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


Video game box art and artist history database




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


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


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

Box art index: A - Aw

Artist index: Ad - Ay

Adrian Powell.  English box artist in 1991.

Lemmings | Psygnosis | 1991.  

Oh No! More Lemmings | Psygnosis | 1991.  

Amazing Spider-Man: Lethal Foes (スパイダーマン リーサルフォーズ) by Mark Bagley (penciller), Karl Kesel (inks) and Paul Mounts (colourist).

North American artwork. Published by Epoch Co. in 1995 for the Japanese Super Famicom market.  

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>The Japanese would score an exclusive North American artwork - unusual for the time - for this highly sought after game. It would be based on the Marvel four issue mini-series The Lethal Foes from 1993 and was drawn on Bristal board with an image area of 11”x15”.

>Pictured from top - Original box art and original pencil and ink design.


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Publisher index: Av

Ambermoon by Dieter Rottermund.

German artwork. Published by Thalion Software in 1993 for the European Amiga market.

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Another Code: R - A Journey into the Lost Memories (アナザーコード: R 記憶の扉) by Keisuke Sakamoto.

Japanese artwork. Published by Nintendo in 2009 for the European and Japanese Wii markets.

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Ancipital by Steinar Lund.

Norwegian/ English artwork. Published by Llamasoft in 1984 for the European C64 market.  

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> Ancipital’s box art would be one of many collaborations between Llamasoft’s Jeff Minter and artist Steinar Lund (also see, Batalyx and Attack of the Mutant Camel).

Ancipital was and still is a great example of how strong characterisation can be all a cover art needs to market a game.  It’s pop-psychadelic style and vivid use of colour was uncommon in Europe’s tentative 1984 box art scene, and was created using the artist’s prefered art medium of airbrush inks.  

The cover would scream graffiti-art, as if some bold statement was being made, and will undoubtedly end up being the only time a hoven man-yak was depicted!   

Ant Attack by David John Rowe.

English artwork. Published by Quicksilva in 1983 for the European market.

ZX Spectrum ver. pictured. Also available on: C64.  

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Altered Beast (獣王記) by Michiaki Satoh.

Japanese artwork. First published by Sega globally in 1988 for the Genesis/ Mega Drive market.  

Mega Drive ver. pictured. Also availble on: PC Engine (1989).

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>As one of the Genesis/ Mega Drives launch games Altered Beast’s cover would deliberately appeal to a maturer audience than what Sega had previously tried to with its SG-1000/ Master System.  The cover would also prove to be more gothic and horror focased compared to much of what Nintendo had allowed on its NES/ Famicom, again, to differentiate Sega’s audience from Nintendo’s.

>Pictures from top - Original box art and complete panoramic artwork.


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A Fork in the Tale by Julie Bell.

North American artwork. Published by Any River Entertainment in 1997 for the North American Windows market.

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Abu Simbel Profanation by Alfonzo Azpiri.

Spanish artwork. Published by Dinamic in 1985 for the European market.

ZX Spectrum ver. pictured. Also available on: Amstrad CPC, MSX.  

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ABPA Backgammon by Jerrol Richardson.

North American artwork. Published by Mattel Electronics in 1979 for the North American Intellivision market.  

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Advanced Dungeons & Dragons by Jerrol Richardson.

North American artwork. Published by Mattel Electronics in 1982 for the North American Intellivision market.

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Advance Wars (ゲームボーイウォーズアドバンス Gēmu Bōi Wōzu Adobansu) by Ryou Hirata.

Japanese artwork. Published by Nintendo globally in 2001 for the Game Boy Advance markets.

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>Adventureland would be the first Scott Williams text adventure. The TRS-80 version - the first of many different computer versions - would also house the debut cover art from artist Peppy.  

Peppy’s almost childlike approach to art design would be wonderfully whimsy, and was used before adventure box arts became painterly and very much in line with the more serious fantasy and sci-fi artworks found on 80’s book covers.

Adventureland by Peppy (Kem McNair).

