All information on this site is through my own findings and is believed to be correct.  Any corrections, errors or admissions that need to be made, or artists that would like to be involved in BOX=ART, please feel free to contact me.






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BOX=ART is a site dedicated to the history of video game box art/ cover art and the artists responsible for them.

Box arts are profiled from a variety of angles using high quality scans and with the intention of acknowledging the men and women who have played such a major role in shaping our gaming experiences.

Not only for video game enthusiasts, BOX=ART is for all who enjoy quality artwork.

BOX=ART decade

>History - 1985

The simplicity found in the NES’s debut box arts would be deliberate.  The American market had previously fell victim to elaborately designed cover arts that falsely promoted their graphically basic games.  

It would be one of many contributions to the American crash of 1983, and a mistake that Nintendo of America (NOA) would learn from. Box arts for titles such as Super Mario Bros, Duck Hunt and Ice Climber (all 1985), described the games artistry by showing an in-game graphic on the front.  They would also in the left hand corner have a descriptive icon explaining what type of game it was, and in the right hand corner the Nintendo Seal of Quality.  

This badge would proudly (and ingeniously) confirm that the game you held was of the Nintendo quality.  All of this added up to a type of box art that was clear, functional and open to the consumer. It would last up until 1987 and would be one of the final examples of a distinct style of box art being associated with a console.

Outside of NOA’s output the American console scene was still in the doldrums with machines such as the Atari 2600 and Intellivision releasing next to nothing.  It would mean that the box artists who had been with the industry from its earliest days now move on to new pastures, and with them the end of a classic period of box art design.



The middle of the decade would see the American video game industry start to emerge from its post-crash slump with the release of the ground breaking Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).

Notable and influential box arts from around the world in 1985.

Dates shown are the original year the box arts were released.

>Click on the images  to enlarge.

Posted - 20/6/2015 by Adam Gidney

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Related BOX=ART pages.

The Japanese video game industry in 1985 was still riding high with Nintendo’s Famicom ruling large.  Its box arts would, as it had been the previous two years, be aimed at a younger market, and on the whole exploded with colour and childish characterisation.  

Sega, for the release of its latest console the Mark III (Master System) would oddly do away with the more traditional box art designs as seen for its SG-1000 machine, and instead produced Mark III games in red packaging with a clear front showing the game card (which did have a pictured label). It would be a cost saving measure that with the release of actual game cartridges the following year would be dropped.

The Famicom’s Super Mario Bros. saw the iconic plumber depicted as Mario for the first time alongside his fellow Mushroom kingdom citizens.  It would be of lead designer Shigeru Miyamoto’s pen and the only box art to feature Bowser and Peach in their pre-Kotabe characterisations.  The box art’s Mario character would later be used on the western cover art for Super Mario Bros. 2.

The continuing success of UK’s ZX Spectrum in 1985 saw studio support across the wider European Union. One of the most notable was Spanish developer Dinamic Software.  Its first year (1984) would produce little box art interest, but the following and the hiring of famed comic artist Alfonzo Azpiri would distinctly brand the developer’s output over the coming years.  

A number of firsts…

>First wave of Nintendo of America’s NES box arts.

>First depiction of iconic Nintendo characters, Princess Peach, Toad and Bowser (Super Mario Bros. Famicom ver).

>First Sega Mark III (Master System) box arts.

>First box arts by Alfonzo Azpiri.

>First known example of model art being used on a Japanese box art (Xanadu).



By Steinar Lund

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Super Mario Bros.


By Shigeru Miyamoto



By -

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Duck Hunt



Lode Runner


By -

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A View to a Kill


By -

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Mission on Thunderhead


By Jim Talbot

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Super Mario Bros.



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By Alfonzo Azpiri

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Ole, Toro


By -

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Sega Ninja


By -

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Space Invaders


By -

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Ultima IV


By Denis R.Loubet

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Hydlide II


By -

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Winter Games


By -

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Abu Simbel Profanation


By Alfonzo Azpiri

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Frankie Goes to Hollywood


By Bob Wakelin

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By David John Rowe

David John Rowe box art artist page| BOX=ART

David John Rowe artist page

Super Mario series box art page| BOX=ART

Super Mario series page


Temple of Apshai Trilogy


By Ken Macklin

European masters of ‘85

Bob Wakelin box art artist page| BOX=ART

Bob Wakelin

Prolific and fondly remembered artist who produced a dizzying amount of art of Ocean Software.

David John Rowe box art artist page| BOX=ART

David John Rowe

European box art pioneer who worked for Specky studio Quicksilva.

Steinar Lund box art artist page| BOX=ART

Steinar Lund

Highly prolific box art artist who started out at Quicksilva and went on to work for Microprose an many others.

SG-1000 box art page| BOX=ART

SG-1000 series page

NES box art page| BOX=ART

NES series page

Xanadu by Masaki Okumura| 1985| An early Japanese example of box art using models and then photographed.