The box art for the original release of Mega Man on the Nintendo Entertainment System in North America is the stuff of legend. Included so frequently on lists of "worst video game box art" that it should receive a lifetime achievement award so something else can have a chance, people often tend to wonder just what Capcom -- and the artist, who was apparently a friend of Capcom USA's president and had about six hours to create the piece -- were thinking.
Or if they'd even seen the game.
Many people seem to still have questions about the many contrasting elements which form the layout for the original game. The appearance of Mega Man himself remains a mystery, but if you're the type who regularly visits a site like this, then maybe you've noticed some of the following:
First, we have this thing of beauty in a surprisingly high quality.
The more obvious element is that the presence of palm trees apparently represents those found in the Ice Man stage, and were even included in the stage's concept art.
Then we have the main focus of the background, the large purple city/castle-like structure, as well as the "radioactive butts" surrounding it and our hero. Knowledgeable fans may recognize the design, however warped it may be:
It's Dr. Wily's robot manufacturing plant, "butts" and all, though the box art's perspective appears to be warped somewhat. You can even see the same spiderweb-like construct on the left side of the right portion of the structure.
What the "butts" are meant to be is anyone's guess -- some sort of hatches for Wily's forces to emerge from the underground, perhaps? -- but you might notice the one to the left of Mega Man himself (his right) looks a bit different.
Perhaps it's meant to be one of these odd spherical towers from Bomb Man's stage, again given an oddly warped perspective?
What's interesting about this use of Wily's plant is that it's different from the version which seemed to be finalized for the Japanese box:
You can see it in the upper-right of the box art. There are similarities, to be sure, but the overall appearance is still a big different.
We know the story of how Mega Man came to wield a pistol for the Mega Man 2 box art, so maybe something similar took place for its predecessor as well. But even with most of these mysteries solved, one yet still remains: Where did all that yellow come from?
In any case, maybe you had some of these figured out, or even all of them, but hopefully some of you might have seen something here you didn't realize before. And if you see anyone else asking "what were they thinking?", you at least have some answers now.
Thanks to Santiago Casale for sending this my way, and allowing me to mirror these pics from his Imgur.