North American artwork. First published by Adventure International in 1979 for the North American TRS-80 market.


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Adventure Island: Part II (高橋名人の冒険島II) by Susumu Matsushita.

Japanese artwork. Published by Hudson Soft in 1991 for the European and Japanese markets.

NES ver. pictured. Also available on: Famicom.  

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Adventure A: Planet of Death by Tony Roberts.

English artwork. First published by Arctic Computing in 1982 and for the European market.

ZX Specturm ver. pictured. Also available on: ZX 81 and Amiga.

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>Adventure A’s original 1981 cover art would be typical of early UK bedroom-coder style covers that were functional but hardly inspiring.  

Publisher Artic Computing would take the pioneering step of commissioning established S.F painter Tony Roberts to create the re-release cover in 1982.  Tony is at present the earliest high profile artist to design video game box art. He would go on to design Adventure B and Adventure C’s covers.

Psygnosis would also commission the artwork for it’s game Agony (1992) and it would additionaly be used on various Italian novel cover arts.

>Pictued from the top - Original Artic 1982 box art, Psygnosis reissue and 1981 Artic cover art.  


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Alien Storm (エイリアンストー) by Yoshiaki Yoneshima.

Japanese artwork. Published by Sega in 1991 for the Japanese Mega Drive market.

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Alien vs. Predator by Andrew H. Denton.

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

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A View to a Kill by Daniel Goozee.

North American artwork. Published by Domark in 1985 for the the European market.

C64 ver. pictured. Also available on: MSX, ZX Spectrum.

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>Dan Goozee’s famous poster art for the 1985 James Bond movie would be one of the earliest examples of this media being licenced for video game box art.


ARMS (グリーンベレー) by Yu Yamamoto.

Japanese artwork. Published by Nintendo in 2017 for the global Switch market.

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>ARMS was Yu’s first box art. The artist would be responsible for the overal character design models, logotype and promotiom art accompanying the game.

The artist has explained that because ARMS was a new Nintendo property the character art was changing daily, and so a close working relationship with the development team was required.

The artwork took into account the Switch’s vertical case dimentions (that were still undecided when the game’s graphic design had started) and was designed to show depth, that the game is a 3D fighter and to promote a ‘hot competition’ (the artist’s words).  


Asteroids by Chris Kenyon.

North American artwork. First published by Atari in 1981 for the European and North American Atari 2600 markets.

Atari 2600 ver. pictured. Also available on: Atari 2800 (1983).  

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Atlantis by Michael Becker.

North American artwork. Published by Imagic in 1982 for the European and North American markets.

Atari 2600 ver. pictured. Also available on: Atari 8-bit, Intellivision, Odyssey 2, VIC-20.  

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Autobahn by Janet Lopez.

North American artwork. Published by Sirius Software Inc. in 1981 for the North American Apple II market.  

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>Taking inspiration from German car adverts from the 1930’s - see Adler and Peugeot - Autobahn’s art style would be an early and rare example of European advertising and war time propaganda art being used in box art design.  

It’s flat, pastel colour palette and clever incorporation of logo would artistically lift it above Sirius’ other early covers and complimented the era’s love for bold and simple designs.

Janet would be responsible for other Sirius box arts, but looked to have left the industry in 1983 after Sirius fell victim to the US video game crash and folded.

Of interest, Autobahn’s artwork thematically complimeted the actual games content - basically a top down Monaco GP clone. A rarity for the American scene in the early 1980’s where overblown and often misleading cover arts were standard.   


Akihiko Yoshida.  Japanese box artist from 1993-2017.

Braverly Default: Flying Fairy | Square Enix | 2012.

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

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

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

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age | Square Enix | 2017.

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

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

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

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

NieR: Automata | Square Enix | 2017 | JPN ver.

Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen | Quest | 1993.

Wild Card | Squaresoft | 2001.

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

Vagrant Story | Squaresoft | 2000.

Akihiro Yamada.  Japanese box artist from 1990-2001.

