BOX=ART: Retrogamer and modern video game box art history.

BOX=ART

Video game box art and artist history database

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BOX=ART copyright © 2013-2019 Adam Gidney. All rights reserved. Hosted by Dathorn.

About BOX=ART

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 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.


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.

BOX=ART index

 >A

123 A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z



Artist index: Ad - Ay

Publisher index: Av



Adrian Powell.  English box artist in 1991.

Lemmings | Psygnosis | 1991 | Acorn, Amiga, Atari ST, CD32, CD-I, CDTV, Commodore 64, MS DOS, Game Boy, Genesis, Game Gear, Mega Drive, Lynx, NES, Master System, PC-98, Sam Coupe, Super Famicom, Turbo Grafx, ZX Spectrum.

Oh No! More Lemmings | Psygnosis | 1991 | Acorn, Amiga, Atari ST, CD32, MS DOS, Macintosh, Sam Coupe.   








>Box art catalogue

Taking inspiration from animator Gary Timmons’ original character art, Adrian Powell would create a box art that ended up having enormous usage across the globe.  Just about every console, handheld and home computer of the day had a version of Lemmings with Powell’s cover adorning it.

The very English character art would fit the game’s protagonists perfectly and would be the basis for all follow up games, and the lettering is arguably one the 90’s greats.

Lemmings

Published globally by Psygnosis in 1991.

Game Boy ver. pictured.




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>Box art review

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Akihiko Yoshida.  Japanese box artist from 1993-2017.





Braverly Default: Flying Fairy | Square Enix | 2012 | 3DS.

Braverly Default: For the Sequal | Square Enix | 2013 | 3DS.

Braverly Second: End Layer | Square Enix | 2015 | JPN/ NA ver. | 3DS.

Braverly Second: End Layer | Square Enix | 2016 | EU ver. | 3DS.

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age (Limited Edition) | Square Enix | 2017 | PS4. (4)

Final Fantasy XIV Online: A Realm Reborn | Square Enix | 2010 | JPN ver. | PS3, PS4.

Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions | Square Enix | 2007 | Sony PSP.

Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light | Square Enix | 2009 | JPN ver. | Nintendo DS.

Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light | Square Enix | 2010 | EU/ NA ver. | Nintendo DS.

NieR: Automata | Square Enix | 2017 | EU/ NA ver. | PS4, Windows, Xbox ONE.

NieR: Automata | Square Enix | 2017 | JPN ver. | PS4. (2)

Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen | Quest | 1993 | Super Famicom. (1)

Wild Card | Squaresoft | 2001 | WonderSwan. (3)

Tactics Ogre: Let us Cling Together | Square Enix | 2010 | PSP.

Vagrant Story | Squaresoft | 2000 | PS1. (5)

>Box art catalogue

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Vagrant Story (ベイグラントストーリー)

Published by Squaresoft globally in 2000 for the PS1 market.  





>Pictures from left to right - Original box art and full promotional artwork.

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>Box art review

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Akihiro Yamada.  Japanese box artist from 1990-2001.





Ancient Magic - Bazū! Mahō Sekai | Hot B | 1993 | Super Famicom.

Black Rainbow | Hobby Japan | 1990 | PC-98.

Black Rainbow II | Hobby Japan | 1992 | PC-98.

Castlevania: Dracula XX | Konami | 1994 | EU/ JPN ver. | SNES, Super Famicom. (4)

Ex-Lander - Aoki Monshou no Kishidan | Micro Vision | 1993 | PC-98.

Front Mission 3 | Squaresoft | 1999 | PS1.

Might and Magic | NEC Avenue | 1992 | PC Engine. (5)

Might and Magic III: Isles of Terror | Hudson Soft | 1993 | PC Engine. (3)

Milandra | ASCII Corp | 1997 | Super Famciom.

Mystic Arc | Enix Corp | 1995 | Super Famicom. (2)

Mystic Arc: Maboroshi Gekijo | Enix Corp | 1999 | PS1.

RPG Tsukuru 95 | ASCII Corp | 1997 | Windows.

Saiyuki : Journey West | Koei | 1999 | PS1.

Sānguó Qúnxiá Zhuàn | Softworld | 2002 | Windows.

Shinkai Densetsu Meremanoid | XING | 1999 | PS1.

Shippu Mahō Daisakusen: Kingdom Grandprix | Gaga Communications | 1996 | Saturn.

