Welcome to round number 9 of Box Art Brawl, the series where box art variants from different regions go through a rigorous training montage before cracking their knuckles and duking it out under the watchful eyes of you lovely people.
Last week Michael Biehn made a very much uncredited appearance on the three covers of Metal Gear on the NES, but it was the North American version which ultimately terminated the competition, with the Japanese variant going the way of Bill Paxton’s punk early on and Europe taken down not long after like Sarah Connor’s best mate. We honestly thought it was going to be closer, but you never can tell with the crucible that is the bagarre de box art, as they almost certainly call it in Cannes.
Today we welcome our first contenders from the world of portable gaming – a handheld classic which has very recently made a comeback with a shiny new version on Nintendo Switch. You might have heard about it? Yes, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening enters the arena this week in its 1998 ‘DX’ form. Why this one and not the 1993 monochrome original, you ask? Well, the box art for the Game Boy Color version is a little more diverse and Box Art Brawl thrives on diversity!
So, let’s rouse ourselves from slumber, grab a coffee and cast our eyes upon the castaways…
The European edition of Link’s Awakening DX was a classy affair all round. The Zelda title, hewn from some luxurious red stone, sits atop a beaten shield on a darkened marble background. A well-worn, chipped sword is improbably threaded ‘through’ the ‘Z’ and tasteful serifs adorn the capitalised type, with the shining silver of the Game Boy Color strip down the left side reflecting the spectrum of colours in a simple, eye-catching design. It takes a while to spot that this has not one, not two, but three Nintendo logos on the cover.
Similar to the European variant, the NA version more closely resembles the cover for the original game (see below in the bonus section). We get the same lovely sword and shield combo and the same red Zelda logo and text (this time in black) over a golden background. The Game Boy strip sits on the side again, although Nintendo of America managed to restrain itself to just one logo here. We also get the information about the extra colour dungeon in the bottom right corner which appears almost sunk into the gold background. Effective.
The sparse covers in the west were a significant departure from the Japanese version which showed off an arguably goofy-looking Link, Marin and Tarin, plus the owl, with the Wind Fish’s egg in the background against a blue sky. The logo below has Koholint Island built into it with an embossed, golden ‘DX’ stood in front. There’s another grey background behind all that and the Game Boy Color strip runs up the left side of this longer cover.
It’s certainly colourful, but does it all hang together? That’s for you to decide.
And as a little non-poll extra, here’s a look back at the original Game Boy version’s box art. As you can see, both of the western covers are practically identical while the Japanese one is rather nice, if we say so ourselves. We’ve also included a Chinese variant which we like a lot:
There we go! Feel’s like a dream, doesn’t it? But who is the dreamer? Choose your favourite below and click that ‘Vote’ button to let us know:
Assuming you’re not already full to the windy gills with hot Link’s Awakening content, definitely check out our look back at the original from the beginning of the year as we anticipated the remake on Switch. That’s all from the Brawl this week – feel free to share the adventure of your deliberations below and then you can get back to playing the remake. As you were.