Written by Paul Monopoli
A lot of sites have covered box art & the problems with international interpretations, specifically Japanese – American ones. I don’t like to point the finger specifically at the US, but some horrible box art has come from that part of the world. That being said all territories are guilty of it. So what’s the problem with the artwork on a box? Well for those who haven’t delved into the disaster that can be box art, let’s have a look.
The first game we’ll have a look at is Ranma 1/2 Hard Battle for the SNES/SFC. There are in fact 3 different versions of the box art, US SNES, PAL SNES & SFC. We’ll be looking at the US SNES & SFC versions, but I will briefly mention the PAL version later. I don’t actually own the PAL box hence the lack of coverage for it.
For those who aren’t familiar with Ranma 1/2, it’s a martial arts comedy about a Japanese boy (Ranma) & his father (Genma) who trained in the cursed training grounds of Jusenkyo in China. Neither of them understand Chinese & are too arrogant to listen to the warnings by their guide when they have a training match around the training ground’s springs. If you fall in a spring you become whatever drowned in that spring when you get doused with cold water. Hot water will put things right, but only till they get splashed with cold again.
Ranma becomes a busty red headed female & his father becomes a panda. Add in other characters who happened across the springs & fell in them (mostly due to Ranma’s actions) & Ranma’s seemingly endless supply of fiances (both for his male & female side) & you have one of the funniest anime/manga series of all time. There’s a lot more to it than that, but if you want to check out more about the anime I suggest you visit www.furinkan.com which covers it nicely.
Here’s some footage from the show:
Akane & Ryoga
Ukyo & Ranma
Ryoga, Mousse, Ranma & Shampoo
Pantyhose Taro, Shampoo, Mousse, Ranma & Ryoga
OK, so that’s a look at some of the characters that feature in the game & the anime so you get a rough idea of how the show looks. How does the Japanese box art look?
Not bad, all the characters look like they do in the series. Sure that shot of Ranma on the front bottom looks a bit out of place compared to the rest of the characters but it’s a good representation of how everyone is supposed to look. On the back of the box…
We have male & female Ranma & a few screens from the game itself. I can honestly say this is some decent cover art. Let’s look at the American box:
… This is one of those “what were they thinking??” moments. So you have what looks like Ranma & Ryoga fighting with Genma in panda form in the background. It looks like they’re fighting at the Jusenkyo springs which doesn’t happen in the manga or anime & of course there’s the mention of “12 Megs of Power”. Something people were obsessed with back in the 90s.
My question is, was there a problem using screens from the anime? Or even some pictures from the manga? There wasn’t in the manual which has a montage of panels from the manga as a background. This boggles the mind. Who actually drew this & did they have any familiarity with the show? I think the answer to that is obvious…
The game came out at a time where Viz were releasing both the Ranma manga & anime. It was the early/mid 90s when anime was taking off in a big way, & Ranma was getting to be quite well known. I’m sure Viz would have been up for some cross promotion. If people like the game they’ll buy the anime/manga & vice versa.
Let’s have a brief look at the PAL release, which as mentioned, I don’t own but found a picture of:
That’s pretty good. Boy type Ranma on the left with a scene from the anime on the right & some characters from the game slotted in. That to me is more than acceptable. If they can do it in Europe, why not in the US?
The ONLY problem I really have with the PAL version is the logo. That’s not the official Ranma 1/2 logo & it’s not very easy to read. Bit of a disaster really. Other than that it’s a more than acceptable box & a good representation of the anime it’s based on.
The PAL version has other issues which I’ll go into when I review it, though that’s more to do with the changes to the game itself…
How about the back of the US box?
Pretty basic, 4 screens, the US Ranma 1/2 logo, & it tells the story of the series. The problem is the caption makes it sound like this game is based off the start of the series which is incorrect. The story centres around Principal Kuno & each character has their own little story in the game. The fact that Principal Kuno was introduced in season 4 of the show proves that this is no introduction story. Also keep in mind this is the second game in the series in Japan.
So that’s the first of our looks at box art disasters. We’ll bring you more in the future so stay tuned.