Terra Phantastica | Sega | 1996 | Saturn.

Wizardry I-II | Naxat | 1993 | PC Engine. (1)

Wizardry III-IV | Naxat | 1994 | PC Engine.

Wǔlín Qúnxiá Zhuàn | Softworld | 2001 | Windows.

>Box art catalogue

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Castlevania: Dracula XX (Vampire’s Kiss)

Published by Konami globally in 1994.  

Super Famicom ver. pictured.




Castlevania: Dracula XX would nestle between two distinct periods of the series’ artistic direction. Before, Konami had the Belmonts as brawling and anglicised, and their box art’s reminiscing 1980’s action movie posters (Castlevania/ II/ III, Super Castlevania IV, Castlevania X68000 and the Game Boy series).  After, saw Ayami Kojima’s delicate, effeminate and fine art take on horror, starting with Castlevania: The Symphony of the Night. Akihiro Yamada artwork would bridge these two periods with his unique style of heavy inking combined with pastel tones, retaining the muscle-bound hero but giving the cover art a more distinct Japanese-anime look.

Dracula XX would see an international release in the form of Castlevania: Vampire’s Kiss and with artwork intact, (the EU and NA box arts being the most sought after in the series) but unfortunately due to the SNES’s landscape box dimensions much of Akihiro’s portrait original would be cropped.

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>Box art review

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Akiman (Akira Yasuda).  Japanese box artist from 1985-2006.





>Box art catalogue

1942 | Capcom | 1986 | MSX, NES.

Captain Commando | Capcom | 1995 | JPN ver. | PS1, Super Famicom.

Final Fight | Capcom | 1992 | Sega CD, X68000. (6)

Forgotten Worlds | Capcom | 1989 | Genesis, Mega Drive. (1)

Kidou Senshi Gundam: Giren no Yabou - Axis no Kyoui V | Bandai | 2009 | PS2, Sony PSP.

Magic Sword | Capcom | 1992 | JPN ver. | Super Famicom.

Marvel Super Heroes | Capcom | 1997 | JPN ver. | PS1, Saturn.

Mystery Dungeon Shrien the Wanderer | Sega | 2006 | JPN ver. | Nintendo DS. (3)

Side Arms Hyper Dyne | Go! Media Holdings | 1988 | Amiga, PC Engine, ZX Spectrum.

Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness | Square Enix | 2016 | PS4. (5)

Street Fighter II | Capcom | 1991 | JPN ver. | Super Famicom. (4)

Street Fighter III 3rd Strike: Fight for the Future (Limited Edition) | Capcom | 2004 | PS2.

Super Street Fighter II | Capcom | 1994 | JPN ver. | X68000.

X-Men: Children of the Atom | Capcom | 1995 | JPN ver. | Saturn. (2)

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>Box art review

Street Fighter II (ストリートファイターⅡ)

Published by Capcom in 1992 for the Super Famicom market.




The debut Street Fighter II series box art. Designed by lead designer Akira “Akiman” Yasuda who would also be responsible for the in-game character art.

The box art was the same used for the previous years arcade promotional artwork, and was exclusive to Japan and the Super Famicom - much to the annoyance of some at Capcom of America who believed Akiman’s character art would have resonated with North American’s.

Akiman’s characterisation would be the basis for all other iterations of the ‘World Warriors’ over the coming years.

The artist would reminise in Capcom Illustrations: GAMEST MooK Vol.17 the following, “I began painting this over my New Year’s vacation in my rural hometown (Hokkaido!). For some reason, I couldn’t find much time to work on it at our offices. My overall concept for this poster was “Street Fighter: THE ULTIMATE EDITION!” When the designers started creating the characters for Street Fighter II, I had a presentiment that this was going to be an amazing game; I wanted my poster to live up to the same quality, and I was very enthusiastic about it. So enthusiastic I put that planet in the background! I find it kind of charming.”


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Final Fight (ファイナルファイト)

First published by Capcom in 1992 for the Japanese X68000 market.  

X68000 ver. pictured.




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Originally this piece was the promotional artwork for the 1989 arcade game.

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Akira Komeda.  Japanese box artist from 1985-1996.





Burai Gekan - Kanketsu Hen | Riverhill Soft | 1990 | FM-Towns, MSX, PC-98.

