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The Best Video Game Box Art of 2022

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Let’s judge some books by their covers

I don’t have a steady history of creating end-of-the-year Top 10 lists for Destructoid because, well, it’s very rare that I actually play 10 games I’d want to write about and celebrate at the end of the year. Such is the life of a part-time games journalist. Most of my free time is locked up playing through games for review, and I think all my reviews for 2022 averaged out to around a 7, which doesn’t exactly make for an exciting, OMG kind of list.

My actual game of the year, Immortality, has already popped up on several of these things and I don’t think we need yet another writer droning on about its greatness. So I say to hell with actually ranking the games I played last year and instead show the world how shallow I can be by picking the 10 best games based solely on their outward appearance. Inner beauty doesn’t matter here, folks, it’s all about how sexy you are on the outside. And some of these game covers are goddamn gorgeous.

Besides, with more and more buying games digitally these days, we should celebrate the physical box art while we still can.

Nirvana Initiative Box Art

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10. AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative –

AI: The Somnium Files is a series that always seems to be playing the bridesmaid but never the bride. Kotaro Uchikoshi’s follow-ups to his celebrated Zero Escape franchise are some of the best adventure games on the market, with slick production values, whirlwind stories, and excellent voice acting. And yet, when it comes time for GotY time, they always seem to drop off everyone’s radar. It happened in 2019 with the original Somnium Files and it happened again this year with – nirvanA Initiative –. I’ll admit, I chose not to bring it up when we debated the nominees for Destructoid’s yearly awards. Thankfully, I really like what Spike Chunsoft did with the box art for – nirvanA Initiative –, so I’m happy to include it here on my stupid little gimmicky top 10 list.

Ghostwire Tokyo box art

9. Ghostwire Tokyo (Deluxe Edition)

Ghostwire Tokyo had a blink-and-you-miss-it brief bit of relevancy earlier this year when it launched on the PS5. Sadly, Elden Ring basically drank the milkshake of every non-Nintendo published title over the first four or five months of the year. A lot of people swear by the game, though. Me, I haven’t played it, but I do quite like the box art of the deluxe edition of the game. Great use of hues, shadows, and neon glow. Someday I’ll make the time to play this game, but probably only after it’s deeply discounted.

Sparks of Hope physical cover

8. Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope

I love me a good sci-fi box art (or poster art), and in my opinion, nobody did it better this year than Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope. This box art just screams, “An amazing adventure awaits.” It’s just a fun cover all around.

Atari 50 Box Art

7. Atari 50

As a child of the ’80s and ’90s, I tend to latch onto nearly every retro collection from those decades that gets released on modern hardware. Sure, I barely play my copy of The Cowabunga Collection, but just seeing it on my shelf brings back such warm memories that I like having it around. I don’t have any such memories when it comes to Atari. The Atari 2600 burned out just a few years before I came into the world, and as such, I have no nostalgia for the games. I do, however, have a longstanding love of its name and logo.

The Atari brand is somehow both eternally retro and evergreen, the type of logo that is entirely of its era but also one some up-and-coming app developer would sketch out today. Any use of that logo gets me excited, which is why I love the Atari 50 box art. It’s clean, simple, and absolutely stellar. The multi-line font on the 50 is a beautiful touch. I have zero intention of ever buying this game because there are no good Atari titles, but I wouldn’t mind seeing that box art in my collection.

MLB the Show Anime box art

6. MLB The Show 22 (MVP Edition)

It’s not often an annual sports game has a great cover, but then again, it’s not often we see a player as brilliant as Shohei Ohtani. Shotime is arguably the most exciting player in the MLB right now (sorry, Aaron Judge) and an absolute hunk at that. The standard cover for the game is no different than what we’ve seen in years past, but the MVP Edition cover stands out. You might think it’s a bit cliche and predictable to give a Japanese player anime-inspired box art, but I think this looks amazing and I would love to see this kind of creativity moving forward.

Castlevania Best Buy physical cover

5. Castlevania Anniversary Collection (Limited Run Games Best Buy Exclusive)

Okay, now we’re getting into the good shit. I mean, just look at that fucking box art. That’s not video game box art, that’s the cover of a dogeared copy of an early ’80s Dungeons & Dragons handbook. The standard cover from Limited Run Games was a fine recreation of the iconic Castlevania box art, but in my eye this blows it out of the water. And that’s not always something you can expect from the Best Buy copies of Limited Run Games titles. Just look at what they did with the Windjammers 2 cover.

