• Hey, guest user. Hope you're enjoying NeoGAF! Have you considered registering for an account? Come join us and add your take to the daily discourse.
  • The Politics forum has been nuked. Please do not bring political discussion to the rest of the site, or you will be removed. Thanks.

Sega/Nintendo of America had terrible taste with graphic design in the early 90's, didn't they?

nkarafo

Member
Nov 30, 2012
16,825
8,700
1,160
As i'm finishing my collection of complete box-art for all systems, i would like to point that out. When it comes to templates for boxes, Sega of America probably didn't even have a proper artist.

Here's a comparison with US vs PAL templates. Left is US and right is PAL:



PAL Mega Drive font/logo looks great. Genesis is just a generic, ugly font. The red stripes are too bright to the eye, the blue PAL background is less obnoxious.




Same goes with Game Gear. Why did they even chose pink? And the font is generic and ugly. PAL Game Gear boxes didn't really follow a template most of the time but when they did, it looked better.




Same for Sega/Mega CD. Ugly font but this time at least used a less obnoxious color for background. Mega CD uses a much better font/logo. And the dark background made it look a bit more "serious" since this was CD tech from the future and all. I'm indifferent about the shape of the boxes.




Once again, bad/generic font and an obnoxiously bright background. Now, i'm not sure about the PAL background either. It looks weird. But at least it's darker and i guess more futuristic. The 32X font/logo looks better.


Now, thankfully, NES and SNES games didn't have such templates for Nintendo of America to ruin. Game Boy templates were the same in both regions and looked great. Game Boy Advance were a bit different but both versions looked good. However, they still made the monstrosity that is the US SNES console shell:




Left is Japan/PAL design, right is the US one.

What were they thinking with this?
 
Last edited:

jufonuk

not tag worthy
Jan 1, 2009
12,585
5,876
1,560
Jim.
Yeah but us in PAL land had 50Hz while you got 60Hz

but PAL has better colour

but yeah tbh the European boxes look better sometimes it was as though they were worried if they deviated from the ‘tude style all the 90’s was about.
I’m sure some NTSC cover art looked bad compared to some PAL and vice versa
 
Last edited:

NeoIkaruGAF

Member
Dec 8, 2019
2,411
4,485
515
Edge. And attitude.

American game boxes haven’t really changed much since then (some PS1/PS2 US covers were true monstrosities), but overall design and especially the color schemes in the early 90s were terrible.
PAL SNES boxes were a little more colorful, at least, but the general box design was kinda the same, only with the border around the image reversed. The cartoonish colors of some PAL boxes were really garish, but the SNES box design was pretty boring.
 
Oct 26, 2018
22,625
31,812
885
Good points.

I never understood Sega's changing from nice black Genesis cases to all those candy cane graphics. And if you need to differentiate between systems, nice solid colours looks best. But wacky colours. Game Gear and 32x with purple and yellow? Yikes.

And whomever designed the North American SNES shell looks like he built the prototype with Lego.
 
Last edited:

Diddy X

Member
Jan 7, 2018
1,528
1,826
440
I doubt they thought americans would like more the US SNES, it was probably just an uglier design.
 

phil_t98

Member
Oct 10, 2014
5,138
5,511
735
Things change, when you look at things like that it’s easy to say it’s terrible but at the time it was cool stood out. With today’s eyes looking back it’s easy to say that was bad.

we will look back in 30 years on today’s consoles and game designs and say how bad they are.

look at Xbox one and PS4 they look bad now looking back just one generation
 

Jeeves

Member
Dec 7, 2008
1,194
1,605
1,180
I think the SNES looks fun and understated at the same time. The two-tone buttons go great with the light gray, plus we got concave X and Y buttons which is a plus to me.

I like the Super Famicom's rounded edges and vibrant look as well, and I think the font they used on it is great.
 
  • Like
Reactions: NeoIkaruGAF

nkarafo

Member
Nov 30, 2012
16,825
8,700
1,160
Early in the Genesis' life their packaging and console design was amazing:


Games




But as you say, it turned ugly for some reason, and the games developed in the US and Europe were also horrible, this is the worst part of it, they didn't only screw up the packaging, they screwed up everything.

