Welcome back to Box Art Brawl, the series where we throw two or more regional box art variants into a ring and watch them kick seven shades out of each other in a fight for your vote.
Last time we watched Advance Wars: Dual Strike give itself fifteen birthday bumps in a two-way bout between East and West. It appears that the overwhelming majority of you didn’t appreciate the toy town warfare the models on the Japanese cover conveyed, so North America and Europe sailed to a convincing victory with over 85% of the vote.
This week, we thought Switch-owning football fans could do with a pick-me-up following the release of the thoroughly depressing ‘Legacy’ edition of FIFA 21. Yes, for Brawl #64 we’re journeying back to an appropriately 64-bit era when football games on Nintendo consoles weren’t simply ‘good enough’, or even ‘great’ — no, ISS 98 was bloody fantastic. We watched its predecessor in a classic exhibition match back in Brawl #29, but it’s time for the sequel.
Grab your jumpers for goalposts, and let’s kick things off in this highly irregular three-way match.
As you can see above, European countries got one of two covers. In the UK, for example, we had Italian striker Fabrizio Ravanelli having a stare out against Paul Ince. Alternatively, elsewhere German goalie Andy Köpke replaced the Englishman, although instead of eyeballing the Italian he’s looking into the camera with a face that seems to say “Why is it always me?”.
We like the simplicity here — the black and white photo given a splash of colour from the logo at the bottom and the Konami logo running down the left side. It’s subtle and striking all-at-once. Not bad.
The North American cover isn’t short on colour, that’s for sure, although it’s not much more dynamic than the previous game’s NA cover. Konami went with the flamboyant stylings of Colombian star Carlos Valderrama here, and as one of the most recognisable footballers in history, it’s nice to see him, we guess. At 37 by the time the game came out, though, he wasn’t at the top of his game and his presence feels a bit odd.
Our main quibble is that they’ve managed to make a cover featuring Carlos Valderrama (‘International Superstar’, if you weren’t aware) so spectacularly static and boring. It’s quite a feat.
The Japanese version of the game came out earlier and boasted the World Cup France 98 licence. Therefore, in Japan the game featured off-brand Woody Woodpecker ‘Footix’, the competition mascot that year.
There’s not much else to say about this generic cover really — as a licenced product, having the brand and logo front-and-centre must have done the job on store shelves. There’s an awful lot of white here, and you could easily slap this image on any piece of merch. Uninspiring, but functional.
So, you’ve seen the three (well, four) options, but which is best? Pick your favourite and hit ‘Vote’ to let us know:
And the whistle has been blown. We’ll be back for another game next week — until then, have a wonderful one.