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

Black Rainbow | Hobby Japan | 1990.

Black Rainbow II | Hobby Japan | 1992.

Castlevania: Dracula XX | Konami | 1994.

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

Front Mission 3 | Squaresoft | 1999.

Might and Magic | NEC Avenue | 1992.

Might and Magic III: Isles of Terror | Hudson Soft | 1993.  

Milandra | ASCII Corp | 1997.

Mystic Arc | Enix Corp | 1995.

Mystic Arc: Maboroshi Gekijo | Enix Corp | 1999.

RPG Tsukuru 95 | ASCII Corp | 1997.

Saiyuki : Journey West | Koei | 1999.

Sānguó Qúnxiá Zhuàn | Softworld | 2002.

Shinkai Densetsu Meremanoid | XING | 1999.

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

Terra Phantastica | Sega | 1996.

Wizardry I-II | Naxat | 1993.

Wizardry III-IV | Naxat | 1994.  

Wǔlín Qúnxiá Zhuàn | Softworld | 2001.

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

1942 | Capcom | 1985.

Captain Commando | Capcom | 1995 | JPN ver.

Final Fight | Capcom | 1992.

Forgotten Worlds | Capcom | 1989 | Mega Drive ver.

Kidou Senshi Gundam: Giren no Yabou - Axis no Kyoui V | Bandai | 2009.

Magic Sword | Capcom | 1992 | JPN ver.

Marvel Super Heroes | Capcom | 1997 | JPN ver.

Mystery Dungeon Shrien the Wanderer | Sega | 2006 | JPN ver.

Side Arms Hyper Dyne | Go! Media Holdings | 1988.

Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness | Square Enix | 2016.

Street Fighter II | Capcom | 1991 | JPN ver.

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

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

X-Men: Children of the Atom | Capcom | 1995.

Akikazu Mizuna.  Japanese box artist.

Phantasy Star Online ver. 2 | Sega | 2001.

Akira Komeda.  Japanese box artist from 1985-1996.

Casablanca: Ni ai o Satsujin-sha wa jikū o Koete | Thinking Rabbit | 1986.

Dōkeshi Satsujin Jiken | Thinking Rabbit | 1985.

Getsu Fūma Den | Konami | 1987.

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

Jack Las Vegas Renzoku Satsujin | Takeru | 1988.

Jikū Yūden Debias | Namco | 1987.

Kogane no Rashinban | Thinking Rabbit | 1990.

Kohakushoku no Yuigon | Thinking Rabbit| 1996.

Madeleine: Naki ōjo no Tame no Pavane | Thinking Rabbit | 1987.

Man I Love, The | Thinking Rabbit | 1987.

Might and Magic Book II | Elite Systems Ltd. | 1993.

Phantasie III: The Wrath of Nikademus | Starcraft Inc | 1988.

Princess Minerva | Riverhill Soft | 1992 | PC-98 ver.

Akira Nishimura.  Japanese box artist in 1988.

Gradius II | Konami | 1988.

Akira Toriyama.  Japanese box artist from 1986-2017.

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.   

Blue Dragon | Microsoft | 2006 | EU/ JPN ver.

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

Blue Dragon Plus | Ignition Entertainment | 2009.

Chrono Trigger | Square | 1995 | JPN ver.

Chrono Trigger | Squaresoft | 1995 | NA ver.

Dragon Ball: Mystery of Shenron | Bandai Co | 1986.

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

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

Dragon Quest | Enix Corp | 1986.

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

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

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

Dragon Quest II | Enix Corp | 1987.

Dragon Quest III | Enix Corp | 1988.

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

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

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

Dragon Quest V: Tenku no Hanayome | Enix Corp | 1992 | Super Famicom ver.

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

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

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

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

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

Dragon Quest VII | Enix Corp | 2000.

Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King | Square Enix | 2004.

Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King | Square Enix | 2004.

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

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

Dragon Quest X: Awakening of the Five Tribes – ver. 1 | Square Enix | 2012.

