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 is a site dedicated to the history of video game box art/ cover art and the artists responsible.
Box art is profiled from a variety of angles using high quality scans, with the intention of acknowledging the men and women who have played such a major role in shaping our gaming experiences over the years.
Not only for gamers, BOX=ART is for all who enjoy quality artwork.
BOX=ART copyright ©2013 Adam Gidney. All rights reserved. Hosted by Dathorn.
>1994 - 1999
>Wachenroder - Range Murata
The latter years of the millennium’s end marked an obvious difference in box art quality between the East and West.
PlayStation and Saturn would be released at the same time in late 1994 and herald a new beginning for video games. CDs were now the popular format, a more sophisticated, adult medium when compared to the big, cardboard or plastic-boxed games, with their big, plastic cartridges. A point reinforced even further by family-friendly Nintendos reluctance to go the CD route with the N64. Sticking with their box/cartridge combo they would, among other things concrete their reputation as a child focused company.
The launch box arts for these three consoles in the West would be a preview of the cover art style and quality that was to come. PlayStation’s Ridge Racer, Saturn’s Clockwork Knight and Nintendo 64’s Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, all shipped with crude computer generated (CG) artworks, that have little interest going for them today. It wouldn’t stop there with major series debuts like Tomb Raider and Resident Evil also falling foul to cheap CG renditions. Ms Croft would have it particularly hard in her early days. As the industries first pinup, she would be glamorised in mid 90’s entertainment and lifestyle mags in all her polygon glory, but one could argue that her blocky PlayStation box art’s haven’t stood the test of time (was she even sexy back then?).
The jump to 3D bought out an ugly beast in the West as traditional and new artists found their feet using the various paint packages. This period would also start the trend of publishers outsourcing box art duties to marketing companies and often with disastrous results. Cheap and garish mock ups with little understanding of the game would flood the market.
While the west got to grips with CG art, Japan was producing some of the finest box art to date using traditional art mediums. Her artists were still getting their hands dirty and it was paying off with the likes of, Dai-Chan (Street Fighter Zero) and Akihiro Yamada (Terra Fantastica), creating masterful box arts that appreciated the importance of great art-selling games.
While it has always been common to look upon Japanese box art favourably over its western counterpart, the shear level of quality shown by the Japanese in this period divides the perceived gap further. A great example is Castlevania: The Symphony of the Night. In Japan and Europe it’s one of the finest box arts money can buy. On the other hand, unlucky Americans had to put up with one of the laziest cover arts in the PlayStation catalogue.
By the close of the millennium the 90’s had seen an inexhaustible amount of box art from a variety of machines, many of which didn’t make it to 2000. Consoles like the CD32, Jaguar and 3DO would come and go making little more than a dent in the industry and producing very few interesting box arts. Handhelds: The Game gear, Lynx, Nomad and the Turbo Express would all stake their claim but wouldn’t penetrate the market with the mighty Game Boy on the loose. Box art for these machines are a mixed bag, with some nice Japanese pieces, but all too often they’re watered down versions of their home console brothers (Ax Battler for the Game Gear is excellent though). We would have to wait until 2001 and the Game Boy Advance before we consistently got some great handheld box art.
Last updated 25/8/14 by Adam Gidney
Notable box arts 1994 - 1999 Dates are from when first published. >Click on images to enlarge.