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 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.


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: N - No

Artist index: Na - No



BOX=ART index

 >N

Naoyuki Katoh.  Japanese box artist from 1988-1993.

Gdleen : Digan no Maseki | Artec | 1989.

Ginga Eiyū Densetsu II: Space War Simulation | Bothec Inc. | 1990.

Guardian Legend, The | IREM | 1988.

Laser Squad - Uchuu Kaiheitai | C2 Bros | 1993.

Legion | Telenet Japan Co. | 1990.

R-Type | IREM Corp. | 1988.

Super Aleste | Toho Co. | 1992 | JPN ver.






Natsuki Sumeragi.  Japanese box artist from 1998-1999.

Sokaigi | Squaresoft | 1998.

Xuanyuan Jian 3: Yun he Shan de Bi Duan | Softstar Entertainment | 1999.





N-Sub (N-サブ).

Published by Sega in 1983 for the global SG-1000/ SG-3000 markets.




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>N-Sub would be a launch title for Sega’s first console the SG-1000. The style of box art looks like it was influenced by early Atari VCS covers, with a design that is painterly, cluttered and action packed. This style would interestingly be at odds with the newly released Famicom’s box art which were bold, bright and arguably more fun.

The box design shown is the Australian version, distinctive due to it’s red lettering and smallish artwork.  The same artwork was used globally with no alterations made and is one of the earliest Japanese cover arts in the West.

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NewZealand Story, The by Bob Wakelin.

English artwork. Published by Ocean Software in 1989 for European market.  

NES ver. pictured.  Also availble on: Amiga, Atari ST, C64, ZX Spectrum.




>Bob Wakelin’s The NewZealand Story would take the colour and chaos of Japanese box art and place it firmly in European hands. Taking inspiration from the original arcade flyer by developer Taito, Bob would make it his own capturing the game’s bedlam and rich characterisation perfectly.

The cover art was created using airbrush and India ink and has Bob’s trademark defined outlines and movie poster finish.  He has gone on record to say that these character-heavy box arts (along with titles such as Rainbow Islands and Parasol Stars) were rather boring to do due to the length of time it took to plan and create them.  With this in mind it is all the more impressive that he created such a fine box art capturing the game’s essence with a rare sensitivity to Japanese artwork.    

Bob’s version ended up bettering all other cover art depictions (and there are many), and is one of the most recognisable and memorable of it’s era.


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No Man’s Sky by Simon Stålenhag.

Swedish artwork. Published by Hello Games globally in 2016.  

PS4 ver. pictured.  Also availble on: Windows.




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>In a box art age where gloomy and tepid tones are awash, No Man’s Sky’s palette, pleasingly, bucks the trend and proves that a little colour can go a long way.

Designed by Swedish born Simon Stålenhag, in what appears to be his debut box art, No Man’s Sky’s epic scale, otherworldliness and blending of technology and life enacts a sci-fi scene that encourages exploration and the arousal of curiosity.

The colours vibrantly lift the landscape daring to push us further into the alien world, but manage to be tasteful and complimentary to each other.

Simon’s gifting for landscape art would make him a great choice; the artist also responsible for in-game concept art .

>Pictured from top - Original box art and wallpaper version.

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No More Heroes (ノーモア★ヒーローズ Nō Moa Hīrōzu) by Yusuke Kozaki.

Japanese artwork. Published by Marvelous Entertainment in 2007 for the European and Japanese Wii markets.  



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Night Driver by Steve Hendricks.

North American artwork. Published by Atari in 1980 for the European and North American Atari VCS markets.   



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No More Heroes 2: Desparate Struggle (ノーモア★ヒーローズ 2: デスパレート・ストラグル) by Yusuke Kozaki.

Japanese artwork. Published by Marvelous Entertainment in 2010 for the Japanese Wii market.  



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Nao Q (Naohisa Yamaguchi). Japanese box artist from 1991-2000.

Metal Slug 2nd Mission | SNK | 2000.

Puzzled | SNK | 1991.

Top Hunter: Roddy & Cathy | SNK | 1994.




Naohisa Yamaguchi - see Nao Q.

NAM-1975 (グリーンベレー).

First published by SNK in 1990 and for the North American and Japanese markets.

