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Back in the 1980s and ‘90s, it wasn’t unusual for Japanese video games to be released internationally with box art different from that which was used at home. Many overseas publishers worried that the original versions were too cutesy, concluding that the covers needed an extra dose of testosterone in order to appeal to machismo-seeking non-Japanese gamers.

The logic itself is sort of shaky, but what made things worse was how most of the new box art bore little resemblance to the in-game designs, plus rarely looked appealing even when judged solely on its own non-existent merits. While much of this lazily produced art has been fittingly forgotten, there are some things you just can’t unsee. Like discovering a dead pigeon inside your bag of fast food takeout, the North American cover of the very first Mega Man has been burned into the memories of older gamers, and the pudgy sci-fi hero has now made the jump into three-dimensional space with his own figure.

Let’s take a moment and track the twisted path the Blue Bomber took to arrive in this form. Here’s how Mega Man appeared in the graphics of his very first outing on the Famicom, back in 1987.

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His unlined face, cartoonish proportions, and all-blue costume are all accurately depicted on the cover of the Japanese version of the game, called Rockman.

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But the title slapped on the box wasn’t the only thing that was different for the North American release. For some reason, the artist for the new cover saw fit to add large fields of yellow to the hero’s outfit. In-game, Rockman’s arm itself is a cannon, but North American Mega Man packed heat by gripping a good old-fashioned pistol. Most notably, the redone cover art gave the protagonist a much more human-like face, and not one that radiates youthful vigor and vitality, either.

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Oddly enough, many people are quick to call the North American Mega Man fat, but when we put them side-by-side, we can see his physique really isn’t any more rounded than that of the original.

▼ Rockman’s not exactly svelte, but the less stylized look of the North American art somehow makes the character look chunkier (plus sillier).

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Somehow, though, North American Mega Man has beaten the odds and become the poster boy for “so bad it’s good” box art. One fan has even made his own detailed figure honoring the heavyset hero.

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Momoji, a member of Thai toy, video game, and animation internet forum MODxTOY, shared his handiwork on the site recently with a series of snapshots of the figure he’s crafted. As you can see, it lovingly recreates the characters musculature, firearm, and, of course, paunch.

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It’s really kind of ironic to see how North American Mega Man’s standing in the fan community has changed over the last few years. In 2012, Capcom even added him as a playable character to its Street Fighter X Tekken fighting game. It’s that iteration that seems to be the primary inspiration for Momoji’s figure, especially where the facial features are concerned.

▼ One of these Mega Men is not like the others.

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So just what’s caused the reversal of fortune for the design? We’re not sure, but it’s worth noting that Mega Man was released 28 years ago. Many gamers who played the original as kids and laughed at the weirdo on the North American cover are now pushing 40 themselves, and maybe they’re starting to warm up to the design as they begin to see more of themselves in it.

▼ Although those who find the resemblance uncanny may want to consider a few more minutes on the treadmill.

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Source: Inside Games via Jin
Top image: Wikipedia/GameSpot, Inside Games (edited by RocketNews24)
Insert images: Wikia (edited by RocketNews24), Beyond the Gamer, Wikipedia/GameSpot, Inside Games