Mega Man's box would appear undoubtedly be mentioned. Nowhere near as bad but still pretty bad is Mega Man 2's cover art, which is a lot more faithful to the source material save for some curious hiccups. Like, why is Mega Man's right ankle broken? Why is Dr. Light trying to kill his own creation? And most importantly, why is Mega Man using a pistol instead of his trusty arm cannon?
Last year, enthusiast collectors site NintendoAge attended the Portland Retro Gaming Expo and posted the above recap video, which featured special guests Greg Pabich from the Cheetahmen archives and Gamemaster Howard Phillips of Nintendo Power fame. Then there was videogame cover illustrator Marc Ericksen, the man responsible for Mega Man 2's US box art. So what does Mr. Ericksen have to say for himself?
As is typical of these kinds of snafus, you can't blame the artist. Ericksen was called into Capcom one day and was shown beta footage of Mega Man 2. He was unfamiliar with who Mega Man was, and the pixelated graphics were just abstract enough that he couldn't tell what the little blue guy was shooting with. The Capcom art director mentioned that he must have a pistol of some sort, because clearly he wasn't using a rifle. "So... a pistol? You want me to do a pistol?" To which the director replies, "Yeah, let's put a pistol in there." Oh, and get the whole thing painted in a day and a half, pretty please.
The 80s games industry, ladies and gentlemen.