Reviewing Through Cover Art

I paid a brief visit to Yin’s Collectibles in the mall today. I like to check in every now and then to see if anything of interest has popped up. More often then not the answer is no, but you never know. When the place first opened I managed to pick up the first two volumes of X-Men: Essentials for a flat ten bucks and I’m a constant fan of Yin’s four dollar DVDs. I love movies and buying them on the cheap makes me very happy.

I also look at their comic book section. I’ve only recently begun reading comic books to any substantial extent and generally speaking I opt for collected volumes over single issues. I like to read plot archs in their entiretey and when it comes to a lot of older comics I am just plain lost as to what to buy. Occasionally though, I pick up one; At a dollar a piece (yay for Yin’s!) it’s hard to go wrong.

When I do this, I tend to pick based on how good the cover art is. If a particular issue strikes me, I’ll pick it up. Back in the day, before the internet, when I was just a young-un trying to decide what game to rent for the weekend I would pick my games in almost in the same manner.

Looking back on this practice, it boggles my mind that it was a major method of choice for me. I rarely purchase games blindly anymore. Every purchase, even my impulsive ones, comes only after having thorougly researched a game’s quality according to a number of sources.

That said, as haphazard a method as it was, I can’t say it never led me to any gems. While I was well acquainted with The Legend of Zelda early on, it’s simple but distinct box art was always enough to draw me back to it, making it a constant rental favorite. The similar simple design of the original Final Fantasy’s art was what drew my attention at that garage sale all those years ago. Even recently, the game’s stellar reputation aside, I picked up the DS port of Chrono Trigger largely because its cover art is good enough to make it stand out amongst the motley of wannabe JRPGs.

The covers of modern games tend to inspire me less than those of yesteryear. A part of this I know is I’ve simply grown up. I don’t see a game with a knight on it and get excited. On the other hand, there’s just the fact that a lot of cover art is rather lackluster nowadays. How many games have come out in the past few years with a cover showing off a close up of a grizzled warrior/space marine/superhero. Maybe they’re staring grimly back at you. Maybe they’re aiming their weapon at some unforeseen foe or looking with a scowl into some unseen distance. Whatever shade of generic they’re being painted with, it too often just feels like something I’ve seen a thousand times before.

Maybe a part of the reason I need to rely on reviews so much is because few publishers put enough effort into their cover art for me to take notice and pique my interest. Maybe I’ll just leave you with a comparison. Final Fantasy vs. Final Fantasy XIII. Which strikes you as more compelling?

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