Casablanca: Ni ai o Satsujin-sha wa jikū o Koete | Thinking Rabbit | 1986 | FM-7, PC-88, PC-98, X-1. (3)

Dōkeshi Satsujin Jiken | Thinking Rabbit | 1985 | PC-98, X68000.

Dōkeshi Satsujin Jiken | Riverhill Soft | 1997 | PS1, Saturn.

Getsu Fūma Den | Konami | 1987 | Famicom.

Illvanian no Shiro : Ruins of Illvanian | Nippon Clary Business | 1994 | Super Famicom.

Jack Las Vegas Renzoku Satsujin | Takeru | 1988 | PC-88.

Jikū Yūden Debias | Namco | 1987 | Famicom.

Kogane no Rashinban | Thinking Rabbit | 1990 | PC-98.

Kohakushoku no Yuigon | Thinking Rabbit| 1996 | Windows.

Madeleine: Naki ōjo no Tame no Pavane | Thinking Rabbit | 1987 | PC-88, X-1.

Man I Love, The | Thinking Rabbit | 1987 | PC-88.

Might and Magic Book II | Elite Systems Ltd. | 1993 | Super Famicom. (1)

Phantasie III: The Wrath of Nikademus | Starcraft Inc | 1988 | JPN ver. | PC-88, PC-98, X-1, X68000. (2)

Princess Minerva | Riverhill Soft | 1992 | PC-98. (4)

Rogue Alliance | Starcraft Inc | 1989 | MSX, PC-88, PC-98, Sharp X1, X68000.

>Box art catalogue

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Akira Nishimura.  Japanese box artist in 1988.

Gradius II | Konami | 1988 | Famicom, PC Engine, Sony PSP, X68000. (1)





>Box art catalogue

Gradius II: GOFER no Yabō (グラディウスII GOFERの野望)

First published by Konami in 1988 for the Japanese market.

X68000 ver. pictured.



>Box art review

Gradius II is at present Nishimura’s only known box art. It’s vibrant use of colour would be a profound statement after the cooler shades found on the original Gradius cover. The art design is based upon the opening level.

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Akira Toriyama.  Japanese box artist from 1986-2017.

Boy.







>Artist profile

The highly revered mangaka started his box art career bringing his mega hit manga Dragon Ball to the Famicom in 1986.  From a purely video game perspective through, it was his debut cover art Dragon Quest (also 1986) that bought the illustrator a new legion of Japanese fans and began a art legacy that is still going strong today. He has gone on to be character designer for Enix’s epic RPG series for pretty much every iteration - main series and spin offs over the past three decades.

Outside of Dragon Quest the artist had a high profile collaboration with Microsoft and it’s Blue Dragon series (2006-2010) and Square with Chrono Trigger (1995).

Akira’s style of art is instantly recognisable. Early covers are simple in design with chibi characters looking rather goofy and in positions that seem out of place for them.  They are often accompanied with towering beasts (dragons usually) that although fierce are somewhat comedic.

Later covers, around the PS1 era onwards, characters take on a slightly more mature look and are drawn with greater detail and shading.   



>Box art catalogue

Blue Dragon | Microsoft | 2006 | EU/ JPN ver. | Xbox 360. (7)

Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow | D3Publisher of America | 2010.

Blue Dragon Plus | Ignition Entertainment | 2009.

Chrono Trigger | Square | 1995 | EU/ JPN ver. | Nintendo DS, PS1, Super Famicom.

Chrono Trigger | Squaresoft | 1995 | NA ver. | Nintendo DS, SNES. (1)

Dragon Ball: Mystery of Shenron | Bandai Co | 1986 | Famicom, NES. (2)

Dragon Ball 3: Gokūden | Bandai Co | 1989 | Famicom.

Dragon Ball 3: Gokūden | Bandai Co | 2003 | WonderSwan Color.

Dragon Quest | Enix Corp | 1986 | JPN ver. | Famicom. (6)

Dragon Quest: Shōnen Yangus to Fushigi no Dungeon | Square Enix | 2006 | PS2.

Dragon Quest I & II | Enix Corp | 1993 | JPN ver. | Super Famicom.

Dragon Quest I & II | Enix Corp | 1999 | Game Boy Color.

Dragon Quest II | Enix Corp | 1987 | JPN ver. | Famicom.

Dragon Quest III | Enix Corp | 1988 | JPN ver. | Famicom.

