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Top Ten manliest retro video game covers

5 min read

There used to be a time, when the worth of your video game was determined by the amount of muscles, ripped shirts and general craziness that an artist could instill into a game cover. A time when an outright lie was forgiven, because even if the game in question resembled the final product in no way whatsoever, people wouldn’t be mad because they’d at least have $40 worth of kickass art on their shelves. Video game covers have changed since then, instilling a sense of “chin down, eyes up” in every single new release. These following ten covers though? Manly enough to not need to resort to that gimmick. HOO HA!

Two Crude Dudes


There’s an unspoken rule for tough guys when the world ends, and that’s that the tougher you are, the tighter your T-shirt has to be. With society gone, only the barest, smoothest and most oiled up pectoral muscles will survive, and ain’t nobody got time for none of those restrictive torso garments! And when you’re as rough and tough as these two cool and crude dudes, the world needs to know that nothing made in China can withstand the might of your flexing manhood.

Barbarian: Ultimate Warrior


You may laugh at his flowing blonde locks, furry man-loin and general lack of pants, but let’s face facts here: None of you will ever be that manly. Fabio would be proud of this video game cover.

Final Fight 2


We’ve all heard the legends of mighty Mike Haggar. He’s the kind of politician that you can trust, because if a mayor can bare his chest open like that, then he has nothing to hide. Nor does he need  a massive multi-million Rand mansion to hide in, because unlike certain heads of state, Mike Haggar cleans he streets of crime all by himself, one superplex at a time, before he calls a press conference to announce that Metro City is safe. Then he puts the podium that he just announced in a Boston half-crab lock, before ripping his short off and crushing the head of that guy who just threw a sweet wrapper on his precious and clean city street.

Vote Mike Haggar!

Ninja Cop


A Ninja Cop doesn’t follow the rules. Ninja Cops don’t die when they’re one week away from retirement. And Ninja Cops are ready to break the rules of gravity, if it gets the job done. Because that’s what a gut feeling is! So when someone tells a ninja cop that he can’t emit a stream of urine powerful enough to send him into the upper stratosphere, Ninja Cop then proceeds to summon enough mystical Ninja Cop might to prove that sucker wrong.

And bank five whole bucks in the process. Who’s stupid now?

Killer Instinct 2

Killer Instinct 2

They said that it was foolish to make a robot sentient. They also said that it was insane to give a robot martial arts skills, electric blue hands of death and a pony-tail. But they were wrong. Dead wrong! Because if you’re going to die, your tombstone might as well read: Killed by the most badass robot since Arnold Schwarzenegger.

War Wolf


When it comes to animals, you don’t get anything tougher and manlier than a wolf. Unless of course, you find a War Wolf! Half Wolf, half War, and 100% go screw your maths, the War Wolf is a beast of ripped abs and machismo that is damn awesome, that it had to have its hands amputated and replaced with claws, less it die from Manabetes Type Kickass.



What is Aaargh! ? I’ll tell you what Aaargh! is! Aaargh! is a video game so damn manly, that it’ll cause a horned blinf humanoid and Godzilla to burst forth from arcade devices, ready to grapple one another in a fight to the death that will leave you with a cool hair-style and the earth in ruins. You knew that this would happen. You knew. And it was totally worth the apocalypse that followed.

Double Dragon 2


You know it’s incredibly sexist when a hero to kids worldwide is found keeping a prostitute on a lead. The thing is, the double dragons are so damn focused on revenge, that they don’t care about being politically correct or the fact that they’ve been holding onto a random lady for the last two weeks, while fighting off ruffians that are armed with jawbreakers and two week old fruit cakes. Because that’s how the double dragons roll. For the love of Mike, someone stop these guys!

Jim Power


Jim Power comes from a world where the sky is the colour of piss, and where problems surrounding giant floating faces in the sky can only be solved by shooting it, and then shooting some more. Jim Power will felx his bicep so hard, you’ll swear that he’s the third Jean Claude Van Damme identitcal twin. Jim Power isn’t a man. Man is a Jim Power. Jim Power can score 180 points with one dart. Jim Power is the favourite colour of Helen Keller.

Donkey Kong


Super Mario. Just uttering those two words makes you think of a portly plumber with a massive stache. But back before Shigeru Miyamoto removed his testicles, Mario was manlier than the new Lamborghini Veneno. And boy, was he pissed off that his number one squeeze had been abducted. Nevermind the fact that he was up against the bastard son of King Kong and a platform level from hell, as Mario channeled his inner Charles Bronson, and he was going to bring a world of hammer down on that damn Gorilla.

