Best of 2013: Top 10 Game Cases


That’s right, it’s time for another round of aesthetic appreciation of the plastic and cardboard kind. 2013 saw the release of plenty of great games and some stellar box art to boot. This list counts down my ten favourite physical game cases of the year, decided based on factors such as uniqueness, originality and, as always, colour! While there were certainly a whole heap of download-exclusive games to get excited about in 2013 and there will continue to be, the future of the physical game case appears perhaps a little more secure in the short term than some naysayers would have you believe, predominantly due to factors like the obscene sales success of GTA V and the ridiculous download sizes of PS4 and Xbox One games. This makes me rather happy, because I love the art of game case presentation perhaps a little too much.

This list represents my opinion only. I am not asserting any kind of superiority or self-importance by presenting it as I have. My opinion is not fact. If you actually agree with me 100%, that’s scary. Respectful disagreement is welcome.


10. FIFA 14 (“next-gen”)


EA Sports has a reputation of iterating on its annual releases, like FIFA, year after year, changing only a little each time. Even though this is only true of the mega-hit football series if you don’t actually play it yourself, few could have expected that the general experience of playing (and watching) FIFA 14 would improve so much in the transition from PS3 and Xbox 360 to PS4 / Xbox One. To get the message across that the next-gen equivalent of the game might be worth playing even if you already bought the last-gen version, the company made the smart marketing decision to abandon the predominantly white and red design of the last half-dozen years in favour of a darker colour palette, a player close-up rather than an action shot and a new yellow logo. The Madden and NBA Live series followed suit to give the feel of a clean, fresh virtual sporting experience. I’m a big fan of the change.

9. Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition


The cover of the original Injustice: Gods Among Us, released in April this year, was a strong advertisement for the dark and authentic appeal of Ed Boon’s newest DC Comics fighter. Yet the Ulitmate Edition, released more recently, kicks things up a notch with its predominant display of what makes it worth buying over the regular edition – the handful of extra characters – while showcasing what a huge percentage of its audience want to see as soon as they jump into the game: an intense Batman vs Superman fight. I’m especially a fan of the gold banner under the title, which reappears on the side of the case to completely cover the spine and really show the case off when placed on a shelf.

8. Ryse


The prettiest Xbox One launch game also has the prettiest case if you ask me. The highly detailed, hulking figure of ancient Roman protagonist Marius Titus overcomes the short height of the standard Xbox One case to hint at the graphically intensive scale of the game itself. The red of Titus’ helmet plume and undergarments contrasts nicely with the deep green of the Xbox One case and even the Australian R18+ rating is the right colour to gel with the rest of the cover. The other two exclusive retail launch title cases, Dead Rising 3 and Forza Motorsport 5, look very good as well, but Ryse takes the cake.

7. Adventure Time: ETDBIDK


Despite how incredibly disappointing the game actually turned out to be, the case for Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I Don’t Know! absolutely oozes charm and is as appealing as any typical episode of the show visually. The sense of fun and adventure depicted by the winding staircase, ominous purple enemies and determined protagonists is all there, as is that ever-manipulative Princess Bubblegum. The rear of the case continues the authentic feel of the game’s presentation, roping you into the magnetic promise of living out the Adventure Time thrill with three of your friends. Alas, I say. Alas.

6. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance


Just look at that guy. You don’t mess with Raiden, lest he literally tear you to shreds like he appears to have done to the enemy on the game case for Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. That searing orange friction burn complements the glowing determination on the face of the augmented super soldier while ensuring that potential buyers know exactly what to expect from this Metal Gear Solid spin-off (hint: insane action rather than stealth gameplay). I would argue that all you need to do to achieve this effect nowadays is inflate that white Platinum Games logo at the bottom of the front cover so that it fills the whole picture, but I suppose that wouldn’t be quite as marketable.

5. Tearaway


Oh Tearaway, what a breath of fresh air you are, and how your case so wonderfully sums you up! The unique art style of developer Media Molecule’s latest masterpiece is on full display on every inch of Tearaway’s tiny box, with its papercraft aesthetic as gloriously obvious as it could possibly have been. You almost want to reach into the images on the case and fold / unfold them. My favourite thing about Tearaway’s physical presentation, however, is its near-perfect conveyance of the game’s tone. The bright colours on the left of the front cover and the more ominous shades on the left do a great job of previewing the flow of the narrative but it is the triumphant optimism of the messenger protagonist on top of the human finger that really nails what the game does best.



The reviews for Insomniac’s co-op focused, multi-platform shooter were less than generous, but the game case is still a winner if you enjoy colour saturation. The brilliant orange hue works in similar fashion to last year’s Borderlands 2 case, particularly when contrasted with the green of the Xbox 360 casing. It’s a heavenly secondary colour pastiche that isn’t hurt by the oversized game logo and the understated explosion above it. The washed-out white look of the normally more colourful logos in the bottom right corner is just icing on the cake. I dig the hell out of this case.

3. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds


The incredible year that 2013 turned out to be for Nintendo’s 3DS saw some lovely game cases, but none were more eye-catching than that of the latest portable Zelda title. Utilising a predominantly gold colour scheme is nothing new for a Zelda game, but the juxtoposition of shiny and more standard materials on the case insert in order to attain an almost three dimensional look makes the whole thing sing. The composition of the front image is excellent anyway, referencing an iconic part of A Link to the Past with the central Master Sword while simultaneously promoting the most important new gameplay mechanic in A Link Between Worlds via the Link painting on the broken wall.

2. New Super Luigi U


My love of the colour green, particularly lighter shades, and my affection for Nintendo came together to great effect in mid-2013 when the Japanese giant celebrated the so-called “Year of Luigi” with a physical standalone release of its impressive New Super Mario Bros U DLC, complete with a sizeable 30th Anniversary sticker in the top left corner. Looking not unlike a more opaque version of an Xbox 360 case, New Super Luigi U stood out nicely among the standard Wii U ice blue on store shelves and complemented the colour-rich displays of the likes of Pikmin 3, The Wonderful 101 and Zelda Wind Waker HD with verve.

1. The Bureau: XCOM Declassified


It may not be particularly pretty or colourful, but few videogame cases put as much creativity into their overall design as that of The Bureau: XCOM Declassified. It represents one of the rare cases (pardon the pun) where the intended effect could not have been replicated digitally. The case features a slip-on cover marked with black boxes that conveniently obscure every sci-fi or alien element of the box art, making The Bureau look like your standard 1940s noire story until it’s time to open the case. The game itself, by all accounts, wasn’t very good, but in my opinion The Bureau: XCOM Declassified boasted the best physical case of any videogame in 2013.


Honorable Mentions

Batman: Arkham Collection
A simplistic one, but I’m a sucker for the way the Batman logo blends through the three colours (orange, then silver, then blue) and motifs used for the three Arkham games.

Grand Theft Auto cases never fail to deliver, with surprisingly indicative cartoon panel fronts and classy, minimalist backs. The uber-successful fifth main instalment is certainly no exception.

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD
The original Wind Waker case was a typically minimalist golden class act, but the high definition remaster arguably eclipses it with a slightly spoiler-y (the game is ten years old, after all) mosaic of delicious colour and personality.

Fire Emblem: Awakening
The silver-drenched 3DS case of what is quite possibly the best Fire Emblem game yet is incredibly appealing, showcasing a central story conflict on the front and the depths of its award-winning gameplay on the back.

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