Dragon Quest III | Enix Corp | 2000  | Game Boy Color.

Dragon Quest IV | Enix Corp | 1990 | JPN ver. | Famicom.

Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen | Square Enix | 2007 | Nintendo DS.

Dragon Quest IV: Michibikareshi Monotachi | Enix Corp | 1999 | PS1.

Dragon Quest V: Tenku no Hanayome | Enix Corp | 1992 | JPN ver. | Super Famicom. (3)

Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride | Square Enix | 2004 | PS2.

Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride | Square Enix | 2008 | JPN ver. | Nintendo DS.

Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride | Square Enix | 2009 | NA  ver. | Nintendo DS.

Dragon Quest VI: Maboroashi no Daichi | Enix Corp | 1995 | Super Famicom.

Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation | Square Enix | 2010 | Nintendo DS.

Dragon Quest VII | Enix Corp | 2000 | PS1.

Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King | Square Enix | 2004 | PS2. (8)

Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Sky | Square Enix | 2009 | JPN ver. | Nintendo DS.

Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Sky | Nintendo | 2010 | EU/ NA ver. | Nintendo DS.

Dragon Quest X: Awakening of the Five Tribes – ver. 1 | Square Enix | 2012 | Nintendo Wii, PS4, Windows.

Dragon Quest X: Awakening of the Five Tribes – ver. 2 | Square Enix | 2013 | Nintendo Wii, PS4, Windows.

Dragon Quest X: Awakening of the Five Tribes – ver. 3 | Square Enix | 2015 | Nintendo Wii, PS4, Windows.

Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age | Square Enix | 2017 | PS4.

Dragon Quest Builders | Square Enix | 2016 | EU/ JPN ver. | Nintendo Switch, PS3, PS4, PS Vita. (4)

Dragon Quest Characters: Torneko no Daibōken 3 – Fushigi no Dungeon | Enix | 2002 | Game Boy Advance.

Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime | Square Enix | 2006 | Nintendo DS.

Dragon Quest Monsters | Enix Corp | 1998 | JPN ver. | Game Boy Color.

Dragon Quest Monsters: Caravan Heart | Enix Corp | 2003 | Game Boy Advance.

Dragon Quest Monsters: Terry no Wonderland 3D | Square Enix | 2012 | 3DS.

Dragon Quest Monsters 2: Cobi’s Journey | Enix | 2001 | NA ver. | Game Boy Color. (9)

Dragon Quest Monsters 2: Iru's Adventure | Enix | JPN ver. | Game Boy Color.

Dragon Quest Monsters 2: Iru and Luca's Marvelous Mysterious Key | Square Enix | 2001 | Game Boy Color.

Dragon Quest Monsters 2: Ruka's Journey | Enix | 2001 | JPN ver. | Game Boy Color.

Dragon Quest Monsters 2: Tara’s Adventure | Enix | 2001 | NA ver. | Game Boy Color.

Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker | Square Enix | 2006 | Nintendo DS.

Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 | Square Enix | 2010 | Nintendo DS.

Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 3 | Square Enix | 2016 | 3DS.

Dragon Quest Swords: The Masked Queen and the Tower of Mirrors | Square Enix | 2008 | Nintendo Wii.

Tobal No. 1 | Square | 1996 | JPN ver. | PS1. (5)

Torneko no Daiboken: Fushigi no Dungeon | Chunsoft | 1993 | Super Famicom.

World of Dragon Warrior: Torneko – The Last Hope | Enix Corp | 2001 | Game Boy Advance.


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Akira Watanabe.  Japanese box artist from 1986-2001.





Bahamut Lagoon | Squaresoft | 1996 | Super Famicom. (1)

Base Loaded 3 | Jaleco Ltd | 1990 | JPN ver. | Famicom.

Battle Unit Zeoth | Jaleco Ltd | 1990 | Game Boy.

Buggy Run | Sega Enterprise Ltd. | 1993 | Master System.

F-1 Live Information | Sega Enterprise Ltd. | 1995 | Saturn.

Gale Racer | Sega Enterprise Ltd. | 1991 | Saturn.

OutRun | Sega Enterprise Ltd. | 1987 | Game Gear (EU, NA ver), Genesis, Mega Drive (EU ver), MSX (JPN ver), Sega Mark III.