Super Street Fighter II Turbo


One of the most insane pieces of box art ever made. Cammie is wearing a thong so far up her ass that it made a city of men explode in the background. Akuma is leering so damn hard, he just reactivated several cromagnon genes, and a tag team of Chun-Li and Blanka have somehow discovered that they possess Iron Man technology where their legs should be.

As for Deejay? He has his rape-face on, but is content to just watch all the madness explode below him. For now…

Last Updated: March 8, 2013


  1. WAR WOLF!!!!!


    • Skyblue

      March 9, 2013 at 05:55

      Missed that when it was released – booting up my arcade/emu pc now


  2. Sir Captain Rincethis

    March 8, 2013 at 15:43

    Is it me, or does War Wolf look like he’s had his arms amputated and replaced with FUCKING IVORY TUSKS! Seis!


  3. Sir Captain Rincethis

    March 8, 2013 at 15:44

    Awesome article Darry, MAN!


  4. Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

    March 8, 2013 at 15:49

    Dude. Epic article. However you did miss one…. Contra


    • Eric Viljoen

      March 8, 2013 at 16:09

      When I read the article title I immediately thought Contra


      • Kobus Nel

        March 12, 2013 at 11:26

        LOL, same here. And Where’s Duke Nukem?


  5. Sir Captain Rincethis

    March 8, 2013 at 16:00

    ‘Akuma is leering so damn hard, he just reactivated several cromagnon genes’ Best line eva!


  6. caponeil

    March 8, 2013 at 16:14

    Still hoping one day I see a screenshot of my favourite arcade game from the 90s. Can’t remember the name but played the crap out of it!!


  7. OVG

    March 8, 2013 at 16:15

    DOUBLE DRAGON FOREVER!!! THE 80s ROCKED. OK it was kind of like DLC :(, JUst with a shit load of coppers.

    Remember how the first level of these games were always easy then the 2nd level raped you. DRAW THEM IN THEN HOOK EM.


    • Sir Captain Rincethis

      March 8, 2013 at 16:26

      I remember always being told I was the guy in blue…


      • OVG

        March 8, 2013 at 16:42

        Becuase blue is for pussies RED BRU LIKE KEN IS FOR WINNERS.


        • Sir Captain Rincethis

          March 8, 2013 at 16:48

          what you on about? Ken’s gee was white BEFORE we fought! BURN!


          • OVG

            March 8, 2013 at 16:56

            HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA CHOOOOOOOO….. Sorry, that was supposed to be a haduken but my bloody nose made me sneeze

          • Banana Jim

            March 8, 2013 at 17:34

            Damnit, next reincarnation session…. I hope I come back as one of your brothers! You guys have the coolest retro gaming stories ever!

          • OVG

            March 8, 2013 at 23:07

            Its the theory of evolution RED vs BLUE.

  8. BeatzByChrisBrown

    March 8, 2013 at 16:30

    “Ninja Cop” This needs a movie licence staring JCVD.


  9. Banana Jim

    March 8, 2013 at 17:36

    Haggar… DROPKICK… SNOR! DAMN!!!!!!!!!!


  10. Tonaz

    March 8, 2013 at 20:49

    Killer instinct :Q_____
    C-c-c-c-combo breaker!!!


  11. Skyblue

    March 9, 2013 at 05:11

    Gryzor – Contra on the C64 – Best Predator rip poster ever


    • Skyblue

      March 9, 2013 at 05:45

      Almost forgot The Vindicator, one of the fuck-hardest games I have ever played and finished and that cover still works today, sorta.


  12. Skyblue

    March 9, 2013 at 10:18

    Barbarian was epic, featured rock solid controls and some of the best game music I’ve ever experienced.


  13. mornelithe

    March 9, 2013 at 14:35

  14. GTO

    March 11, 2013 at 09:05

    While it is newer than these games, it is the true aire to the manly throne


  15. Darth_Clericus_The_Ultimate

    March 11, 2013 at 10:17

    I was away for Thursday and Friday last week and missed this.
    Darryn, this is the best article you have produced. Every comment made me laugh harder than the pics themselves. Well done bro!


    • Major Commodore 64 Darryn B

      March 11, 2013 at 10:54

      Aw schucks, thanks man. #Blushes


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