Neo Geo AES ver. pictured. Also available on: Neo Geo CD.



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>NAM-1975 would help launch the Neo Geo in Japan and the US with both regions shipping with the same cover.  

The cover would be cause mild controversy with some western distributors who took offence with the gun-wielding woman’s clevage and exposed thigh. They would go to the extreme’s of covering up the offending art with black pen on both the box and cart.

The artwork is a great example of the bombastic and grandeous art designs that Neo Geo AES games have famously become known for. It displays a truely Hollywood movie poster look, with a impressive use of color, plus light and shade.

The character art and the use of a biped-mech in the background points towards a Japanese artist designing it.

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Hardware index: Ne

Publisher series index: Ni



Top

Neo Geo AES.  SNK hardware from 1990-2004.

In 1990 the Neo Geo AES exploded onto the Japanese and North American video game scenes (it didn’t make it to Europe), bringing with it the most power gaming hardware you could play at the time and a wealth of rich character led cover arts.

Neo Geo’s first year would see many of its Japanese designed games release in America and rather impressively all hit the States with their original Japanese box arts. It started with Ghost Pilots (1991, by Marc William Ericksen) that SNK of American began to out source cover art duties to American artists (also see, Fatal Fury by Robert Motzkus) but in general the original eastern artworks would still prevail - uncommon for the era.

Ghost Pilots (JPN ver) and Sengoku (1991) would be the first covers to be designed by long term SNK artist Shinkiro (now an artist for Capcom). The artist would by far and away be the most used illustrator for cover art duties within SNK’s art team. His distinct penciling line work, along with hyper-realistic and anime styled character arts would make him a hit with gamers then and now. His final cover for the company would be 2000’s Metal Slug 3.



With the system playing host to a majority of fighting games it is unsurprising that character led covers populated Neo Geo releases. Some of Japan’s brightest character designers such as Shinkiro, TONKO, Eiji Shiroi and Falcoon would all cut their teeth on SNK properties.

Box arts from the first half of the 90’s were likely designed using traditional media and then much of the rest of Neo Geo’s catalogue being made up of digital art compositions,with a few CG designed covers (see, Pulstar, Overtop, both 1996 and Blazing Star, 1998).

With the games coming on large cartridges meant large cases. North American cases would ship with a thick black boarder and coloured strips, with the game’s amount of ‘megs’ proudly displayed in the lower left corner. Japanese cases would do away with borders and use the circular Neo Geo logo.   

The final cover for the system would be Samurai Shodown V Special (2004).  A typically confident and bold effort but arguably not the best the series offered.

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>Notable and influencial Neo Geo AES box arts.

3 Count Bout | SNK | 1993 | by Shinkiro.

Alpha Mission II | SNK USA | 1991 | NA ver | by Marc William Ericksen. (6)

Art of Fighting | SNK | 1992 | by Shinkiro.

ASO II: Last Guardian | SNK | 1991 | by Shinkiro.

Burning Fight | SNK | 1991 | by Shinkiro.

Cyber-Lip | SNK | 1990.

Double Dragon | Technos Japan | 1995 | by Tsuguyuki Kubo.

Eightman | SNK | 1991 | by Shinkiro.

Fatal Fury | SNK | 1991 | JPN ver | by Shinkiro.

Fatal Fury | SNK America Corp | 1991 | NA ver | by Robert Motzcus. (3)

Fatal Fury 3: Road to the Final Victory | SNK | 1995 | by Shinkiro.

Garou: Mark of the Wolves | SNK | 1999 | by TONKO.

Ghost Pilots | SNK | 1991 | JPN ver | by Shinkiro. (2)

Ghost Pilots | SNK | 1991 | NA ver | by Marc William Ericksen.

King of Fighters ‘94 | SNK | 1994 | by Shinkiro. (5)

Last Blade, The | SNK | 1998 | by Shinkiro.

Magician Lord | SNK | 1990.

Metal Slug | SNK | 1996.

Metal Slug 2 | SNK | 1998 | by Higuchita.

Metal Slug 3 | SNK | 2000 | by Shinkiro.

Metal Slug 5 | SNK Playmore Corp | 2003 | by TONKO.