OutRun | Sega Enterprise Ltd. | 1990 | JPN ver. | Game Gear, Mega Drive, PC Engine, Saturn.

OutRun 2019 | Sega Enterprise Ltd. | 1993 | JPN ver. | Mega Drive.

OutRunners | Sega Enterprise Ltd. | 1993 | JPN ver. | Mega Drive.

Pengo | Sega Enterprise Ltd. | 1990.

Pro Yakyū GG League | Sega Enterprise Ltd. | 1991 | Mega CD. (3)

Project F: F1 Team Simulation | Shin Nihon Laser Soft Co. Ltd | 1991 | Saturn. (5)

Sonic the Hedgehog | Sega Enterprise Ltd. | 1991 | EU/ JPN ver. | Game Gear, Master System, Mega Drive. (4)

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 | Sega Enterprise Ltd. | 1992 | JPN ver.

Super E.D.F. | Jaleco Ltd | 1991 | JPN ver. | Super Famicom.

Taisen Mahjong Hao-Pai | Sega Enterprise Ltd. | 1990.

Touge Max 2 | Atlus | 1998.

Touge 3  | Atlus | 2001.

Turbo OutRun | Sega Enterprise Ltd. | 1992 | EU/ JPN ver. | Mega Drive. (2)

>Box art catalogue

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Sonic the Hedgehog (ソニック・ザ・ヘッジホッグ)

First published by Sega in 1991. For the Japanese and European markets.

JPN Mega Drive ver. pictured.



Akira would take Sonic character designer Naoto Ohima’s sketches and produce one of Japan’s iconic box art designs of the 1990’s. Sonic would take clues from American characters such as Mickey Mouse, whilst the background’s pop art look would fit within the period’s popular culture, apping the likes of MTV’s graphic design.

The JPN Game Gear cover would reuse Akira’s character art, as did Europe’s Mega Drive and Master System box arts. Europe also has the distinction of enjoying Akira’s character art before native Japan got the chance to, with the EU Mega Drive version releasing a month before Japan’s  - a rather unusual situation.

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>Box art review

Akira Yasuda - see Akiman.

Alan Batson.  English box artist from 1992-1994.

Hero Quest II: Legacy of Sorasil | Gremlin Graphics | 1994 | Amiga, CD32.

Litil Divil | Gremlin Graphics | 1993 | with Steven McKevitt | CD32, CD-i, MS-DOS.

Zool: Ninja of the “Nth” Dimention | Gremlin Graphics | 1992 | Amiga, MS DOS. (1)

Zool: Ninja of the “Nth” Dimention | GameTek | 1993 | NA ver. | Game Boy, Game Gear, Genesis, SNES.

Zool: Ninja of the “Nth” Dimention | Gremlin Graphics | 1993 | CD32.

Zool: Ninja of the “Nth” Dimention | Gremlin Graphics | 1993 | EU ver. | Acorn, Amiga, Atari ST, Game Boy, Game Gear, Master System, Mega Drive, MS-DOS, SNES. (2)

Zool 2 | Gremlin Graphics | 1993 | Amiga, CD32, Jaguar, MS-DOS.





>Box art catalogue

Zool: Ninja of the "Nth" Dimension  

First published by Gremlin Graphics in 1992 for the European market.

MS-DOS ver. pictured.



>Box art review

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As with many gaming characters designed from the 8-bit generation to the 16-bit generation (1983-1996) they were first imagined as an in-game sprite, taking into account the host machines sprite size and colour pallette limitations (in Zool’s case a sprite size of 48x48 pixels and 16 colours). Once determined what would be possible a more detailed character art could then be designed.  

Zool’s character art would be deliberately simple so easy to animate, with designer Adrian Carless visulising a bodyshape of two basic geometrical spheroids with a few sticks - much like Hudson’s Bomberman character. But it was Zool’s large eyes that set the ninja-alien apart from his comtemporaries. They were overly large so the player could see his determined look. Zool’s colouring was also deliberate. Black - like a ninja; green - like an alien and so at speed the character didn’t turn into a black mass; red to help track his limbs and yellow so his eyes were the standout feature.

The final designs were then turned over to artist Alan Batson who would be responsible for the games promotional art.

The Amiga version of  Zool is the original cover with the majority of ports receiving a alternative box art.

>Pictures from left to right - original cover and alternative box art.


Andrew H. Denton.  North American box artist in 1995.

