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

 >Ma - Me

Artist index: Ma - Me

Publisher index: Ma

Video game series index: Me

Pages - Ma-Me  Mi-Mo

Hardware index: Me


Mark Bagley. North American box artist in 1995.

Amazing Spider-Man: Lethal Foes | Epock Co. | 1995 | by Mark Bagley (penciller), Karl Kesel (inks), Paul Mounts (colourist) | Super Famicom. (1)

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”.


>Box art catalogue

>Gallery

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Mark Wilkinson.  English box artist from 1988-1989.

Parisian Knights | Abstract Concepts | 1989 | Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum.

Troll | 1988 | Kixx | Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum.




Mindfighter | Abstract Concepts | 1988 | Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, MS-DOS, ZX Spectrum. (1)

The artist’s first box art would be commissioned by the games creator Fergus Macnell who at the time was a fan of Mark’s art for the rock group Marillion. Mark recalls, “Fergus wanted a boy - much like the boy I had drawn for Marillion’s Misplaced Childhood (1985 album)...who existed in some dystopian future...he had the ability to shape-shift into other creatures - and I used an Eagle.

The artwork was created using airbrushed acrylic ink. Poster.


>Box art catalogue

>Gallery

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Masaki Hirooka.  Japanese box artist in 2008.

Castlevania: Order of the Ecclesia | Konami | 2008 | NA ver. | Nintendo DS.

Suikoden Tierkreis | Konami | 2008 | EU/ JPN ver. | Nintendo DS.

Suikoden Tierkreis | Konami | 2008 | NA ver. | Nintendo DS.


Castlevania: Order of the Ecclesia | Konami | 2008 | EU/ JPN ver. | Nintendo DS. (1)

Masaki would be commisioned after the fan backlash brought on by the change in art direction of the previous two Nintendo DS games, Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow and Portrait of Ruin - both ended up very anime-lite in style.

The artist was also responsibe for the North American cover which was used as promotional material in Japan.

>Box art catalogue

>Box art review

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Masashi Iwasaki.  Japanese box artist from 1982-1990.

Legendary Axe | Victor Musical Industries | 1988 | JPN ver. | PC Engine.

Legendary Axe II | Victor Musical Industries | 1990 | JPN ver. | PC Engine.

Lord Over | ASCII | 1984 | MSX.

Space Harrier II | Sega | 1988 | JPN ver. | Mega Drive.






>Box art catalogue

>Gallery

AX-2: Uchū Yusōsen Nostromo (宇宙輸送船ノストロモ) | ASCII | 1982 | PC-6001. (1)

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 video games 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.

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Mastertronic.  Publisher from 1984-1991.





Alcatraz Harry | Mastertronic | 1984 | by John Smyth | ZX Spectrum.

BMX Racers | Mastertronic | 1984 | by Mark J. Bradly.

Captain Zapp | Mastertronic | 1987 | by Alex Raymond.

Dark Star | Mastertronic | 1984 | by Mark J. Bradly.

Demon’s Forge, The | Mastertronic | 1987 | NA ver. | by Oliver Frey. (1)

Feud | Mastertronic | 1987 | NA ver. | by Oliver Frey.

Finders Keepers | Mastertronic | 1985 | by John Smyth. (2)

Golden Axe | Virgin Games | 1990 | EU home comp ver | by Dermot Power.

Judge Dredd | Virgin Games | 1990 | by Dermot Power. (3)

Knight Games | Mastertronic | 1986 | NA ver. | by Oliver Frey.

Kobyashi Naru | Mastertronic | 1987.





Neutron Zapper | Mastertronic | 1984 | by Mark J. Bradly. (5)

Ninja | Mastertronic | 1986.

Ninja Warriors | Virgin Games | 1989.

Realms | Virgin Games | 1991 | by Dermot Power.

Sarakon | Virgin Games | 1991 | by Dermot Power.

Spellbound | M.A.D | 1985.

Spirit of Excaliber | Virgin Games | 1990  | by Mark J. Ferrari | Amiga, Apple IIgs, Atari ST, CDTV, Macintosh, MS-DOS.

Spot | Virgin Games | 1990 | EU/ NA ver. | Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Game Boy, MS- DOS, NES. (6)

Supremacy | Virgin Games | 1990 | by Dermot Power.

Vegas Jackpot | Mastertronic | 1984.

