Ah, the SNES. A bastion of amazing video games, great music, and more. But what I really enjoyed from back in ye olde video game days was the weird box art. You could get some crazy variety back then, with only few modern games really branching out into the abstract or bizarre compared to the early days of gaming.
But we aren’t talking about box art. We are talking about box quotes.
What are box quotes? Well, with a lot of Super Nintendo games, the right side was blacked out as part of the box design. Frequently, game publishers would put a small blurb of some sort of quote to convince people to pick up the game or get some hype going. Others would use it to explain game features and others…well, they just seemed to stick something random in there because why not.
Not all games used this. In fact, most games didn’t. Often these quotes didn’t make it to the actual cartridge; they were reserved just for the box themselves. They’re not super noticeable most of the time, and honestly many of them are really bland.
I, however, am a mega-nerd and love this kind of obscure stuff. So I spent a few days digging around on the internet trying to find as many SNES boxes with these “box quotes” on them as possible. And, after compiling a massive image database on my computer, picked through some of the best ones and stuck them up here.
I like to view these as sort of weird time capsules. There wasn’t any standard for how these box quotes were written, companies just did whatever they felt was trending or would sell more copies. It gives an early glimpse into how games were marketed, and the different approaches companies took when they felt a game needed some sort of text on the box to convince people to buy it.
Plus, you know, some of them are really stupid. I like those in particular.
So settle down and get ready for a bunch of images, cause we have a big fat collection of SNES boxes with box quotes up in here. And, as always, if I missed any worth mentioning be sure and link them in the comments!
Let’s start out with one that always makes me chuckle. Phrasing the question this way makes “Tetris Attack” sound like a panic attack or a heart attack or something equally undesirable. Also, how do you “have” a Tetris Attack? Don’t you play Tetris Attack? So many questions, box quote, so little answers.
Unlike Konami, who loved making absurd SNES box quotes, Square’s were fiendishly dull, often just listing off game features that probably should’ve just been on the back of the box. They’re also obsessed with talking about how it has a certain number of save slots (as we’ll see with the next offering) which I find hilarious.
Lastly, a 76 page manual came with every copy of this game. Compare that to today, where you get nothing (except maybe some paper ads or a folded sheet with the Health and Safety Information). Additionally, that manual was in full color and chock full of some great art, tips, and lists of every item, spell, and who knows what else in the game. Different times, man. Different times.
Again with the list of features (and mentioning the battery). Why they used the numerical “3” on this one vs spelling it out as “Four” like in Final Fantasy II is beyond me. They also capitalize the first letter of every word like Jaden Smith’s tweets. Also also, even though this is “entry-level,” Square still thinks we Americans are so dumb we’ll also need a strategy guide to tackle Mystic Quest. Please.
Yet another “Battery-backup” (with the word “Battery” capitalized for some reason) feature on our SNES RPGs. Additionally, it thought to mention that since the prologue is interactive (read: “Battle in the opening story”) it was worth putting on the box. I know for a fact that there were other games that did this before (Wonder Boy 3: The Dragon’s Curse on the Master System comes to mind for some reason), but apparently that’s just as important as a vast RPG world and the fact they put a Battery in the cartridge.
You got that right, Aerobiz. Being the 1% rules. Literally!
While the pun is appreciated, the lack of the Oxford Comma after “action” is really bugging me here. “‘R’ you ready to learn proper grammar for your box quotes? Eats, Shoots, and Leaves is ready for you!”
Editor’s Note: Because people have been getting hung up on this, I feel I need to add it: I’m fully aware the Oxford Comma is optional. That’s part of the joke. Some people like it, others don’t. It’s ok. It’s still grammatically correct on the box without it. Again: it was a joke. Chill.
I dunno, Romance of the Three Kingdoms IV, I’m starting to think maybe we should start seeing other medieval Chinese hardcore tactical strategy RPGs. What we have just isn’t doing it for me.
Thanks goodness it told us it was an accessory for the SNES, or we might have bought it and tried to plug it into our Genesis or something.
Normally I’d criticize the quote for being extremely drab, but instead I think it’s hilarious that they had to put that on the box, probably due to the fact the boxart is a hillbilly playing a banjo. For their space shooter game. Yeah. I love it.
First off, this game is really bad (there was never a volume 2). Second off, their quote isn’t even accurate. Secret of Mana came out a year before this game, and it was an action adventure RPG with multi-player real-time combat. What it did have was potential four-player multiplayer with the multi-tap, which was a cool idea. But going back to point one: the game was bad. Sorry LOTR.
Foregoing any type of box quote that would normally go in the upper right, EA decided to stick an “ENFORCER OF JUSTICE” cartoon badge on their awful Shaq-Fu game box.
I just can’t even deal with this right now. The fact it’s right next to Shaq’s face with its full “constipation” expression while he glows in a divine light just makes this whole thing perfect.
Well slap me silly and call me Donald, BLAZE processing? With characters at “incredible speeds?” You hear that Sega? Interplay has somehow put a new dumb branding processor in their really bad game! Genesis DON’T what NintenDOES, you know what I’m saying?