Alien vs. Predator | Atari | 1995 | Jaguar. (1)





>Box art catalogue

>Box art profile

Alien vs. Predator

North American artwork. Published by Atari Corp. in 1995 for the European and North American Jaguar markets.




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“These images were created in 3D software akin to what created Jurasic Park and Toy Story, a mixture of design, painting and sculpture. First I create a wireframe of the object in Lightwave Modeler, then i place it in a virtual stage with other props in lightwave layout, add textures, lighting and animation sequences to get the final output” - via www.dal.net/ahd/select.html

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Andy Park.  North American box artist from 2006-2010.

God of War: Chains of Olympus | Sony | 2006 | JPN/ NA ver. | Sony PSP. (1)

God of War, The Trilogy | Sony | 2010 | PS3.




>Box art catalogue

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Directory: A

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Anthony Macbain. North American box artist from 2008-2018.





Anthony Macbain is an Art Director, Illustrator and Concept Artist who specializes in Visual Development.

Over ten years of experience in the video game/entertainment industry at Rockstar Games. As Director and Artist, Macbain created the iconic artwork for Grand Theft Auto V, one of the biggest selling pieces of entertainment media in history. He led the art team in defining the key marketing art for numerous game franchises and created character concept designs for player avatars as well as animated cartoons.

Most recently Anthony Macbain has partnered with Triton City Entertainment, LLC as Director of Illustration and Lead Concept Artist, building worlds in the genres of sci-fi/fantasy and animation that is specifically designed to be developed for original TV and feature film franchises. Via http://www.anthonymacbain.com/info.

>Artist profile

Bully: Scholarship Edition | Rockstar Games | 2008 | Nintendo Wii, Windows, Xbox 360.

Grand Theft Auto V | Rockstar Games | 2013 | with Roxie Viscarra & Colin Synder (logo) | PS3, PS4, Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One.

Max Payne 3 | Rockstar Games | 2012 | with Colin Synder (logo) | Macintosh, PS3, Windows, Xbox 360. (2)

Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare | Rockstar Games | 2010 | PS3, Xbox 360. (1)

Red Dead Redemption II | Rockstar Games | 2018 | with Roxie Viscarra | PS4, Xbox One.



>Box art catalogue

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Art Nichols & Bob Layton.  North American box artists in 1990.

F-Zero | Nintendo | 1990 | JPN ver. | Super Famicom. (1)





>Box art catalogue

>Box art review

F-Zero (エフゼロ) by Art Nichols (pencils) & Bob Layton (inks).

Published by Nintendo in 1990 for the Japanese Super Famicom market.  




Off the back of the licened Nintendo of America comics that Art and Bob had produced under VALIANT in the early 90’s, they’d be picked by Nintendo of Japan to design launch title F-Zero’s cover.  It would be quite the feat being picked to do this when taken into account the proud attitude Japan has always had of it’s own comic industry.

Along with writer Jim shooter the trio would additionally produce the pack-in comic book.  The complete package would add a surprising amount of western influence for such a high profile game, but more surprising is that Art and Bob’s cover art was never used outside of Japan where it would have been at home, and instead was replaced with a duller air-brushed effort.

>Pictured from left to right - original box art, pack-in comic panel and western cover art.    

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Avalon Hill Game Company, The.  Publisher from 1980-1998.


5th Fleet | 1994 | by Kurt Miller | MS-DOS. (6)

Achtung Spitfire | 1997 | by Tyson C. Milbert | Macintosh | Windows.

B-1 Nuclear Bomber | 1980 | by Bob Haynes | Apple II, Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64, TRS-80. (4)

Beast War | 1984 | by Jim Talbot | Apple II.

Controller | 1982 | by Stephanie M. B. Czech | Apple II, Atari 8-bit.

Galaxy | 1981 | by Charles Kibler | Apple II, Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64, Commodore PET/CBM, FM-7, MS-DOS, TI-99/4A, TRS-80.

Gulf Strike | 1984 | by Jim Talbot | Apple II, Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64, MS-DOS. (9)

Jupiter mission 1999 | 1984 | by Jim Talbot | Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64. (3)

Legionnaire | 1982 | by Stephanie M. B. Czech | Apple II, Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64, Commodore PET. (10)

Lords of Karma | 1980 | Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64, Commodore PET, TRS-80. (2)

Midway Campaign | 1980 | by Bob Haynes | Apple II, Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64, Commodore PET/CBM, FM-7, MS-DOS, TRS-80, TRS-80 CoCo, VIC-20.