Way of the Exploding Fist | Ricohet | 1988 | by David John Rowe. (7)






Formed in 1984 by Martin Alper, Frank Herman, Terry Medway and Alan Sharam, Mastertronic Ltd would offer the UK its first budget video game line, the 199 range. The line’s early games could be of varying quality but their box arts were arguably of a consistent high standard for the period. Mastertronic Ltd would outsource its promo duties to fledgling London design studio Words & Pictures Ltd - an unusual move for the time. Words & Pictures Ltd would hire freelance artist’s Mark J. Brady and John Smyth to do the bulk of the publisher’s early output. If the game was sci-fi or fantastical, Mark’s Chris Foss inspired SF art would be used, and if the game was comedic or more childish then John’s cartoon art was preferred. A black boarder then surrounded all artworks with ‘Mastertronic’ on the top and ‘M’ logo at the bottom.  In addition, covers had a colour-coded triangle in the top right corner stating the games format – a first for the industry.  

Even through the 199 range proved hugely successful the profit margins were still slight compared to full price titles, and so in response Mastertronic Ltd released a more expensive range M.A.D (Mastertronic. Added. Dimension) retailing at £2.99 for Christmas 1985. To make this range distinctive from the 199 range cover arts dropped the sci-fi realism and instead adopted a more comic book style of art, featuring large, bold character art on a white dotted background (see, The Last V-8). 1986 saw Mastertronic setup its first overseas operation Mastertronic Inc. in the USA.  The ‘M’ logo would be become 3D and artworks were either redesigned or originals used depending on whether the game was first designed in the US or UK. Notably, games Feud and The Demon’s Forge re-commissioned cover arts from video game magazine Crash by esteemed English illustrator Oliver Frey.

Alongside Mastertronic’s original games the company also become well known for re-releasing other publisher’s older games at budget prices under the UK Ricochet range. Box arts would always use the games original artwork and be surrounded by a M.A.D styled dotted background. Companies such as Ultimate Play the Game, Melbourne House, Virgin Games and Martech took advantage of Mastertronic’s expertise, with hit titles Way of the Exploding Fist (box art by David John Rowe), Ghost Busters and Aliens getting new leases of life under Ricochet.

By the end of 1987 Virgin had acquired 45% of Mastertronic and the company went through many changes towards a complete Virgin take over the following year (Virgins interest was down to the fact that Mastertronic in 1987 had acquired the rights to distribute Sega Master System games in Europe). 1987 Cover arts had now dropped the original ‘M’ logo and in its place a new Mastertronic type – with small italic ‘i’ – emblazoned across the left side. Artworks throughout this period and when Virgin took over between 1988-1991 were varied and used many artists.

The newly coined Virgin Mastertronic label (1988) and the Mastertronic Plus range (replacing M.A.D in 1989) would however concentrate on budget 8-bit titles and re-releases, and their respective cover arts were looking tired and uninspired by the start of the 90’s. For full price titles Virgin dropped the Virgin Mastertronic label, instead using its traditional red Virgin logo (likely not wanting its full price games to be associated with a budget line). Notably, this period saw comic book artist Dermot Power start in the video game industry, with box arts Wonderland, Golden Axe and Judge Dredd showcasing his talent in Virgins full price line. With it’s budget game range dwindling in place of its full price range Virgin would lay to rest the Mastertronic label in around 1991, selling it to Sega.  Effectively, Mastertronic formed the basis of today’s Sega of Europe, and with it came the end of one of Europe’s early pioneering publishers.

Wonderland | Virgin Games | 1991 | by Dermot Power | Acorn Atom, Amiga, Atari ST, MS-DOS.  (8)

This cover would start a long career the artist has had within Lewis Carol’s universe.  

Dermot has commented that the original pencil drawing is better than the finished painting, and that Wonderland is the only box art he has personally retained.

Last V8, The | M.A.D | 1985 | Amstrad CPC, Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64. (4)

The Last V-8 would be budget publisher Mastertronic’s first game under its new line M.A.D (Mastertronic’s Added Dimension).  

The comic book/ pop art style would dishtinguish itself from the sci-fi/ comedic art of Mastetronic’s £1.99 range’s (see Dark Star and Finders Keepers respectively), but would be shortlived with more realistic art styles being used by 1987.  

>Box art history

>Select box art catalogue

>Gallery

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Masanori Sato.  Japanese box artist from 2002-2009.

Doshin the Giant | Nintendo | 2002 | JPN ver. | GameCube.

Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story | Nintendo | 2009 | 3DS.

Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time | Nintendo | 2005 | Nintendo DS.

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga | Nintendo | 2003 | Nintendo DS.

Mario Strikers Charged | Nintendo | 2007 | Nintendo Wii. (1)








>Box art catalogue

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>Gallery

Masaki Yamanaka.  Japanese box artist in 2009.

Madworld | Spike Co, Ltd. | 2009 | Nintendo Wii. (1)





>Box art catalogue

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>Gallery

Masaki Okumura.  Japanese box artist in 1988.

Xanadu: Dragon Slayer II | Nihon Falcom | 1988 | PC-88, Sharp X-1. (1)





>Box art catalogue

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>Gallery

Mark Stutzman.  North American box artist from 1990-1992.

Challenge of the Five Realms | Microplay Software | 1992 | MS-DOS.

Punisher, The | Microprose Software | 1990 | MS-DOS. (1)

Space 1889 | Paragon Software | 1990 | Amiga, Atari ST, MS-DOS.





>Box art catalogue

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>Gallery

Marek Okon.  Polish box artist from 2011-2017.


Dead Alliance | Maximum Games | 2017 | PS4, Windows, Xbox One.

Last of Us, The | Sony | 2013 | PS3.

Star Wars: The Old Republic | EA | 2011 | Windows.

Uncharted – The Lost Legacy | Sony | 2017 | PS4.

Witcher 3, The: Wild Hunt – Hearts of Stone | CD Projekt | 2016 | PS4, Windows, Xbox One. (1)




As one of today’s sought after conceptual artists in the video game and movie businesses, Marek has applied his talents to high profile properties such as studio 20th Century’s Captain America: Civil War and Gods of Egypt and publisher Sony’s Last of Us, God of War and the Uncharted series’.

He has provided key art as well as box art for game promotion, all designed in CG art.  His pieces are usually multi layered and composite with many different characters and assets.

>Artist profile

>Box art catalogue

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>Gallery

Marc William Ericksen.  North American box artist from 1982-2003.

1503 A.D.: The New World | EA | 2003 | Windows.

After Burner | Tengen | 1989 | NA ver. | NES.

Aeroblitz Supersonic | Koei | 1994 | NA ver. | Genesis, SNES.

Alpha Mission II | SNK America | 1991 | NA ver. | Neo Geo. (1)

Atomic Runner | Data East | 1992 | NA ver. | Genesis.

Blasteroids | Tengen | 1989 | NA ver. | Commodore 64.

Bermuda Triangle | Data Age | 1982 | Atari 2600/ VCS.

B.O.B | EA | 1993 | EU/ NA ver. | Genesis, Mega Drive, SNES.

Bonk 3: Bonk’s Big Adventure | Turbo Technologies | 1993 | NA ver. | Turbo Grafx.

Chelnov: Atomic Runner | Data East | 1992 | NA ver. | Genesis.

Chop ‘n Drop | Activision | 1988 | NA ver. | Commodore 64.

Choplifter! | Broderbund Software | 1982 | NA ver. | Apple II, Commodore 64.

Crash Dive | Fox Video Games | 1983 | Atari 2600/ VCS.

Das Boot: German U-Boat Simulation | Three-Sixty Pacific | 1990 | Amiga, MS-DOS.

David’s Midnight Magic | Broderbund | 1982 | EU/ NA ver. | Apple II, Atari 2600/ VCS, Commodore 64.

Deadly Skies | Tronix Publishing | 1983 | VIC-20.

Drol | Broderbund Software | 1983 | NA ver. | Apple II, Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64.

Evasive Action | Software Toolworks | 1993 | MS-DOS.

First Over Germany | SSI | 1988 | Commodore 64, MS-DOS.

Full Tilt! Pinball | Maxis Software | 1996 | Macintosh, Windows, Windows 3.x.

G-Loc Air Battle | Sega | 1991 | EU/ NA ver. | Genesis, Mega Drive..

Galactic Blitz | Tronix Publishing | 1982 | VIC-20.

Galaga | Atari | 1987 | Atari 7800.

Ghost Pilots | SNK America | 1991 | Neo Geo.

Gold Fever | Tronix Publishing | 1983 | VIC-20.

Gridrunner | Human Engineered Software | 1982 | Commodore 64.

Guerillia War | SNK Corp | 1989 | NA ver. | NES.

Harley’s Humongous Adventure | Hi-Tech Expressions | 1993 | SNES, Super Famicom.

Heavy Barrel | Data East | 1989 | NA ver. | Apple II, MS-DOS, NES.

Herzog Zwei | Sega | 1990 | EU/ NA ver. | Genesis, Mega Drive.

Hockey | Atari | 1992 | Lynx.

Hydra | Atari | 1992 | Lynx.  

Ikari III: The Rescue | SNK Corp of America | 1990 | NA ver. | Commodore 64, MS-DOS, NES.

Incredible Crash test Dummies, The | LJN | 1992 | EU/ NA ver. | Game Boy.

Incredible Crash test Dummies, The | LJN | 1993 | Amiga, Game Boy (JPN ver), Game Gear, Genesis, Master System, Mega Drive, SNES, Super Famicom.

James Pond 2: Codename Robocod | EA | 1991 | EU/ NA ver. | Genesis, Mega Drive.

Juice! | Tronix Publishing | 1983 | Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64.

Kid Grid | Tronix Publishing | 1982 | Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64.

Laser Force | Britannica Software | 1989 | Apple IIgs.

Lock n’ Chase | Sun Electronics Corp | 1990 | Game Boy.

LucasArts Air Combat Classics | LucasArts | 1994 | MS-DOS.

Mechanized Attack | SNK Corp of America | 1990 | NES.

Mega Man 2 | Capcom USA | 1989 | NA ver. | NES. (2)

Megafortress | Three-Sixty Pacific | 1991 | Amiga, MS-DOS.

Minnesota Fats’ Pool Challenge | Hesware | 1984 | NA ver. | Commodore 64.

Ocean Ranger | Activision | 1988 | Commodore 64, MS-DOS.

Operation Crusader | The Avalon Hill Game Company | 1994 | Macintosh, MS-DOS.

Operation Neptune | The Learning Co | 1991 | Macintosh, MS-DOS, Windows, Windows 3.x.

Operation Whirlwind | Broderbund | 1984 | Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64.

Overrun! | SSI | 1989 | Amiga, Apple II, Commodore 64.

P.O.W.: Prisoners of War | SNK  Corp of America | 1989 | NES.

Racing Aces | Sega | 1993 | Sega CD.

Red Lightning | SSI | 1989 | Amiga, Atari ST, MS-DOS.

Scorpion | Tronix Publishing | 1983 | VIC-20.

Seafox | Broderbund Software | 1982 | Apple II, Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64, VIC-20.

Shark Trap | Broderbund Software | 1982 | BBC Micro, Electron, VIC-20, ZX Spectrum.

Sidewinder | Tronix Publishing | 1982 | VIC-20.

Space Harrier | Sega | 1991 | EU/ NA ver. | Game Gear, Sega 32X..

Spare Change | Broderbund | 1983 | NA ver. | Apple II, Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64.

Spellicopter | DesignWare | 1983 | Apple II, Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64, PC Booter.

Star Blazer | Broderbund Software | 1982 | Apple II, Atari 8-bit, MSX, VIC-20.

Steel Empire, The | Flying Edge | 1992 | NA ver. | Genesis.

Steel Talons | Atari | 1992 | Lynx.

Stellar Shuttle | Broderbund | 1982 | Atari 8-bit.

Strider | Capcom USA | 1989 | NES. (3)

Strike Gunner S.T.G | NTV International Corp | 1992 | NA ver. | SNES.

Suicide Strike | Tronix Publishing | 1983 | Commodore 64.

Super Baseball 2020 | EA | 1994 | Genesis, Mega Drive.

Swarm! | Tronix Publishing | 1982 | VIC-20.

Tempo Jr. | Sega | 1995 | EU/ NA ver. | Game Gear.

Tetris | Tengen | 1988 | NES.

Thunder Force 2 | Sega | 1989 | EU/ NA ver. | Genesis, Mega Drive.

Track Attack! | Broderbund Software | 1982 | Apple II, Atari 8-bit.

Turtle Toyland Jr | HesWare | 1983 | Commodore 64.

Typhoon of Steel | SSI | 1988 | Amiga, Apple II, Commodore 64, MS-DOS.

V for Victory: Battleset 1 - D-day Utah Beach – 1944 | Three-Sixty Pacific | 1991 | Macintosh, MS-DOS.

V for Victory: Gold-Juno Sword | Three-Sixty Pacific | 1993 | Macintosh, MS-DOS.

V for Victory: Market Garden | Three-Sixty Pacific | 1993 | Macintosh, MS-DOS.

V for Victory: Velikiye Luki | Three-Sixty Pacific | 1992 | Macintosh, MS-DOS.

Vigilante | Data East | 1989 | Commodore 64.

Vindicators | Tengen | 1988 | NES.

World at War: Volume II – Stalingrad | The Avalon Hill Game Company | 1995 | Macintosh, MS-DOS.

Xybots | Atari | 1991 | Lynx.




>Box art catalogue

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>Gallery

    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

Directory - 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

Matt Hall.  North American box artist from 1999-2003.


Medal of Honor | EA | 1999 | PS1. (1)

Medal of Honor: Frontline | EA | 2002 | GameCube, PS2, Xbox. (2)

Medal of Honor: Underground | EA | 2000 | Game Boy Advance, PS1. (3)

Secret Weapons Over Normandy | LucasArts | 2003 | PS2, Windows, Xbox. (4)





Matt would study fine art at Missouri Southern State University and took inspiration from the likes of NC Wyeth, Normal Rockwell and Frederic Remington. The artist would get his break into video game box art through his time at DreamWorks Studios, working as an art director on many of the company’s film and video game projects.  

>Artist profile

>Box art catalogue

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>Gallery

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Metroid.  Nintendo video game series from 1986-2017.

Metroid | Nintendo | 1986 | JPN ver. | by Hiroji Kiyotake | Game Boy Advance, Nintendo Disk System. (1)

Metroid | Nintendo | 1987 | EU/ NA ver. | Game Boy Advance, NES.

Metroid | Nintendo | 1988 | EU ver. | NES.

Metroid (Classic Series) | Nintendo | 1992 | NA ver. | NES.

Metroid II: Return of Samus | Nintendo | 1991 | Game Boy.

Metroid Fusion | Nintendo | 2002 | EU/ NA ver. | by Sano Shinyo | Game Boy Advance. (2)

Metroid Fusion | Nintendo | 2003 | JPN ver. | by Sano Shinyo | Game Boy Advance.

Metroid: Other M | Nintendo | 2010 | EU/ NA ver. | Nintendo Wii. (3)

Metroid: Other M | Nintendo | 2010 | JPN ver. | Nintendo Wii.

Metroid Prime | Nintendo | 2002 | EU/ NA ver. | by Andrew Jones & Jean Kohlor | GameCube. (4)

Metroid Prime | Nintendo | 2003 | JPN ver. | by Andrew Jones & Jean Kohlor | GameCube.

Metroid Prime 2: Echoes | Nintendo | 2004 | EU/ NA ver. | by Andrew Jones & Leroy Strauss | GameCube.

Metroid Prime 2: Echoes | Nintendo | 2004 | JPN ver. | by Andrew Jones & Leroy Strauss | GameCube.

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption | Nintendo | 2007 | EU/ NA ver. | Nintendo Wii.

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption | Nintendo | 2008 | JPN ver. | Nintendo Wii.

Metroid Prime: Federation Force | Nintendo | 2016 | EU/ NA ver. | by Chris Turcotte & Alden Phipps | 3DS. (5)

Metroid Prime: Federation Force | Nintendo | 2016 | JPN ver. | by Chris Turcotte & Alden Phipps | 3DS.

Metroid Prime: Hunters | Nintendo | 2006 | EU/ NA ver. | by Kunitake Aoki | Nintendo DS.

Metroid Prime: Hunters | Nintendo | 2007 | JPN ver. | by Kunitake Aoki | Nintendo DS.

Metroid Prime Pinball | Nintendo | 2005 | Nintendo DS.

Metroid Prime: Trilogy | Nintendo | 2009 | Nintendo Wii.

Metroid: Samus Returns | Nintendo | 2017 | 3DS. (6)

Metroid: Samus Returns - Legacy Edition | Nintendo | 2017 | 3DS.

Metroid: Zero Mission | Nintendo | 2004 | EU/ NA ver. | Game Boy Advance.

Metroid: Zero Mission | Nintendo | 2004 | JPN ver. | Game Boy Advance. (7)

Super Metroid (スーパーメトロイド) | Nintendo | 1994 | EU/ NA ver. | SNES.












>Video game series catalogue

Metal Gear.  Konami video game series from 1987-2016.

Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake | Konami | 1990 | by Yoshiyuki Takani | MSX. (2)

Metal Gear Ac!d | Konami | 2004 | JPN ver. | by Tsubasa Masao | Sony PSP.

Metal Gear Ac!d | Konami | 2005 | EU/ NA ver. | by Tsubasa Masao | Sony PSP.

Metal Gear Ac!d 2 | Konami | 2005 | JPN/ NA ver. | by Tsubasa Masao | Sony PSP.

Metal Gear Ac!d 2 | Konami | 2006 | EU ver | by Tsubasa Masao | Sony PSP. (3)

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance | Konami | 2013 | JPN ver. | PS3, Xbox 360.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance | Konami | 2013 | EU/ NA ver. | PS3 Xbox 360.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance - Special Edition | Konami | 2013 | by Yoji Shinkawa | PS3.

Metal Gear Solid (メタルギアソリッド) | Konami | 1998 | JPN/ NA ver. | PS1.










Metal Gear Solid (メタルギアソリッド) | Konami | 2000 | NA ver. | by Yoji Shinkawa | Game Boy Color.

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty | Konami | 2001 | EU/ NA ver. | by Yoji Shinkawa | PS2.

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty | Konami | 2001 | JPN ver. | by Yoji Shinkawa | PS2.

Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance | Konami | 2002 | by Yoji Shinkawa | PS2, Windows, Xbox.

Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance | Konami | 2002 | NA ver. | by Yoji Shinkawa | Xbox.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater | Konami | 2004 | JPN ver. | by Yoji Shinkawa | PS2.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater | Konami | 2004 | NA ver. | by Yoji Shinkawa | PS2.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater | Konami | 2005 | EU ver. | by Yoji Shinkawa | PS2.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistance | Konami | 2005 | by Yoji Shinkawa | PS2.

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots | Konami | 2008 | JPN/ NA ver. | PS3.

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots | Konami | 2008 | EU ver. | by Yoji Shinkawa | PS3.

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots - Special Edition | Konami | 2008 | by Yoji Shinkawa | PS3.

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeros | Konami | 2014 | JPN ver. | by Takeya Inguchi | PS3, PS4, Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One.

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeros | Konami | 2014 | EU/ NA ver. | by Takeya Inguchi | PS3, PS4, Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One.









Metal Gear Solid V: The Definitive Experience | Konami | 2016 | JPN ver | by Takeya Inguchi |PS4, Windows, Xbox One.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain | Konami | 2015 | by Takeya Inguchi | PS3, PS4, Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One.

Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection (Limited Edition) | Konami | 2011 | by Yoji Shinkawa | PS3, Xbox.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker | Konami | 2010 | JPN ver. | Sony PSP.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker | Konami | 2010 | EU/ NA ver. | Sony PSP.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker HD Edition | Konami | 2011 | JPN ver. | PS3, Xbox.

Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops | Konami | 2006 | JPN ver. | Sony PSP.

Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops | Konami | 2006 | NA ver. | Sony PSP.

Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops | Konami | 2007 | EU ver. | Sony PSP.

Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops Plus | Konami | 2007. | Sony PSP.

Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D | Konami | 2012 | EU/ NA ver. | 3DS.

Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D | Konami | 2012 | JPN ver. | 3DS.

Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes  | Konami | 2004 | EU/ JPN ver. | by Yoji Shinkawa | GameCube. (6)

Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes  | Konami | 2004 | NA ver. | GameCube.

Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions | Konami | 1999 | NA ver. | by Yoji Shinkawa | PS1. (7)

Snake’s Revenge | Ultra Software | 1990 | by Tom Dubois | NES. (8)




Metal Gear Solid (メタルギアソリッド) | Konami | 1999 | EU ver. | by Yoji Shinkawa | PS1.

This box art would be the first in the Metal Gear series to launch Yoji distinctive style of character art that would proliferate box arts up until Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (2008). The artwork was likely designed using a Pentel Brush Pen and exibits the artist’s freeflowing style of brush work. The character art likeness was inspired by actor Christopher Walken.

Japan and the US would instead get a plain cover and title - a rather missed opportunity.   

Metal Gear (メタルギア) | Konami | 1987 | Commodore 64, Famicom, GameCube, MS-DOS, MSX, NES. (1)

The debut box art for the Metal Gear series. The character art would be modelled on a Carl Reece scene from the movie, The Terminator, adding an obvious western appeal that probably played a part in the games success in the West. The “G.I Joe” character art would surface again for unofficial wetsern sequel Snake’s Revenge (1990, by Tom Dubois), but Japan would drop it for it’s official sequel in favour of a painterly effort by Yoshiuki Takani (Metal Gear: Solid Snake, 1990)

The box art would get a Japanese exclusive re-release when it was included in the Gamecube’s Metal Gear: Twin Snakes console pack.

>Box art catalogue

>Gallery

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Metal Gear Solid (Metal Gear: Ghost Babel) | Konami | 2000 | EU/ JPN ver. | by Yoji Shinkawa | Game Boy Color. (4)

Character designer Yoji would take a more anime/ cartooned approch to the Game Boy Color’s ‘Solid’ game, arguably targetng Nintendo’s younger gamers (as was often the case when more mature games received Game Boy versions).

North America would receive a more traditional take on Yoji’s Solid Snake.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Definitive Experience | Konami | 2016 | by Pablo Uchida | PS4, Xbox One. (5)

Paying homage to the classic movie poster montage (popularised by the Blaxploitation subgenre of the 1970’s and still used today for the likes of the Star Wars series and the Marvel cinematic universe), Pablo’s cover oozes explosive beauty, through character heavy detailing and striking colour. Cool grey tones colour protagonist Snake as he merges into Metal Gear Sahelanthropus, a subtle reinforcement of the symbiotic relationship between Snake’s and Gears.  Only to be jarringly cut by the game’s roster intent on injecting vivid colour and chaos.

The artwork was originally designed to promote the Japanese release of The Phantom Pain in 2015, where its deliberate movie poster quality stood out all the more and pronounced the horse’s symbolic flaming V to fuller effect.  

Japan’s box art version is worth noting.  Taking Takeya Inguchi’s original Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain cover, it near destroys all colour and fills Snake’s head with characters as if to illustrate the burdening weight his mind carries.

Melvyn Grant.  English box artist from 1988-1990.


Anarchy | Psyclapse | 1990 | Amiga, Atari ST.











Captain Fizz Meets the Blaster-Trons | Psyclapse | 1988 | Amiga, Atari ST, BBC Micro, Commodore 64, Electron, ZX Spectrum.





The famed Sci-fi and fantasy painter who is probably best known for his Iron Maiden cover arts, would have his work reused as box art under Psygnosis’ sister publisher Psyclapse.  All four known box arts were originally commissioned elsewhere, and other than Baal were cover arts for novels.  

Melvyn’s style of art would add a somewhat dark-fantasy look to Psygnosis’ box art catalogue and would sit comfortably alongside the likes of Roger Dean and Peter Andrew Jones’ artworks. All four covers were painted in oils on canvas.

Baal | Psyclapse | 1988 | Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, MS DOS. (1)

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.

>Artist profile

>Box art catalogue

>Gallery

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Ballistix | Psyclapse | 1989 | Amiga, Atari ST, BBC Micro, Commodore 64, Electron, MS DOS, PC Engine.  (2)

In keeping with many of Psygnosis’ box arts, Melvyn’s art was reissued having been originally designed for sci-fi novel ‘The Steel Tzar’ by Michael Moorcock (1981) - of which the cover gets its name - and then later as cover art for Judas Priest LP ‘Rocka Rolla’ (reissue ver. 1987).

The artwork would be used across the globe and its use in Japan would end up being one of only a handful by Psygnosis to make it East.


Mega Drive/ Genesis.  Sega hardware from 1988-1998.


Alien Storm | Sega | 1991 | JPN ver. | by Yoshiaki Yoneshima.

Altered Beast | Sega | 1988 | by Michiaki Satoh. (1)

Castlevania: Bloodlines | Konami | 1994 | NA ver. | by Tom Dubois.







Eternal Champions | Sega | 1993 | by Julie Bell. (2)

Fatal Rewind | Psygnosis | 1991. | by Roger Dean.

Final Zone | Renovation Products | 1990 | Haruhiko Mikimoto.

Frogger | Sega | 1998.

Ghouls ‘n Ghosts | Konami | 1989 | by Yuji Kaida.

Golden Axe | Sega | 1989 | EU/ JPN ver. | by Yoshiaki Yoneshima.

Golden Axe II | Sega | 1991 | EU/ NA ver. | by Boris Vallejo.

Gunstar Heroes | Sega | 1993 | JPN ver. | by HAN. (3)

Hardball! | Accolade | 1991 | NA ver. | by Julie Bell.

Hybrid Front, The | Sega | 1994 | by Jun Suemi.

John Madden Football | Electronic Arts | 1990 | EU ver. | by David John Rowe.

John Madden Football | Electronic Arts | 1990 | NA ver. (4)

Shadow Dancer | Sega | 1990 | JPN ver. | by Jun Satoh.






Sonic the Hedgehog 2 | Sega | 1992 | EU/ NA ver. | by Greg Martin.

Street Fighter II: Special Champion Edition | Capcom | 1993 | EU/ JPN ver. | by Shoei. (6)

Streets of Rage | Sega | 1991 | EU/ NA ver. | by Greg Winters. (7)

Super Aquatic Games, The | Electronic Arts | 1992. | by David John Rowe.

Super Thunderblade | Sega | 1988. | by Yoshiaki Yoneshima. (8)






Sega’s 16-bit console would launch in Japan at the end of 1988 but would struggle in its home country as the all dominating Nintendo Famicom and NEC’s PC Engine cornered consumer interest. Sega anticipating the brand strength of the Famicom - and the NES in the North American and Europe - took a different marketing approach in Japan, with the Mega Drive instead aimed at a wider age demographic (children - adults) than Nintendo’s pre-teen market. This would be reflected in the console’s sleek, black design, inspired by high-end audio equipment and high performence cars, and also the heavy duty plastic game casings, mimicking VHS cases.  

Launch games, Space Harrier II and Super Thunderblade would be cherry picked from Sega’s arcade department and ported across. The box arts reflected 80’s arcade art and deliberatly appealed to older gamers who were influenced by the decades Hollywood action movies, as well as both Eastern and Western popular culture.

Both box arts would also start a trend that would only be adopted in Japan, whereby the artwork on the front cover would seemlessly carry onto the back. It created a wonderful panoramic design that allowed for a greater immersion into the game’s world and lore. Additionally, both covers would be realised across the globe, carrying on Sega of Japan’s tradition of designing box arts that translated well with western audiences (Sega’s first console the SG-1000 saw many of it’s Japanese covers being released in Europe and Australasia).

In North America the newly coined Genesis launched in mid-1989 and would be a bona fide hit. It was helped along by Sega of America’s stratagy of releasing licenced sporting titles with well known sporting celebrity endorsements, alongside the company’s arcade hits. These early covers up until 1990 would be a mix of Japanese original artworks and photo or portrait art of sporting heroes.

1990 saw many third-party publishers release games, with the highest profile being Electronic Arts’ debut in the John Madden Football series (Nov, 1990). Again, photo art of the man himself as box art was used, drawing ever closer Genesis and home-video marketing stratagies. Sega’s Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse (Dec, 1990) would start the publishers prolific line of Disney inspired video games with box arts by Disney and Hanna Barbera artists upping the quality of cover art design beyond that of the previous 8-bit generations. Other artists that also contributed to the more professional and mature attitude towards box art design included Boris Vallejo (Golden Axe II), Julie Bell (Hardball!), Greg Martin (Sonic the Hedgehog 2), Greg Winters (Streets of Rage), Tom Dubois (Castlevania: Bloodlines) and Marc William Ericksen (Thunder Force 2).

1991 would be the Mega Drive and Sega’s turn around year when they released the first game in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. The character would have very much in mind the North American market in how it was designed, taking many clues from the country’s golden-age animation characters (Mickey, Betty Boop, Felix). Sonic’s massive appeal pushed the Mega Drive ten-fold and helped start the era’s love for the latest anthropomorphic mascot.

In Europe the Mega Drive launched (1990) with the box arts it’s Genesis courterpart did. As was typical of the period, European publishers would use there own covers in the territory but many wouldn’t translate well with Japan (the same can also be applied to North America) and would be replaced. Japanese games published in Europe could either have the original Japanese box art or the North American version. Europe in general was more receptive to Japanese box art than the States (a good example can be found in Street Fighter II: Special Championship Edition).

The final official box art in Japan was Madou Monogatari I (1996) and in North America it was Frogger (1998) whose CG art was a little used design choice throughout the console’s history.      






>Notable box art catalogue 1988-1998

>Box art history

>Gallery

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Ecco the Dolphin (エコー・ザ・ドルフィン) | Sega | 1992 | EU/ NA ver. | by Boris Vallejo  | Genesis, Game Gear, Mega CD, Mega Drive, Master System, Windows.

This stunning high fantasy box arts would help push Sega’s Mega Drive towards a maturer audience in the early 90’s, Ecco being a classic example. When comparing Sega of Japan’s equivalent box art you can see that they and Sega of America had different ideas on the age they were marketing to. Ecco in the East was for pre-teen children, with its light-anime look and cheerful disposition, whilst Ecco in the West was for teenagers, eschewing the cartooned 90’s characterisation this type of box art often portrayed.

The cover art is classic Vallejo with its large, glossy, highly detailed protagonists, painted in oils.

The game’s success led to further entries with Boris creating all North American box arts in the series.


Sonic the Hedgehog (ソニック・ザ・ヘッジホッグ) | Sega Enterprise Ltd. | 1991 | EU/ JPN ver. | by Akira Watanabe | Game Gear, Master System, Mega Drive. (5)

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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Super Metroid (スーパーメトロイド) | Nintendo | 1994 | JPN ver. | Super Famicom. (8)

At first glance it looks as though the Samus character art on the Super Famicom cover was superimposed onto a new background for the SNES release.  The original SNES sketch (likely drawn by a North Amercan artist) shows that the cover was actually designed from the ground up with the SNES case’s horizontal dimensions taken into account.

The Super Famicom version would arguably better convey the game’s grand scope and aching isolation.


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