Crime Wave Box Art


I go to a lot of garage/rummage sales in search of gaming gems. Frequently, I'll see a box of old PC games that are a buck each and say "I'll give you $5 for the whole box". It was through a transaction like this that I acquired a copy of Crime Wave. It's a N.A.R.C. rip-off for the PC that was released in 1990 by the now defunct Access Software. The game itself was alright for the time. The box art, however, is the worst that was ever made. It's bad on many levels. The covers are comical and the description could win a Bulwer-Lytton award. I can't imagine anyone looking at it and thinking "I want to shell out $50 for this", I feel ripped-off getting it for ~25 cents.  

Roughly three years ago GameSpy did a Top 10 Worst Covers list. Everything on that list was from a console game otherwise I don't see how they could have missed this one. I looked at everything on that list and I don't think they can touch this atrocity.

Yes, I'm aware that the Angry Video Game Nerd did a similar review of an ad for Crime Wave. I posted this in 2006 when he was still the Angry Nintendo Nerd. I highly doubt he's seen this article.

Front Cover

Here's the front cover in all its glory (click on thumbnail for full-size image). There's a lot going on so we need to dissect into manageable chunks of badness.

Crime Wave front cover

First off, we have an extremely lame guy in a pink karate uniform. Oh, and a killer mullet. Since everyone else in the game is apparently armed with automatic weapons it seems that karate guy is in for a bit-o-trouble. The will of the warrior doesn't stand much of a chance against burning hot 9mm rounds traveling a couple hundred miles per hour.

pink karate guy

Next up is a painter carrying one of the aforementioned automatic weapons. I bet he's named "Gus", call it a hunch.

painter guy

Then there's the crazy guy set against a large explosion. He appears to be the "head" bad-guy going out in a blaze of glory ala Scarface. Whatever he's yelling is in some broken mix of English and what he spoke as a young up-and-coming criminal. I imagine his insane rant contains the word "paco" several times.

crazy guy

Front Insert

Front Insert

The front insert (click on thumbnail for full-size image) has descriptions of the major characters.

Crime Wave front insert

The main character is Lucas McCabe, a cop who deals with crime "in his own fashion". I guess they thought a cop who "plays by his own rules" was overdone. How come you never hear about people in any other profession playing by their own rules? I think an urban planner who plays by his own rules is a recipe for fun. Anyway, this picture reminds me of the brief Oakley sunglass craze that went on in the late 80s to early 90s. For some reason these oversized, overpriced, oddly colored spectacles were a must-have item for young males. I've never been one to fall for fickle trends and spending $130 for something I'll lose in a week was no exception. I wish I could say the same about most of my friends. It causes me great intestinal discomfort to recall them going on and on about these butt-ugly glasses.

Lucas McCabe

Brittany Cole is the rebellious daughter of the president. Do we really need a dozen different spellings of "Brittany" by the way? This particular Brittany is a nude-posing-activist-attorney who the Oakley-clad hero is chartered to rescue. Do I detect a love story brewing?

Brittany Cole

The estate of Alfred Hitchcock could not be reached for comment about the last photo on this page.

Back Cover

The back cover (click on thumbnail for full-size image) concludes our all-too-brief visit to the land of Crime Wave. I'm running out of snide remarks for the day so this will be quick.

Crime Wave back cover

"Sleazy low-lifes" have kidnapped Briteny Britteny Britny Brittany, the secret service sure dropped the ball on this one.

Sleazy low-lifes

I don't think the girl on the back cover is the same one pictured in the insert. Of course neither are the same as the one on the front cover. Seriously, which one of these is the one you're supposed to be saving?

Which one?

This is what earns Crime Wave the title of "worst box art ever". It's as though every programmer on the team wanted to make sure their girlfriend appeared on the box. Or in the case of the blonde on the right, their mother. Now that I think about it, I bet karate guy is one of the programmers. Same for the dude with the ether rag.

We'll polish this off with a look at the features. I'm not going to make fun of "breathtaking 256 color" bit because that was pretty much top-notch at the time. The "Motion Graphics" part is fair game though. There was a period in gaming when companies decided that consumers wanted games with grainy motion video. See Night Trap, The Horde, Slam City, Prophecy of the Shadow, Dracula Unleashed, and Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective. None of these were ever a big success and the full-motion video idea has been largely abandoned.