Mission on Thunderhead | 1985 | by Jim Talbot | Apple II, Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64, (1)

Operation Crusader | 1994 | Marc William Ericksen | Macintosh, MS-DOS.

Spitfire ‘40 | 1986 | by George Pharrish | Atari 8-bit, Atari ST, Commodore 64. (8)

Tanktics | 1981 | by Charles Kibler | Apple II, Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64, TRS-80. (5)

Telengard | 1982 | by Greg Theakston | Apple II, Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64, Commodore PET, TRS-80. (7)

Tsushima | 1985 | by Jim Talbot | Apple II, Commodore 64.










With the success of the Atari VCS and the growing trend for home computers running game software, The Avalon Hill Game Company (AH) established in the late 70’s its own video game subsidiary Microcomputer Games Inc. to bring its popular board games to the screen. The aforementioned game’s box arts by artist Bob Haynes - who would start AH’s long running tradition of using its board game artists as video game box designers - would brand early games with a distinct use of quad tonal colour and a striped band separating the illustrated action (see, Nukewar, North Atlantic Convoy Raider, B-1 Nuclear Bomber and Midway Campaign. All 1980).  

Bob’s credit is likely for the box art’s graphic design over illustrator as one example, Midway Campaign, has R. MacGowan, famed board game artist, signed under the pictured cruiser. But it would be Haynes’ creativity that distinguished AH’s new video game line in an abstract and memorable way.

The year 1981 saw AH produce more action-orientated titles such as Shootout at the OK galaxy and Voyager 1: Sabotage of the Robot Ship. Their box arts had a deliberate arcade look to them and would be an example of how charmingly crude and simplistic cover arts from this period could be (see Space Station Zulu 1982, Guns of Fort Defiance, 1981 and Bomber Attack, 1982). It would also be the year historical illustrator and board game layout specialist Charles Kibler would join AH and support Bob in box art duties with titles such as Tanktics (1981), Galaxy (1981) and Andromeda Conquest (1982).

By 1983 the branded look of Hayne’s and Kibler’s early box arts had slowly petered out and in its place a step forward in artistry was presented.  Artist Jim Talbot brought a new breadth of style and versatility to AH’s box arts from traditional war paintings (Panzer Jag’d, 1983 and Tsushima, 1985), to fantasy and sci-fi illustrations (Death Trap, 1983 and Beast War, 1984), to even comic book art with Mission on Thunderhead (1985). He’d be commissioned at a time when AH had diversified, taking advantage of the popular role play game (RPG) market, and along with artist Stephanie M. B. Czech and her excellent Legionnaire (1982) Paris in Danger, (1983) and Controller (1982) cover arts, would be responsible for much of AH’s box art output between 1983 - 1985.

The later half of the 80’s saw the company again concentrate on traditional strategic wargaming with artist George Parrish being commissioned - noted for his historical paintings and board game box art. George would carry on the painted realism found in Talbot’s war themed cover arts and help set the stage for this style of art’s universal usage in the 90’s.

Artists Kurt Miller (Advanced Civilisation, 5th Fleet, Flight Commander 2) Tyson C. Millbert (Achtung Spitfire, History of the World, Over the Reich) and prolific box artist Marc William Ericksen (Operation Crusader, World at War: Volume 2 Stalingrad) would all produce painted works before Hasbro’s takeover in 1998. The takeover would mark the end of AH’s chapter as a computer game publisher.

The box dimensions used in the 80’s is of interest and deserves mention. Far larger than most on the market at that time they not only accommodated the large 5 ¼” disks (although most formats were cassette tape), but also mimicked AH’s board game boxes as the company undoubtedly sought to appeal to their traditional fan base. Their size made the artworks imposing and also allowed for room on the reverse for the extensively written blurb - a common early video game trait but usually found in the manual.




>Box art history

>Notable box arts

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Legionnaire

Published by The Avalon Hill Game Company in 1982 for the the North American market.

Atari 8-bit ver. pictured.



Stephanie’s excellent cover for Legionnaire would be a high point in Avalon’s box art catalogue.  It would take obvious inspiration from the ancient Graceo/ Roman art world and pull off the style with some aplomb, looking as though it had been cut from a 2000 year old fresco. It is a masterful example of overall composition design, with a delicate colour pallette and emotional characterisation.  It exudes masculinity and the messy, tragic results of war.