How “blaze” is better than “blast” is beyond me, but I’m gonna take any buzzwords I can get at this point. Plus even the word BLAZE is going fast in the image, so it is clearly superior.
Nothing says “Troublemaker” like a guy with a hipster mustache and half of his shirt missing for unknown reasons.
Unlike Square, Enix went all in with the majority of their SNES box quotes. This one in particular gives me a chuckle considering it’s not only a giant WARNING, but also because 7th Saga isn’t that great compared to other SNES Enix offerings.
Also, I don’t think “confusion” is something you want to market as your game being. Just…tossing that out there.
Sorry for the bad image quality, but this was the best one I could find. This is a great box quote, mostly because it not only perfectly sums up the game (you free stuff and kill stuff, not necessarily in that order) but it makes you ask questions. What is a Freillian? Why does Deathtoll have to pay? What is a “Deathtoll” anyway, like a satanic toll bridge?
The one SNES Enix game I don’t own has a great box quote. Naming the cartridge size is always classic, and was a common Sega strategy (just look at how many “Mega Power” Master System games touted on their boxes). Aside from that, the box quote is a weirdly accurate summary of how E.V.O. works. Nailed it, Enix.
WOAH WAIT 24 MEGS? That’s TWICE as much as E.V.O.! Suck it, Enix!
You may note the bulk of the comments about this piss-pile of a game has to do with the graphics. I love the copyright on “Ultimatte” and then a trademark on “Cinefusion,” like somebody was going to play this wreck of a game and go, “Holy toleto! Look at this Ultimatte Cinefusion Technology! I just gotta get me some of that for my game!” Also, they’re apparently 3-D rendered, but that wasn’t worth mentioning until the end.
Bonus for the “The Real Game Begins” hidden above the title, which makes me wonder what the not-real game would be.
Ah, a much better Batman game. This one is pretty standard box fluff, but I do think it’s interesting that all the copyrighted words are italicized. Also, the “cinema-sized” shows games trying to be movies by comparing themselves to them, even back in this day.
Yeah, I’m sure a whopping $1 savings to a fanclub that no longer exists is exactly what we want gracing every single box of this game we ship out. Smart!
Both this and the next game get special mention as they decided to do the “put text in the righthand side thing” but missed the memo that you should put it in a black box to make it readable.
Dragon View gets a special exception, though, because this cover is total badassary. Like, look at this guy. Look how pissed off he is. He doesn’t even care that he’s standing directly in front of what must be Smaug’s bigger brother back there. You might say he’s in view of the dragon behind him, and he still don’t care. This dude is more manly than Fabio on the Ironsword cover. Yeah, I said it.
Space Meagforce actually has a pretty rad box art, and the quote isn’t bad either. The problem is they didn’t put it on a black box, so you can’t read half of the darn thing. Faded brown on faded blue? Not gonna work, guys. Please try again next time.
From here on out, I have devoted the rest of this article as a special shrine to Konami. Of all the publishers putting weird text on their boxes, Konami blew them all away. They really got into it, as we shall soon see.
We’ll start slow, with a relatively short box quote considering this is Konami. I will point out that you don’t want to “swap lead” with people, you just want to give it, as “swapping” would imply that I got shot in the process as well.
Wait, so are you saying I can 360 no scope guys in a SUPER NINTENDO GAME? SIGN ME UP!
Also I love how it just doesn’t explain what a Cybernator is, nor why you want hyper-space propulsion. You also get its height and attitude (“take-no-prisoners,” apparently).
Try saying that whole sentence without breathing or pausing (there are no commas or periods, after all). Try it.
Did you pass out? If so, sorry. When you wake up, we’ll continue.
This is some classic Konami box text. Long, descriptive, but still reads like it was written in a boardroom. I also like that we “pump” graphical effects into games now. Like, is that done with a handpump or what?
Another description that doesn’t breath, and has questionable adjective use. Are 3-D graphics actually “shocking?” It’s also weird that they say the specific number of weapons. “Armada of Annihilation” is an awesome name, though. Someone should name their metal band that.
The use of “then” in this seems unnecessary, but other than that this is a pretty decent box quote. It even describes the game, as you pick your ship type at the start and “assemble” your power-ups (a new thing for Gradius) before blasting aliens.
This is the classic Konami box quote essay we know and love (at least it has a comma this time). But what I love most is the end, where it says “a” saber duel with a thousand sultans, which grammatically means it’s a single duel verses a thousand sultans. Also, sultans? Like…the rulers? Have there even been a thousand of them over the entire history of Persia? And why would they fight when they’re like…kings? Someone at Konami needs to get their act together.
This is, hands down, my absolute favorite SNES box quote. First off, it’s an essay. Why they thought anybody would read all that astounds me. Second, the last sentence rhymes, probably unintentionally. But most important: this cover implies that you will actually possibly die by playing the game. Like, somehow playing Castlevania IV will actually, literally kill you, so you should inform you family members, just in case.
I love it.
And that’s a bunch of SNES box covers with weird text quotes on them. Did I miss any good ones? Be sure and post them in the comments!