AVGN Bad Game Cover Art #6 – Phalanx (SNES)

Mike Matei / December 6th, 2015

AVGN has an Advent Calendar of Ass! Step into the art gallery as we examine some of the worst video game cover artwork, each day until Christmas!

Today’s video..

AVGN Bad Game Cover Art #6 Phalanx (SNES)


  • Zces

    December 6, 2015 at 4:11 am

    Love this year Christmas episodes! haha

    • December 7, 2015 at 9:02 am

      Sorry James, so far these videos are not being funny at all. The idea is very good but poorly executed. There is so much babble that puts me to sleep. I think you should just go to the point and say why its bad without forcing it. Simple language would fit much better. I think it would actually work better if not scripted.

      • OMA

        December 8, 2015 at 7:14 pm

        I disagree, these reviews are entertaining and far from poorly executed, plus the language is perfectly fine. And I’m not even a native English speaker. Why do you think this needs “simpler language”? What’s so complicated about it?

  • DeathBlow

    December 6, 2015 at 4:18 am

    Wow, I remember this cover too well for never having played the game.

    • OMA

      December 8, 2015 at 7:23 pm

      Well, I guess that was the idea, to have the cover be memorable. This is from an actual interview with the marketing people behind this crazy cover, from Electronic Gaming Monthly, September 2001:


      Q: What was the deal with that old dude on the cover of the SNES shooter Phalanx?

      A:Phalanx was just another Super NES sidescrolling shooter that we all probably would have forgotten by now – if not for the inexplicable shot of the bearded geezer strummin’ a banjo on the game’s box cover. Why the old guy? The problem is that all the game art looked alike at the time – monsters or spaceships or something,” explains Matt Guss, head of the advertising company behind the Phalanx campaign. “We wanted to create shock value so somone would have to pick the game up. We called it the ‘Heavy Huh?!’ factor.” Art director Keith Campbell says they did the photo shoot themselves, hiring a model for the role of the 80-something hayseed. “I’d used him before as Santa Claus on an album-cover shoot,” Guss adds. “I remember him coming into the studio, and I though the poor guy was gonna die right there on the stage. I think he’d had a stroke earlier – not earlier that day, but in the past . . . We stuck a banjo in his hands, and I think we stuck a spaceship behind his head that he was supposed to be staring at in wonder, sort of a Star Wars-come-to-the-Ozarks kind of thing.” You gotta admit Guss’ cover concept was mighty effective. After all, we’re still talking about the game 10 years after its release. Heavy, huh? If you’re too young to remember this game, don’t worry Kemco’s rereleasing it for the Game Boy Advance”

      • Grandmasterp

        December 10, 2015 at 4:53 pm

        So that’s the reason “Cotton Eye Joe” is on the cover. All this time I thought it was just lazy marketing.

  • AllMightyMasterBaiter

    December 6, 2015 at 4:42 am


  • December 6, 2015 at 5:00 am

    I actually read up on the reason for the banjo player.

    The marketing team feared that with so many shoot’em ups on SNES, players would see Phalanx as a generic game in the genre.
    So they asked this old man (who has taken photos as Santa as well) to pose for the cover art. The random imagery of a banjo player on a snes shoot’em-up was to catch people off and generate interest for the game with the bizarre cover art.
    And you have to give them credit. To this day, people still talk about the cover art.

    • December 6, 2015 at 6:25 pm

      Sheesh.. Kind of a steal lol.. Good thing we have lot of access to videogame reviews and LP nowadays.

    • kirklan worlety

      December 6, 2015 at 10:30 pm

      being a banjo player myself, I can definitely vouch that the dude has no idea what he’s doing with a banjo. His left hand is making nothing similar to even an exotic chord. It would mainly produce deadened tones if plucked. He is also not wearing finger picks on his right hand, and his pinkie/ring finger plant is bad at best…. but hey I could be wrong. I’d say he’s a wicked santa claus though.

  • Schizima

    December 6, 2015 at 5:54 am

    I remember seeing that cover at the video store as I kid and I was like “what the fuck.” But yeah, the marketing worked since I remember it after all those years. If I remember correctly, I beat it and it’s just a gradius-style space shooter with nothing special or noteworthy about it.

    There are a couple space shooters on the SNES that are worth mentioning because they’re particularly well made, but this isn’t one of them. And no, the old man with the banjo has nothing to do with the game. I think, maybe, it’s supposed to imply that the character is “leaving earth” but to be honest who the fuck knows. It was probably some stock image the company had lying around.

  • December 6, 2015 at 7:10 am

    That little jingle you made for the song he may have sung was hilarious.

  • bud

    December 6, 2015 at 8:30 am

    My take on it is that it’s an end of the world type scenario. Remember how on the Titanic, the band never stopped playing? In this case, Earth is doomed and the old man is playing us out with his banjo…

  • Weldin Dunn

    December 6, 2015 at 10:16 am

    I think the old man is there to warn the Earthians about the alien invaders by singing a chant.

    • Hanglyman

      December 6, 2015 at 10:55 pm

      Yep. Random banjo man AND plagiarism.

    • Arc Nova

      December 7, 2015 at 3:55 am

      I’m really glad somebody else noticed this. I don’t think it’s a drawing, either. I think it’s a photo of one of the toys. XD

  • Tanooki suit mario

    December 6, 2015 at 10:30 am

    It’s for the secret river racing level.

  • December 6, 2015 at 11:47 am

    anyone notice the change in lighting? i think it looks a lot better than the previous videos!

  • barlitone

    December 6, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    What am I doin’ here
    “Super Nintendo”
    ‘da fuck is that?

    Unexpected and funny. I probably listened to that 10 times.

    • Michael Archer

      December 8, 2015 at 1:03 pm

      I can’t stop laughing when I hear that part

  • Mike E

    December 6, 2015 at 2:51 pm

    I wonder if they had to specifically change it because the ship on the Japanese/European cover art is pretty phallic?

  • greedo

    December 6, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    I was wondering if you were going to do this game! I was beginning to think you weren’t. Excellent choice, sir! You have great taste in bad art! 🙂

    P.S. It’s pronounced FUH-Lanx!

  • gamelover200

    December 6, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    Don’t forget Snow White and the 7 clever boys: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=UaOAD2C2oVQ

  • December 7, 2015 at 3:21 am

    That is some bad ass cover art.

  • gamelover200

    December 7, 2015 at 8:35 pm

    Someone needs to fire the spaceship designer.

    • gamelover200

      December 11, 2015 at 8:55 pm

      Seriously, a game, for kids, having a phallic spaceship. At least the game doesn’t have a spaceship station that has an opening where the front enters…

  • Kent Gissing

    December 8, 2015 at 6:11 am

    …… why?? … i mean… just ….. WHY? XD .. an old man playin’ a banjo? .. WHYYYYYYYY?? 😀 laughin right now.. to use a by-now probably trademarked expresion .. “WHAT WERE THEY THINKING??” 😀

  • Jay_Oh_Aitch_En

    December 8, 2015 at 11:05 pm

    It would be interesting if next “Season” he did advetnure games. Risk, DnD, Settlers of Catan. And turned it into a LotR, Or GoT, type adventure.

  • Rackvin Solmni

    February 29, 2016 at 12:52 am

    Isn’t that space ship an X-Wing from star wars??!!

    • Rackvin Solmni

      February 29, 2016 at 12:54 am

      R2-D2 and the cockpit and 4 wings, clear as day when you see the close up.

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