Evil West box art

4. Evil West

I’m going to keep it 100 and admit I didn’t know what Evil West was until I started searching box art for this list. Maybe somebody had mentioned it before, but I probably mixed it up with Hard West and forgot about it. I truly don’t know what this game is about — and given that it’s $60, I likely won’t until it pops up on Game Pass or PS+ — but I do know that I am 100% down with that box art. Just look at that beauty and tell me it’s not some glorious piece of art you’d find on the cover of a SNES title that’s now considered a rare gem.

Nier Automata Switch reverse box art

3. NieR:Automata The End of YoRHa Edition (Reversible Cover)

The Switch port of NieR:Automata The End of YoRHa Edition is an absolute work of art and arguably one of the best ports ever to hit the platform. It also has some of the most beautiful box art of the year. Of course, you have to actually buy the game and flip it over to see it. But like the very best alternative box art, you likely won’t switch back to the original. The lush greens on the front of the alt cover absolutely draw you into this world, while the painted grays of the rear artwork tell a story of their own. Sadly, my cover art got a small tear in it when I switched to the alt cover, and I have the type of personality that will absolutely be driven insane by that minuscule imperfection until my time on this Earth is complete.

Mr Tako physical cover

2. Save me Mr Tako: Definitive Edition (Limited Run Games)

This one might be cheating seeing as Save me Mr Tako: Definitive Edition actually came out last year. However, the physical edition didn’t launch this year. In fact, the game arrived on my doorstep just days before Christmas, barely making the cut for a 2022 release. And that worked out well for me because this is actually the box art that inspired this whole Top 10 concept. I LOVE the artwork on this cover. I think it is some of the most beautiful and enchanting cover art I have ever seen. Just imagine the box art we could have got for Kirby and the Forgotten Land if Nintendo put this kind of effort into designing its packaging.

Card Shark physical cover

1. Card Shark (Special Reserve Games Standard Edition)

Card Shark turned out to be a love-it-or-hate-it type of game, but I think one thing everyone can agree on is how outstanding the artwork is for its physical edition from Special Reserve Games. In fact, I think the box art is so great, it’s the only reason I bought the game. I haven’t even bothered taking it out of the shrink-wrap. I just love looking at that box. I’m sure the game is fine, but this box art: wow. I am in love with this artwork. Get rid of the logos and nameplate and you have a piece of art I’d love to have framed on my wall.

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Kapwani Kiwanga to represent Canada at 60th Venice Biennale

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Kapwani Kiwanga, who grew up in Brantford, Ont., and studied anthropology at McGill University before moving to France for graduate studies in art, is based in Paris.Bertille Chéret/Handout

Kapwani Kiwanga, the Ontario-born artist who lives and works in France, will represent Canada at the 60th Venice Biennale, the National Gallery of Canada announced Thursday.

Kiwanga will create work for the Canada Pavilion in the Biennale’s Giardini park where the international art exhibition opens April 20, 2024. Her participation will be curated by Gaetane Verna, former director of Toronto’s Power Plant and now director the Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio State University.

Kiwanga, who grew up in Brantford, Ont., and studied anthropology at McGill University before moving to France for graduate studies in art, is based in Paris. Born in Hamilton, she is of Tanzanian and Scottish ancestry.

Starting with social and historical research, she uses video, performance, sculpture and especially installation to look at power structures and colonialism. She has created installations that investigate the manipulative elements of prison architecture; in another major series, she has recreated the floral arrangements that can be seen in the 20th-century photographs of independence ceremonies or military parades in African nations.

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In the Giardini, she will be provided with a strong backdrop for her themes: The park features national pavilions for all the traditional colonial powers. The Canada Pavilion, a shell-shaped modernist wood-and-glass structure built in 1958 and renovated in 2018, is a small building sandwiched between the larger German, British and French pavilions.

Kiwanga, who was chosen by a panel of Canadian and U.S. curators assembled by the National Gallery, is already an international star. In 2020, she was awarded the Prix Marcel Duchamp, France’s top art prize, and in 2018 she won Canada’s Sobey Award for an emerging artist.

She has exhibited widely in Europe and, in February, the Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto will unveil the first major survey of her work in Canada. That exhibition will feature five new commissions as part of her research into the politics of botany.

In Venice, the 60th Biennale will continue to Nov. 24, 2024.

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Sussex Drive art gallery showing photo exhibit of the ‘hidden beauty’ of convoy protesters

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A press release from photographer Paul Ozzello and Art + Galerie calls the images “both striking and controversial,”

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A Montreal photographer who says he found “hidden beauty” when he visited last year’s convoy protest in Ottawa is exhibiting his portraits of protesters at a Sussex Drive gallery, coinciding with the occupation’s first anniversary.

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A press release from photographer Paul Ozzello and Art + Galerie calls the images “both striking and controversial,” while inviting viewers to see the exhibit and “engage in thoughtful and respectful dialogue about the issues it raises.”