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>Box art review

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Ayami Kojima. Japanese box artist from 1997-2007.





The self-taught artist would start out illustrating covers for various Japanese novels including Majin, Cluster Saga, and Nobunaga's Ambition, before being discovered by Konami whilst working as a secretary. She would get her big break in 1997 with Konami’s Castlevania: The Symphony of the Night (SOTN) for PlayStation’s European and Japanese releases. Not only creating it’s masterful box art she would also design the in game character art, giving protagonist Alucard and chums a delicate, effeminate look, not unlike artist Kikuchi Hideyuki’s infamous D (who she had previously worked with).

This new look would be in contrast to Castlevania’s previous box art style of depicting the hero as some hulking 1980’s action hero. The new artistic approach worked and helped make Castlevania critically and commercially relevant once again. The following year Ayami would be responsible for the SOTN’s Saturn box art and found time to produce the stylistically similar cover art for Koei’s Soldnerschild, also for the Saturn and later PS1 (1997) and Chou-Denki Card Battle for the WonderSwan (1999).

She would go on to create many other classic Castlevania box arts with her final one to date being the PSP’s Dracula X Chronicles (2007). All would follow the same art style first seen in SOTN apart from Castlevania: Circle of the Moon (2001). This box art’s anime look would be deliberate as it set out to appeal to the Game Boy Advance’s younger audience. Since then she has created the artwork for download only Castlevania: Harmony of Despair and provided artworks for Koei’s Dynasty Warriors 7.  

A traditional artist in the art media she uses, Ayami starts by sketching with conté crayon sticks and then creates shadows with more conté and India ink. She then Adds depth and texture, usually to the background follows by spreading and shaping molding paste with a palette knife. Base colors are then painted into the work using diluted acrylics and finger smudging is used to create glows. To finish, metallic paint highlights are used and then enhanced with a gloss polymer.  This art method has been used on all box arts to date, and the artist’s reluctance to go the every popular computer-art route has been refreshing and revered by fans worldwide.

>Artist profile

Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow | Konami | 2003 | Game Boy Advance. (8)

Castlevania Chronicles | Konami | 2001 | NA ver. | PS1.

Castlevania: Chronicles | Konami | 2001 | EU/ JPN ver. | PS1. (4)  

Castlevania: Circle of the Moon | Konami | 2001 | Game Boy Advance. (2)

Castlevania: Curse of Darkness | Konami | 2005 | PS2.

Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance | Konami | 2002 | Game Boy Advance.

Castlevania: Lament of Innocence | Konami | 2003 | NA ver | PS2. (1)

Castlevania: Lament of Innocence | Konami | 2003 | EU/ JPN ver. | PS2.

Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles | Konami | 2001. | Sony PSP. (5)

Castlevania: The Symphony of the Night | Konami | 1997 | EU/ JPN ver. | PS1. (6)

Castlevania: The Symphony of the Night | Konami | 1998 | Saturn. (9)

Chou-Denki Card Battle | Koubunsha | 1999 | WonderSwan.

Ishin no Arashi Bakumatsu Shishiden | Koei | 1998 | PS1, Saturn. (7)

Soldnerschild | Koei | 1997 | PS1, PS2, Saturn. (3)


>Box art catalogue

>Box art review

Castlevania: The Symphony of the Night (Akumajo Dracula X: Gekka no Yasoukyoku)

Published by Konami in 1998 for the Japanese Sega Saturn market.  




Kojima would help reinvent and revitalise the Castlevania series with this masterful artwork.

Before her involvement Castlevania’s box arts in general couldn’t have been more different. Hulking overtly Americanised characters, Hammer Horror Dracula's and clichéd backdrops had artistically populated the series since 1986.  Ayami’s delicate, effeminate characterisation drastically changed all of that and along with Konami’s new “Metroidvaina” gameplay critically made the series relevant again.

It is a box art of great quality and an example of fine artistry winning over the then popular CG art look of the late 1990’s. Ayami would also be responsible for the stylistically similar European/ Japanese PlayStation version.

The success of The Symphony of the Night made Ayami one of Konami’s premier artists and forever linked her to the series. She would follow up just about all her subsequent box arts in Symphony’s style of art.

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