Dragon Quest X: Awakening of the Five Tribes – ver. 2 | Square Enix | 2013.

Dragon Quest X: Awakening of the Five Tribes – ver. 3 | Square Enix | 2015.

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

Dragon Quest Builders | Square Enix | 2016 | JPN ver.

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

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

Dragon Quest Monsters | Enix Corp | 1998 | JPN ver.

Dragon Quest Monsters: Caravan Heart | Enix Corp | 2003.

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

Dragon Quest Monsters 2: Cobi’s Journey | Enix | 2001 | NA ver.

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

Dragon Quest Monsters 2: Iru and Luca's Marvelous Mysterious Key | Square Enix | 2014.

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

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

Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker | Square Enix | 2006.

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

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

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

Tobal No. 1 | Square | 1996 | JPN ver.

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

World of Dragon Warrior: Torneko – The Last Hope | Enix Corp | 2001 | GBA ver.

Akira Watanabe.  Japanese box artist from 1986-2001.

Bahamut Lagoon | Squaresoft | 1996.

Battle Unit Zeoth | Jaleco Ltd | 1990.

Buggy Run | Sega Enterprise Ltd. | 1993.

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

Gale Racer | Sega Enterprise Ltd. | 1991.

Moepro! 90 Kandō-hen | Jaleco Ltd | 1990.

OutRun | Sega Enterprise Ltd. | 1986.

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

OutRunners | Sega Enterprise Ltd. | 1993.

Pengo | Sega Enterprise Ltd. | 1990.

Pro Yakyū GG League | Sega Enterprise Ltd. | 1991.

Project F: F1 Team Simulation | Shin Nihon Laser Soft Co. Ltd | 1991.

Sonic the Hedgehog | Sega Enterprise Ltd. | 1991 | JPN ver.

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

Super E.D.F. | Jaleco Ltd | 1991.

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

Touge Max 2 | Atlus | 1998.

Touge 3  | Atlus | 2001.

Turbo OutRun | Sega Enterprise Ltd. | 1992 | JPN ver.

Akira Yasuda - see Akiman.

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

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).

>Notable and influencial The Avalon Hill Game Company box arts.

5th Fleet | 1994 | by Kurt Miller. (7)

Achtung Spitfire | 1997 | Tyson C. Milbert.

B-1 Nuclear Bomber | 1980 | by Bob Haynes. (5)

Beast War | 1984 | by Jim Talbot.

Controller | 1982 | by Stephanie M. B. Czech.

Galaxy | 1981 | by Charles Kibler.

Gulf Strike | 1984 | by Jim Talbot.

Jupiter mission 1999 | 1984 | by Jim Talbot. (3)

Legionnaire | 1982 | by Stephanie M. B. Czech.

Lords of Karma | 1980. (2)

Midway Campaign | 1980 | by Bob Haynes.

Mission on Thunderhead | 1985 | by Jim Talbot. (1)

Operation Crusader | 1994 | Marc William Ericksen.

Spitfire 40 | 1986 | by George Pharrish. (8)

Tanktics | 1981 | by Charles Kibler. (6)

Telengard | 1982 | by Greg Theakston. (4)

Tsushima | 1985.

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.









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Alfonzo Azpiri. Spanish box artist.

Abu Simbel Profanation | Dinamic | 1985.

Rocky | Dinamic | 1985.

Alan Batson.  English box artist from 1992-1994.

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

Littil Devil | Gremlin Graphics | 1993 | with Steven McKevitt.

Zool: Ninja of the “Nth” Dimention | Gremlin Graphics | 1992 | DOS ver.

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

Zool: Ninja of the “Nth” Dimention | Gremlin Graphics | 1993 | Game Boy ver.

Zool 2 | Gremlin Graphics | 1993.

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

Alien vs. Predator | Atari | 1995.

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

F-Zero | Nintendo | 1990.  

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

God of War: Chains of Olympus | Sony | 2006 | JPN/ NA ver.

God of War, The Trilogy | Sony | 2010.