Jean-Pierre Bex, manager of Art + Galerie, and one of its artists, said in an interview that the exhibit of Ozzello’s photos is not a political gesture.

“We are taking absolutely no political stance on this show whatsoever,” Bex said. The show is entitled “Fringe.”

Bex acknowledged that the occupation “was a polarizing event for sure.” But he contended that Ozzello’s photo have artistic merit. “At the end of the day, they’re really nice pictures, really well presented,” Bex said.

Bex said it was “more of a coincidence” that Ozzello’s exhibit will fall on the anniversary of the occupation. He said he had planned on the exhibit happening sooner, but Ozzello needed more time to prepare his work.

Ozzello said he came to Ottawa soon after the trucks arrived and stayed for two weeks in a motel, drawn to document the event. He returned a few more times until the protesters were forced to leave.

“I search for hidden beauty… that often goes unnoticed, and when I came to Ottawa, I found a similar beauty in the spirit of those Canadian truckers,” said Ozzello in response to emailed questions.

“I know talk of the truckers can be very triggering to some and I hope my less critical viewpoint of the protest isn’t a complete turn-off,” Ozzello said. “This is coming from someone double-jabbed who sewed several thousand masks for my doctor friends at the beginning of the pandemic.

One of Paul Ozzello’s photos that will be on exhibit.
One of Paul Ozzello’s photos that will be on exhibit. Photo by Jean Levac /POSTMEDIA

“There was something romantic to seeing these primal men and women getting together to defy the government and stand up for what they believe, and I wanted to convey this more human side of the truckers,” he continued. “They had this quixotic grunginess that I love to photograph.

“When one of them saw my old Polaroid camera, he asked me to take a photograph of him – then took out a Sharpie and signed the print,” Ozzello said. “And that’s how it all started.”

He said he was apprehensive about meeting people who were violent extremists, but that wasn’t his experience.

“I eventually started talking to many of the truckers and realized that these people really weren’t much different from myself,” Ozzello said.

“These were just ordinary Canadians that were tired of being confined, afraid of what long term side-effects of the vaccine might be, that just wanted to return to a normal life.”

Other photographers and media documenting the convoy were not welcomed as warmly by protesters. Soon after the protest began, the Canadian Association of Journalists drew attention to troubling incidents.

“Journalists have received death threats littered with racist epithets. Others have been spat on and verbally and physically harassed. In another case, the windows of a CBC/Radio-Canada news cruiser were broken,” said a Jan. 28, 2022 press release from the CAJ.

Veteran Ottawa photographer Paul Couvrette, who lives and works in Centretown, said he too visited the convoy protest several times out of curiosity and that he took “thousands” of photos.

“I had at least two or three people threaten me,” Couvrette said. “I did have people tell me, ‘Put the camera away, delete all the pictures.’ I’ve been around enough that that didn’t bother me.”

He added that after his first few visits to the protests, he returned with a large Canadian flag on his backpack and was greeted as an ally. “Suddenly people went, ‘He’s one of us.’ It was an us-and-them thing.”

“I disagree with 99 per cent of what the convoy people wanted,” Couvrette said. But he called Ozzello’s sympathetic portrayal “valid.”

Said Couvrette: “The photographer is going to focus on the human side and there is a human side.”

A collection of Paul Ozzello’s photos that will be on exhibit.
A collection of Paul Ozzello’s photos that will be on exhibit. Photo by Jean Levac /POSTMEDIA

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Free ports are places with the ultra-rich store their art antiquities to avoid tax and duties

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Free ports are warehouses where the 0.01 percent stash their collections of “art, antiquities, wine, gold, jewels, and other priceless artifacts and never pay tax on them,” says Wyatt Cavalier in his newsletter, The WC. One warehouse in Geneva holds more than $10 billion in art, never to be seen by the owners, who would rather avoid paying taxes on their Velazquez than look at it. Similar dragon hoards are in Luxembourg, Monaco, Singapore, Zurich, Beijing, and Delaware.

They exist outside the formal jurisdiction of any country; the clients remain anonymous and the assets are kept a secret.

And though you may have never heard of free ports, they’re a big deal in the art world:

  • 28% of artists and collectors have used a free port;
  • 42% of dealers and brokers say their clients use them.

Why use a free port?

If you buy a $10m painting from a dealer in France and want to bring it to the US (or anywhere else, really), you’ll have to pay import duties as high as $2m – $3m. Storing it in a free port gets around this. For around $1,000 per month, you’ll never pay those import taxes on your van Gogh.

Moreover, when it comes time to sell your piece, you can skip sales tax via the free port’s informal economy. The crate moves from your unit to the buyer’s unit, and the money moves from her Swiss bank account to yours.

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