RetroVision – The Covers of Mega Man Part 3: Europe

In part one we admired the glory that is the Japanese covers for Rockman 1 through 6.  However, next came the descent into madness that us the North American covers, and with them the infamous origins of Bad Box Art Mega Man.  So do the European covers return us to some level of normality?  Well the answer to that is an ambiguous “sometimes”.

Reiterating what I said at the end of part 2, Europe’s covers truly are a mixed back.  They swing from the sublime to the ridiculous, with everything in between.  They’re also not exempt from other controversies, with one cover being notably absent.  So, let’s get on with show, as we introduce you to the third part in out look at the 8-bit covers for one the greatest series in the history of gaming.

Mega Man EU Art
Mega Man

I feel I was little bit harsh on this cover when looking into the origins of Bad Box Art Mega Man.  The original Mega Man cover is a mixed bag, it may not be anywhere near the Japanese cover’s brilliance, but it certainly tries.  It’s also infinitely better than the North American cover, which we all know the less the said about that the better.

Dr. Wily’s castle is there, as is Mega Man with his blaster.  There’s also three of the Robot Masters present in the form of Elec Man, Fire Man, and Guts Man, and even a recognisable Dr. Wily.  So all in all, this one definitely lies somewhere in between the two, and certainly gets an A for effort.

Mega Man 2 EU Cover
I’m supposed to put Mega Man 2 here. But I won’t, as I’m not really sure what game this art is representing.

However, if you thought that the European covers got off to a competent, if not good start, then you’ll be left wondering what the hell they were thinking when they brainstormed this monstrosity.  Take a close look and see if you can work out what’s going on here, because I certainly can’t.  This one is arguably only one notch better than Bad Box Art Mega Man.  It certainly embodies the spirit of it.

Once again insulting the good name of Mega Man 2, we’re left with a great many questions.  So many questions.

  • What is the floating cat-like human head?
  • Why has a once again ageing Mega Man, got a bowling pin for an arm, and why is he dressed in silver?
  • Why is there a cameo from the Krang, in what I think is meant to represent Dr. Wily’s Castle?
  • The Dragon is green in the game! So why is it silver here?
  • Oh and what is the weird red evil shoe thing below the not-so-mega Mega Man?

This really is one of the worst covers you’ll ever see, and deserves a place in the Terrible Box Art Hall of Fame.  How could they go from something that wasn’t that bad, to something this atrocious is anyone’s guess.  However, as you’ll see next, Capcom of Europe managed to stop the descent into madness and deliver something truly excellent.

Mega Man 3 EU Cover
The fantastic European cover art for Mega Man 3

Finally!  Yes, us over in the west were finally given a cover that rivals the great heights of the Japanese Rockman covers.    It’s got Mega Man, Rush, and all of the Robot Masters.  Mega Man and Rush look worried and apprehensive, with this being accurate to Mega Man’s character and the fact that he only fights in defence of the world.  Heck, Proto Man’s even there, and is out of eyesight of Mega Man, hinting at his appearances throughout the game.

It’s even got a sinister looking Dr. Wily overlooking all of the action as though a puppet master.  Quite fitting really.  Let’s just be honest, this cover is excellent, truly capturing the spirit and feel for the series.  Even the logo art is pretty damn good.  So, you must be thinking it only gets better from here eh?  Well, you may be surprised to see what comes next.

Mega Man 4 EU Cover
It may look similar to the American cover, but this is the European Mega Man 4 art.

Nope, I haven’t got this wrong, although you may have a slight case of deja-vu.  Despite Capcom of Europe getting things so right with the third Mega Man cover, unfortunately they decided to take a leaf out of Capcom of America’s book for the fourth entry.  In fact, when I say took a leaf out, I actually mean near enough just used the same cover.

Now if you remember, I said that this cover wasn’t that bad in comparison to America’s earlier renditions, and I stand by that.  Yet, in comparison to Europe’s previous pieces of cover art, this certainly is disappointing.  Yes, they may have made slight changes, such as removing Mega Man’s stupid smirk, and making him look more like his Japanese anime counterpart, and all these do elevate it slightly over its American counterpart.  Yet, this one was slightly disappointing to see after the previous cover.

Mega Man 5 EU Cover
Same deal as before with the European Mega Man 5 cover.

The same applies to the European Mega Man 5 cover, as it did with Mega Man 4.  Things have been brightened up, Mega Man has more of an Anime look, rather than that trigger happy look he has in the American covers, and both Proto Man and Gravity Man have been altered slightly.

Is it better than the American version?  Definitely.  However, once again is it disappointing in comparison to that Mega Man 3 cover?  Certainly.  Although, it won’t be as disappointing as what happened when it came to Mega Man 6.

No cover I here you thinking.  Well don’t worry it’s not because I forgot, or it didn’t load.  Quite simply, there’s no cover because there was no Mega Man 6 in Europe, or Australia and New Zealand thanks to both countries being a part of the PAL region.

Sadly the sixth and final entry in the 8-bit Mega Man series was never released in Europe, primarily due to the waning support for the NES, as everyone moved over to the Super Nintendo.  In fact, the same also applied to the North American market.  However, Nintendo of America themselves acquired the rights to Mega Man 6 in order to publish the game stateside.  In fact, head back over to part two and take a look at the cover, and you’ll notice that Capcom’s logo doesn’t appear anywhere.

Mega Man 6 would eventually see a release on European and Oceanic shores, but this wouldn’t come until 2013.  A whopping 20 years after the game’s initial release.  This release came in the form of 3DS’ Virtual Console, and of course, the game can also be found as a part of the Mega Man Legacy Collection.  However, not wanting to cheat everyone, we do have one final cover from Europe to show you.

Mega Man 2 DE Cover
The German cover for Mega Man 2

So what do we have here?  Well what this is, is redemption.  Unlike in America where the memory of Bad Box Art Mega Man is ever present, Germany actually offers us an alternative to that horrendous art that both America and Europe were given.

Look at that cover.  It may not be amazing, but I’d take this over the American and standard European covers any day.  It actually makes some effort when it comes to representing what is arguably the best entry in the entire series.  Air Man’s stage is clearly visible, and Mega Man is clearly utilising Item 2 as well.  Yeah the dragon may be silver, and Mega Man looks terrified, but I bet you’d take this over any of the other Western options any day of the week.  I certainly would.

So there you have it.  We’ve explored the amazing Japanese covers, the ridiculous work that was presented to America, and the mixed bag that is Europe.  Which do you prefer?  Okay silly question.

However, would it surprise you if I said there’s still one more set of cover art left to look at?  Oh and that this one is arguably the best of them all?  Well you better believe it, as we’re going into the bonus round.  Check back next time for the fourth and final part of our look at the retro Mega Man covers.  You won’t regret it!

Sophia Aubrey Drake

A lifelong gamer with a fanatical love of all things Nintendo and Japan. So much so that she's written a thesis on one and lived in the other. Currently on a quest to catch every last Pokémon. Follow me on twitter via @DivaXChill or @RingsandCoins.

One thought on “RetroVision – The Covers of Mega Man Part 3: Europe

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *