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.
B-1 Nuclear Bomber by Bob Haynes.
North American artwork. Published by The Avalon Gaming Company in 1980 for the North American market.
Apple II ver. pictured. Also available on: Atari 8-bit, C64, TRS-80.
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Bahamut Lagoon (バハムート ラグーン) by Akira Watanabe.
Japanese artwork. Published by Square in 1996 for the Japanese Super Famicom market.
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Brandish 4 (ブランディッシュ4 眠れる神の塔) by Jun Suemi.
Japanese artwork. Published by Falcom in 1996 for the Japanese Windows market.
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Japanese artwork. Published by Microsoft Game Studios in 2007 for the European and North American Xbox 360 markets.
Box art index - B
Artist index - B
B-1 Nuclear Bomber | The Avalon Gaming Company | 1980.
English artwork. Published by Konami in 1988 for the European and North American markets.
Amiga ver. pictured. Also available on: C64, DOS.
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>Melvyn Grant’s Baal would ditch Psygnosis’ usual sci-fi box arts and vehemently assert its own horror-fantasy instead.
Originally a cut-out children’s mask available in the mid-80s on the back of a UK cereal box, the artwork was called “Jaws” and painted in oils on a 6.5 x 12 inch board. It was then commissioned by the Liverpool developer in 1988.
Possibly Melvyn’s first box art for Psygnosis (it could also be Captain Fizz meets the Blaster-Trons), he would go on to provide the developer with further commissioned pieces, adding a darker edge to the publishers box art portfolio.
Barbarian by Roger Dean.
English artwork. Published by Psygnosis in 1987 for the European and North American markets.
Atari ST ver. pictured. Also availble on: Amiga, Apple II, C64, DOS, ZX Spectrum.
Click to enlarge
>Following on from the lofty highs of both Psygnosis’ debut Brataccas and follow up Deep Space, Roger Dean would turn from sci-fi to fantasy with Barbarian.
It would be classic Dean showcasing the artist’s talent for creating beautiful other worlds and far-stretching, sunburnt vistas.
Painted on board using acrylic and coined as ‘Red Dragon’, Barbarian would mimic Brataccas’ style of art whereby the foreground and background looked as though they’d been lit from different times of the day, giving a mesmerising presence to the dragon-like creature. It would be a favoured technique that the artist used again on the Shadow of the Beast box arts.
Barbarian would cement Psygnosis’ ethos of fine art selling video games, and helped open the flood gates to Europe’s classic late-80 - early-90’s box art period.
Blood Money by Peter Andrew Jones.
English artwork. Published by Psygnosis in 1989 for the European and North American markets.
Atari ST ver. pictured. Also availble on: Amiga, C64, DOS.
>One of Peter’s finest from an already bulging portfolio of exceptional box art by this prolific artist.
Blood Money like many of Psygnosis’ early box arts started life elsewhere, in this case as the cover to 70’s sci-fi novel: Protector by Larry Niven. It would continue Psygnosis’ trend of commissioning artworks from Europe’s hottest sci-fi and fantasy painters, following on from such great works as: Baal, Terrorpods and Menace.
The in-game’s graphics share the box art’s other-worldly look up to a point but the connection is slight at best.
Blood Money today is one of Peter’s most popular artworks and can be found in his Solar Winds collection.
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Brataccas by Roger Dean.
English artwork. Published by Psygnosis in 1986 for the European and North American markets.
Amiga ver. pictured (1st edition). Also availble on: Atari ST, Mac.
>From the inspired mind of one of the UK’s great fantasy artists, Roger Dean, Brataccas would help push the box art medium to new levels of excellence whilst ushering Europe into its cover art golden age.
Before Brataccas, the quality of Europe’s box art output could be viewed as tentative. Groundwork had been made by fledgling artists such as Bob Wakelin and David John Rowe, but Roger’s and Psygnosis’ vision to create fine promotional art, in Europe at least, was daringly new and unrehearsed.
The first edition of Brataccas (pictured) would not only be unique in Psygnosis’ box art portfolio, it being released in a book style format, but also laid claim to being the studio’s debut cover art.
From follow-up Deep Space until the PlayStation era, most subsequent cover arts would come housed in the standard thin-coloured border surrounded by black box (also true of the re-released second edition of Brataccas). This edition’s uniquely styled logo would also be changed for the second edition, looking more in line with Dean’s follow up logo work for Psygnosis.
Dean staples such as dynamic fore and background light sources, along with organic mechanical characters brought Brataccas’ acrylic finished alien vista alive. It also set a lofty benchmark that Psygnosis over the coming years would ever try to smash by commissioning some of the UK’s finest artists.
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After a brief stint under Marvel comics as a freelance artist in the late 1970’s, Bob moved into box art design, painting alongside early artists at the dawn of the UK software industry.
In 1983 he would get wind of David Ward’s new company, Ocean Software, who were in need of an illustrator. Landing the position he would produce their earliest box arts for games such as, Gilligans Gold, High Noon and Road Frog.
By 1984 Ocean had started to secure the rights to video game movie tie-ins and striking deals with Japanese developer’s Taito and Konami to bring their arcade hits to Europe. In response, Bob’s art would start to reflect the explosive film and arcade posters of the day with his talent for quality imitation proving to be a selling point for what could usually be a weak gaming experience. Not just an imitator though... when a more creative approach was needed, or allowed for, he would be equally adept at producing fine works such as Elf and Epic.
It was not only his versatility in approach that made him popular, but also his diverse style. He would from one job to another produce with ease realistic American influenced box arts (Cabal, Operation Wolf), to then imitate Japanese character art with a respect and delicacy that would be lost on most of his peers (The NewZealand Story, Pang, Rainbow Islands).
Early in Bob’s cover art career he worked with graphically basic games that couldn’t be relied on for inspiration, and that left his imagination to instead fill in the gaps. Calling himself a big kid at heart, his bold and colourful characters would give children something to imagine in ways the games couldn’t. He credits knowing how to appeal to children as one of the reasons why he’s been successful. Later, with the more powerful home computers of the late 80’s and the early 90’s his box arts would become richer and more complex and he would produce some of his best works in this period such as Wizkid, Chase HQ, Sleepwalker and Choplifter III.
Bob like many artists of that period was producing box arts at a lightning fast rate, usually working with little more than a description of the game, its title and a brief demo.
He would then take this subject matter, spend a day referencing and then complete the artwork within four to ten days. A lot of the time he would sketch out a detailed draft in pencil and then airbrush over it adding detail with gouache and felt pen to finish. Speed was an essential box artist ingredient but could lead to poor rush jobs. Bob’s talent and high level of consistency meant he had few of these in his catalogue giving the impression that when something did turn out as something less than stellar, it was more of a case of tedium getting in the way than ability.
Bob would carry on working for Ocean until its takeover in 1995 with box art Central Intelligence being his last. Freelancing all those years for Ocean had allowed him the opportunity to produce comic book art and magazine covers, so when the Ocean work dried up he went back to Marvel comics.
Athena | Ocean Software | 1987 | EU ver.
Batman: The Caped Crusader (EU/ NA) | Ocean Software | 1988.
Billy the Kid | Ocean Software | 1991.
Cabal | Ocean Software | 1989 | EU ver.
Cavelon | Ocean Software | 1984.
Central Intelligence | Ocean Software | 1994.
Chase H.Q | Ocean Software | 1989 | EU ver.
Chinese Juggler | Ocean Software | 1983.
Choplifter III: Rescue Survive | Ocean Software | 1994 | EU/ NA ver.
Comic Bakery | Ocean Software | 1986.
Cosmic Wartoad | Ocean Software | 1985.
Daley Thompson’s Decathlon | Ocean Software | 1984.
Dam Busters, The | Ocean Software | 1984.
Elf | Ocean Software | 1991.
Epic | Ocean Software | 1992.
Eskimo Eddie | Ocean Software | 1984.
Flyer Fox | Ocean Software | 1984.
Frankie goes to Hollywood | Ocean Software | 1985.
Galivan | Ocean Software | 1986.
Gift From the Gods | Ocean Software | 1984.
Gilligan’s Gold | Ocean Software | 1984.
Great Escape, The | Ocean Software | 1986.
Green Beret | Ocean Software | 1986.
Gryzor | Ocean Software | 1987 | EU/ NA ver.
Gutz | Ocean Software | 1988.
Head over Heals | Ocean Software | 1987 | EU ver.
High Noon | Ocean Software | 1984.
Highlander | Ocean Software | 1986.
Hunchback | Ocean Software | 1983.
Hunchback II | Ocean Software | 1984.
Hyper Sports | Ocean Software | 1985.
International Open Golf Championship | Ocean Software | 1993.
Island of Death | Ocean Software | 1983.
Ivanhoe | Ocean Software | 1990.
Mag Max | Ocean Software | 1986.
Match Day | Ocean Software | 1984.
Match of the Day II | Ocean Software | 1987.