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 the PlayStation 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, not only with fans but also with SOTN’s more considered pace and story driven gameplay and helped make Castlevania critically 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.









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

Castlevania Chronicles | Konami | 2001 | NA ver.

Castlevania: Chronicles | Konami | 2001 | EU/ JPN ver. (5)  

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

Castlevania: Curse of Darkness | Konami | 2005.

Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance | Konami | 2002.  

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

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

Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles | Konami | 2001. (6)

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

Castlevania: The Symphony of the Night | Konami | 1998 | Saturn ver. (7)

Chou-Denki Card Battle | Koubunsha | 1999.

Ishin no Arashi Bakumatsu Shishiden | Koei | 1998. (4)

Soldnerschild | Koei | 1997. (3)

AX-2: Uchuu Yusousen Nostromo (宇宙輸送船ノストロモ) by Masashi Iwasaki.

Japanese artwork. Published by ASCII in 1982 for the Japanese PC-6001 market.

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>A turning point in Japanese box art design, the AX series of games (ten volumes running from 1982-1985 and exclusively for the PC-6001) would help popularise Japan’s early period of home computing gaming, a period lawless and cheap in design quality.  

ASCII’s Matsuhiro Matsuda sought to challenge the low quality that was available at the time with the AX series. A part of this revolution would involve quality painted artworks and a quality box, that shipped in a book style packaging.

The AX series is also the earliest known example of a branded look in Japanese box art design, with its red logo and white border.


Ax Battler: A Legend of Golden Axe (アックスバトラー ゴールデンアックス伝説 ) by Julie Bell.

North American artwork. Published by Sega in 1991 for the European and North American Game Gear markets.  

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>Julie Bell would do the unthinkable and give Sega’s handheld an exclusive and quality western box art in Golden Axe offshoot: Ax Battler.

She would coin the artwork as “Savage Lands” after the game’s topography. The artwork would sit firmly in line with Julie’s other early 90’s cover arts (see, Eternal Champions, Defender of Rome II) and exudes a detailed, high fantasy look that was painted in the artist’s preferred media, oils.

Japan would unsurprisingly not use Julie’s art. Instead, it interestingly removed the series’ usual western barbarian look and replaced it with a “Koei war game” style box art by illustrator Jun Satoh.

Her equally famous partner Boris Vallejo would also that year create the box art for the stylistically similar American/ European release of Golden Axe II (Mega Drive/ Genesis).

Ax Battler: A Legend of Golden Axe (アックスバトラー ゴールデンアックス伝説 ) by Jun Satoh.

Japanese artwork. Published by Sega in 1991 for the Japanese Game Gear market.  

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Awesome by John Harris.

English artwork. Published by Psygnosis in 1990 for the European market.

Amiga ver. pictured. Also available on: Atari ST.

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>The Amiga version would get the panoramic box treatment that displays Harris’ artwork to its fullest. It would be an original commission and is arguably one of the finer sci-fi covers within Psygnosis’ pantheon.  Atari ST owner would have to surfice with a smaller box and a cropped version where the gravitas of the orignal is greatly lost.

The lettering was likely a Roger Dean effort.


Axeley (アクスレイ) by Tom Dubois.

North American artwork. Published by Konami in 1992 for the European and North American SNES markets.

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Air-Sea Battle.

Published by Atari in 1983 for the Japanese Atari 2800 market.

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>The 2800 would see 30 or so games released on its hardware, all of which had been previously published on the VCS/ 2600 between 1977-1983. Every game would have the original American cover art reused except for Air-Sea Battle.  No offical reason has been recorded as to why Cliff Spohn’s original cover from 1977 wasn’t used. But the American, warring imagery could perhaps have been seen as offensive to some Japanese.

It’s replacement is rather more culturally fitting, with its cute, anime style, and was more than likely designed by a Japanese illustrator. It is the earliest known example of box art being redesigned to be more regionally acceptable/ appropriate.

>Pictures from the top - Japanese cover and original North American cover.


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