I agree about the first part, this early Genesis logo/design/template looks great.

I disagree about western games though, some of the later ones are my favorites. Earthworm Jim 1/2, Aladdin, Comix Zone, Vectorman, Mickey Mania, Sonic 3 & Knuckles (i think it counts as a half western/eastern developed game), Toy Story, Sonic 3D... These are the best Mega Drive/Genesis games IMO.
 
Last edited:

Jeeves

Member
Dec 7, 2008
1,194
1,605
1,180
This is the PAL version for comparison:
Mm-hm, basically the Super Famicom but with the NTSC font. When I was in the market for a SNES Classic I was really weighing whether I wanted the NTSC or PAL one because I think they both look great. But I figured since I'm mostly buying it for nostalgia I may as well go with the one I grew up with.

Oh yeah, and I'd like to shout out the Super Famicom's console box. I've never seen a box for a console even come close to it.
 
Last edited:
Jul 24, 2016
617
201
475
Sometimes OP's in video game forums dismiss or forget (sometimes willfully) the mindset of the average consumer across time frames, as then they would understand the American designs were mostly intentionally and were more effective in their target markets by 8x as much. It's why many of the 90's CD consoles looks like high end digital timer VCR players, modernized laserdisc players, and digital stereo systems/Set top box.
 
  • Thoughtful
Reactions: John Day

VAVA Mk2

Member
Jun 11, 2018
1,699
3,168
510
As i'm finishing my collection of complete box-art for all systems, i would like to point that out. When it comes to templates for boxes, Sega of America probably didn't even have a proper artist.

Here's a comparison with US vs PAL templates. Left is US and right is PAL:



PAL Mega Drive font/logo looks great. Genesis is just a generic, ugly font. The red stripes are too bright to the eye, the blue PAL background is less obnoxious.




Same goes with Game Gear. Why did they even chose pink? And the font is generic and ugly. PAL Game Gear boxes didn't really follow a template most of the time but when they did, it looked better.




Same for Sega/Mega CD. Ugly font but this time at least used a less obnoxious color for background. Mega CD uses a much better font/logo. And the dark background made it look a bit more "serious" since this was CD tech from the future and all. I'm indifferent about the shape of the boxes.




Once again, bad/generic font and an obnoxiously bright background. Now, i'm not sure about the PAL background either. It looks weird. But at least it's darker and i guess more futuristic. The 32X font/logo looks better.


Now, thankfully, NES and SNES games didn't have such templates for Nintendo of America to ruin. Game Boy templates were the same in both regions and looked great. Game Boy Advance were a bit different but both versions looked good. However, they still made the monstrosity that is the US SNES console shell:




Left is Japan/PAL design, right is the US one.

What were they thinking with this?
the dude your opinion GIF
 

TGO

Hype Train conductor. Works harder than it steams.
Sep 5, 2007
12,062
13,866
1,820
UK
Nintendo were trying to appeal to the horrible clothing and art style fads of the time imo.

Funny I'm sure I've seen girls in their early 20's with those exact jeans.
They was funny back then, don't know what the new generation are thinking that a good style trend is something people from the late 90's laughed about.
And the answer is yes your ass does look like Station's in those jeans
 

Zeroing

Member
Sep 19, 2019
1,348
1,828
385
Yes, they are bad. But the 90s graphic design wasn’t that good to begin with! It’s a misture of crazy 80s colors with the attempt of making 3D effect font to make it edgy.

funny because 90s influenced graphic design is back.

the 90s nostalgia.
 
  • Like
Reactions: NeoIkaruGAF

Kokoloko85

Member
Sep 26, 2019
4,272
5,341
485
Agreed. Prefer the UK designs by far, especially the Snes console.
Japanese box is awesome too
 

nkarafo

Member
Nov 30, 2012
16,825
8,700
1,160
On another note, the worst templates were for the Master System. There is no competition. It is the worst.

I think it's the game boxart itself that was the worst thing about those early SMS games.

Otherwise, in later games there was very little empty area to fill with that grid background.



I find it inoffensive tbh. It's just a white background with a black thin grid. It doesn't use any fonts or any of the garish/bright colors the other templates used. It's just... there.
 