Midnight Resistance | Ocean Software | 1990 | EU ver.
Mikie | Ocean Software | 1986 | EU ver.
Moon Alert | Ocean Software | 1984.
MOVIE | Ocean Software | 1986.
Mutants | Ocean Software | 1987 | EU ver.
NARC | Ocean Software | 1990 | EU ver.
NewZealand Story, The | Ocean Software | 1989 | EU ver.
Operational Wolf (EU) | Ocean Software | 1988 | EU ver.
Pang | Ocean Software | 1990 | EU ver.
Parasol Stars | Ocean Software | 1992 | EU ver.
Psycho Solider | Ocean Software | 1988.
Pud Pud | Ocean Software | 1984.
Rainbow Islands | Ocean Software | 1990 | EU ver.
Rastan | Ocean Software | 1988 | EU ver.
Renegade | Ocean Software | 1987 | EU ver.
Renegade III | Ocean Software | 1989.
Road Frog | Ocean Software | 1983.
Royal Birkdale Championship Golf | Ocean Software | 1983.
Shadow Warriors | Ocean Software | 1990.
Sleepwalker | Ocean Software | 1993.
Slugger, The | Ocean Software | 1985.
Super Bowl | Ocean Software | 1986.
Super Soccer | Ocean Software | 1986.
Target: Renagade | Ocean Software | 1988.
Vindicator: Green Beret II, The | Ocean Software | 1988.
When time Stood Still | Ocean Software | 1987.
Wizball | Ocean Software | 1988.
Wizkid | Ocean Software | 1992.
After flittering with the idea of becoming a violinist and making a career in medicine, the young Boris settled on fine art attaining a scholarship at The National School of Fine Arts in native Peru. Already making a name for himself as a fine painter, Boris with little more than a pocket of dollars (and a bucket load of confidence) immigrated to the States with bigger dreams in 1964.
For the next few years he would paint everything from cards to catalogues to comics before discovering American comic fantasy art. He would pursue this new love and build a reputation for his sensual, erotic art and sculpted depictions of the human form. Book covers, comics, film posters, disc pockets… no media was left unexploited by Boris throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s.
With a firm reputation in place by the end of the 1980’s he would start getting offers to create video game box art. With this period’s love for all things fantasy, Vallejo’s style would naturally fit and he would debut with Dragon Wars in 1989 (interestingly Vallajo’s only box art to release in Japan).
This would begin a busy period for the artist as he became a main stay for both Sega of America (Ecco trilogy, Golden Axe II, Phantasy Star 4) and the now defunct Accolade (Onslaught, Mike Ditka’s Ultimate Football). Ecco the Dolphin (1992) would especially help propel him to new levels recognition with the game being a massive global hit.
His box arts up until Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future in 2000 would be highly recognisable and pull no punches when it came to grabbing attention, something he has always been well aware of. His art sold, and when you compare his box arts to what else was on the shelves of Wal-Mart in 1991 it’s clear to see why. Heroic, grotesque, horrific, erotic and beautiful, Boris’ artworks would appeal to our desires.
His favoured medium throughout his career has been oils and certainly all box arts look painted so. Each piece would be normally completed within six, 8-hour days. Later he would also collaborate with his partner Julie Bell, herself a prolific box artist (Wolfenstein 3D, Turrican, Hardball!), creating RYL: Path of the Emperor and promo artwork for Bioshock 2.
Doom II: Hell on Earth | id Software | 1994.
Demise-rise of the Ku-tan | Artifact Entertainment | 2000.
Dragon Wars | Interplay | 1989.
Conan the Cimmerian | Virgin | 1991.
Ecco the Dolphin | Sega | 1992 | EU/ NA ver.
Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future | Sega | 2000.
Ecco the Dolphin: Tides of Time | Sega | 1994 | EU/ NA ver.
Eric the Unready | Legend Entertainment Company | 1993.
Golden Axe II | Sega | 1991 | EU/ NA ver.
Les Manley in: Lost in LA | Accolade | 1991.
Might and Magic VII: For Blood and Honor | 3DO Company | 1999.
Mike Ditka’s Ultimate Football | Accolade | 1991.
Onslaught | Accolade | 1991.
Phantasy Star IV | Sega | 1994 | EU/ NA ver.
RYL: Path of the Emperor | Planetwide Games | 2005.
Shannara | Legand Entertainment Company | 1995.
Swords and Serpents | Acclaim Entertainment | 1990.
Wings of Wor | Dreamworks | 1990 | NA ver.