Nintendo of America has a long-standing practice of giving its pink puffy protagonist Kirby a set of angry eyebrows whenever he appears on American box art. For the past decade or so, the company has gone out of its way to turn Kirby into an angry, raging foe in the belief that cute, cuddly characters won't sell as well in North America. However, the past few Kirby titles that have made their way out of Japan have gone back on this practice, presenting Kirby as the happy-go-lucky adventurer his fans know him to be. Kirby Super Star Ultra and Kirby's Epic Yarn have both depicted the character with wide-eyed optimism, but apparently anger really does sell more copies as the North American box art for Kirby's next two adventures, Kirby Mass Attack and Kirby's Return To Dreamland, bring back the rage face front and center. IGN has a retrospective of Kirby box art both international and domestic in which the difference is clearly seen.
[R]ounding out our 10 Kirby box art picks, the next Kirby game coming to America in less than two weeks – Kirby Mass Attack. In a way, the differences between its two packages sum up everything we've observed so far about Kirby's boxes – because it's both a shift in style of artwork and in emotion too. Japan's package seems to do a better job at letting you know this is a game featuring 10 Kirby characters under your command at once, giving each of the 10 equal weight in a circular layout. America's gives one of the Kirbies a more focused position, but also better conveys the "Attack" part of the title by showing two enemies getting brutalized in the background.
I understand why Nintendo of America makes these kinds of changes, but I don't necessarily agree with it. Kirby is really not the furious character that his American box art makes him out to be. The Japanese Kirby boxes always strike me as creative and visually pleasing, while the American equivalents look to be assembled from clip art. It's really a shame, but in the end it all comes down to sales projections and business image.