Last edited:

wondermega

Member
Jun 27, 2009
3,430
326
1,095
Hollywood, CA
www.headcaseGames.com
One of the things that sold me on the Genesis at the outset was the design - the console, the controller, the name, the cover art and overall theme of the packaging, everything seemed very rock solid and very next-level compared to what had come before. It was such a breath of fresh air and it all felt very high-end. When they started introducing all these different modified configurations... 32X? Sega CD? Sega CD plus 32X? It obviously began to get rather confusing and they had to take some steps to make it "break a chair over your head obnoxious" the differences in what the systems were, lest a consumer buy a game that was incompatible with their setup (which, I strongly suspect, must have happened all the time.. no matter what!) So for that, it is understandable, even forgivable - but personally, I stopped caring what the boxes looked like (never mind had much excitement about displaying my collection on a shelf) once it all started going to uglytown.

As for the SNES, that was a tough one - in my eyes, neither the JPN or the US versions were particularly attractive-looking, although I'll yield that yes the Super Famicom did at least look less ridiculous. I was pretty bummed about the US SNES design compared to, say, the awesome slickness of the Genesis - even the TurboGrafx looked pretty decent - but the SNES was just blocky and goofy. While the predecessor (NES) was pretty blocky and unassuming, it still felt classy and sensible. The SNES looked kind of jarring, but it still wasn't so terrible that I wanted it "out of my sight" (or didn't want to have anything to do with it). The thing was powerful as hell and had all of the Nintendo licensees developing for it, there was no way I was going to be that picky..
 

FeldMonster

Member
Nov 17, 2018
708
697
345
Never had any Sega console other than the Dreamcast, but those PAL box arts are quite boring.

The U.S. Super Nintendo is vastly superior to that generic looking alternative.
 
Dec 12, 2018
2,345
2,967
435
I think it's the game boxart itself that was the worst thing about those early SMS games.

Otherwise, in later games there was very little empty area to fill with that grid background.



I find it inoffensive tbh. It's just a white background with a black thin grid. It doesn't use any fonts or any of the garish/bright colors the other templates used. It's just... there.
I mean, they get certainly points for being creative, but I don't know man. It was maybe even one of the reasons why the Master System didn't take off in the US because having great cover art was much more important back then. Games were sold on looking cool and fun, it needed to catch your attention with the cover art. The Master System template looked kinda goofy and not really out there. It looked like kindergarten drawings. Not really something you would buy for the looks.

The Sonic cover art looks fine, I just feel it would be even better if didn't have the scribbling block background and just the middle part (...but spread out to make full use of the box) instead.
 
  • Like
Reactions: nkarafo

Zog

Banned
Oct 24, 2017
5,117
3,721
460
Left is Japan/PAL design, right is the US one.

What were they thinking with this?
They wanted the Super Famicom to look like the underside of an upright vacuum. I'm with you, what were they thinking?
 

Trimesh

Member
Jun 8, 2019
1,100
1,450
425
I still think that Famicom -> NES has to be the dumbest exercise in console restyling I can think off. Make the unit much larger - but still need an external power brick, and change to an overcomplicated cartridge loading system that used a zero-insertion force connector without any wiping action - an arrangement that any even slightly competent EE would know had no chance of being long-term reliable.

The decision to more than double the physical size of the PC Engine to make the TG-16 was pretty questionable, too.
 
  • Like
Reactions: NeoIkaruGAF

Zog

Banned
Oct 24, 2017
5,117
3,721
460
Fun fact: consoles were always toys.
Fun Fact: They aren't toys. Toys are sold in the toy department, not in the electronics department. TV's and Stereo's are also not toys even if kids can also use them.
 
  • Like
Reactions: nkarafo

Trimesh

Member
Jun 8, 2019
1,100
1,450
425
Fun Fact: They aren't toys. Toys are sold in the toy department, not in the electronics department. TV's and Stereo's are also not toys even if kids can also use them.

So what other word would you use to describe a device that has no purpose other than being played with? "Toy" seems highly accurate to me.
 
  • Like
Reactions: tygertrip