There’s a long-running argument to be made for video games and whether or not they should be considered art.

From the 8-bit pixellation of games like Asteroids and Pong to high quality uncanny realism seen in current PS3 and Xbox 360 games, there is something to be said for the style that each generation of video games has created, no matter what the quality of the games themselves.

And it isn’t just in-game that the question of art comes into it, since every game comes with its own boxart design (and the clue is in the name there.) That artwork is designed to draw the player’s eye, inviting them into a fantasy world of power ups, puzzles, and levels, and sometimes they can be the deciding factor in whether one should play the game or not.

In today’s world of high definition graphics, the art on the box is usually exactly what you should expect to see in the game, but it hasn’t always been this way. Back in the days when the industry was still finding its feet, and discovering who gamers typically were, seeing some reflection of the game on the cover clearly wasn’t always going to sell the game well (because of the graphics limitations.)

So game publishers went in another direction, and the results were often bizarre and sometimes downright baffling. Some covers can be deceiving, like Paperboy for the N64: the cover is nice but it’s a plain lie as the game is a horribly cobbled mess of polygons and visuals as stimulating as a child’s crayon drawing.

And then there are games like the ones on this list that are so out of place and so bizarre that the covers are now more memorable than the games – which is probably why you missed them first time out…

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This article was first posted on June 29, 2013