In the 8- and 16-bit days of gaming, American localization teams were seemingly afraid to let kids in on the dirty secret of most games’ origin at the time (JAPAN! JAPAN! JAPAN! As in “MADE IN!!”). As a consequence, box art was usually changed up so that any personable anime-looking characters were turned into something that resembled good ol’ American superheroes.

We’re not talking about interesting or iconic superheroes, either. These re-drawn characters never had the confidence of Superman, the sleekness of Batman, or the ferocity of Wolverine. Instead, they looked like the potato-muscled dorks you’d see in free public service comics about how “real heroes” tell an adult if Timothy McNamara is kicking in basement windows.

The ’80s most poignant example of “What the hell is even going on?” may be Captain Commando, Capcom’s one-time mascot.

Now, by the time the Cap’n got his game in 1991, he’d cleaned up real nice. He had a respectable haircut, some decent threads, and he hung out with a knife-wielding mummy wearing a backwards baseball cap (now that is the kind of friend your ex-military father would approve of).

But before then, before the ’80s clicked over into the ’90s, he was – well, would you leave this gentleman alone with your children?


My dearest friends. I’ve lived long. I’ve seen Amiga box atrocities. I’ve felt the beady-eyed troll on the Mega Man box whisper darkness into my heart. I’ve offered to trade my soul to understand the secrets of Phalanx‘s box art, but my bargain was rejected because Lucifer himself slowly raised his shoulders and said, “Fffffff…? No clue.”

But that face above? The face of Captain Commando? That is the face of a man who has yet to get over the shock of being pulled from his mother’s womb.

I shouldn’t speak ill of Captain’s mater, because it’s safe to presume she died before she taught her son how to dress, accessorize, and wield a weapon. Please note the double-bling. Please note that he’s dual-wielding a traditional chain gun and a laser gun.

“Am I embroiled in a fight with monsters and aliens,” Captain asks the blackness in his head, “or am I existing upon the filthy battlefields of the Great War? Dearest God, I don’t know. I’d better prepare for both.”

[*a-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-tat* *pew-pew-pew*]

Don’t laugh. Nobody escaped the ’80s unscathed.

Special thanks to friend and fellow writer Chris Hoffman for making the Tweet that inspired this … dialogue.

  • Doctor Doc

    After looking at that cover, I still have a hard time processing the title of the game is not “Confused Space Ape Adventures”.

    • Nadia Oxford

      “I’ll just shoot my targets without looking at them, pew pew pew.”