NAM-1975 | SNK | 1990. (4)

Ninja Master’s | ADK | 1996.

Pulstar | SNK | 1995.

Puzzled | SNK | 1991 | by Nao Q.

Robo Army | SNK | 1991 | by Shinkiro. (1)

Samurai Shodown | SNK | 1993 | by Shinkiro.

Samurai Shodown III: Blades of Blood | SNK | 1995 | by Eiji Shiroi. (7)

Samurai Shodown V Special | Yuki | 2004.

Shin Gōketsuji Ichizoku Tōkon: Matrimelee | SNK Playmore | 2003 | by Range Murta.

SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos | SNK Playmore | 2003 | by Falcoon.

Top Hunter: Roddy & Cathy | SNK | 1994 | bu Nao Q. (8)

Twinkle Star Sprites | ADK | 1996 | by Mimoli Fujinomiya.








Nigel Fletcher.  English box artist from 1986-1989.

ATV Simulator | Codemasters | 1987.

Blade Warrior | Codemasters | 1988 | with Liz Darling.

BMX Freestyle | Codemasters | 1989.

BMX Simulator 2 | Codemasters | 1989.

Death Stalker | Codemasters | 1989.

Dizzy the Ultimate Cartoon Adventure | Codemasters | 1987.

Fast Food | Codemasters | 1989.

International Rugby Simulator | Codemasters | 1988.

Mig-29 Soviet Fighter | Codemasters | 1989.

Moto X Simulator | Codemasters | 1989.

Mission Jupiter | Codemasters | 1987.

Ninja Massacre | Codemasters | 1989.

Poltergeist | Codemasters | 1988.

Race Against Time, The | Codemasters | 1988.

SAS Combat Simulator | Codemasters | 1989.

Star Runner | Codemasters | 1987.

Super G-Man | Codemasters | 1987.

Terra Cognita | Codemasters | 1986.

Treasure Island Dizzy | Codemasters | 1988.

Vampire | Codemasters | 1986.




Noriyoshi Ohrai.  Japanese box artist from 1986-1996.

The artist would study oil painting at the Tokyo University of Fine art and Music in the mid-50’s, before dropping out and embarking on his illustration career. He’d start out as a cover artist for various novels and designed advertisement art for local newspapers throughout the 1960’s.  In 1973 Noriyoshi designed his first movie poster, The Sinking of Japan.  It would be the start of a long and prolific career in the movie business that would turn him into an internationally known artist through his works for the Star Wars and Godzilla franchises.  

His first video game box arts would be reused movie posters for The Goonies and King Kong 2 (both Konami, 1986); he’d shortly after start his career with KOEI designing the cover for Genghis Khan (1987).  His cover arts for KOEI - much like his film posters - would all be painterly, bold in their use of colour and character led with worn, etched facial features.  His preparation for all his artworks was meticulous and would give an authenticity to his box arts, that along with his masterful style of art, proved globally appealing - to the point where not one of his artworks was replaced with another artists when KOEI published overseas.

His final cover, Teitoku no Ketsudan (1996), was a Japan only release.  Post-millennium, Noriyoshi worked with Konami designing the incredible posters that came with the Japanese Metal Gear Solid premium packages (from 2001-2006). He’d design a promotional poster for the PS3 version of Ni-oh (2005) and his final video game illustration was in 2012 for Konami’s Zone of the Enders HD.

Noriyoshi passed away in 2015, leaving one of the art world’s great legacies.

Bandit Kings of Ancient China | KOEI | 1989.

Gemfire | KOEI | 1991.

Genghis Khan | KOEI | 1987.

Genghis Khan II: Clan of the Grey Wolf | KOEI | 1992.

Genpei Gassen | KOEI | 1994.

Godzilla 2: War of the Monsters | Toho | 1991.

Goonies, The | Konami | 1986.

Inindo: Way of the Ninja | KOEI | 1991.

Ishin no Arashi | KOEI | 1988 | PC-88 ver.

Kamigami no Daichi Kojiki Gaiden | KOEI | 1993.

King Kong 2: Yomigaeru Densetsu | Konami | 1986.

L'Empereur | KOEI | 1990.

Liberty or Death | KOEI | 1993.

New Horizons | KOEI | 1993.

Nobunaga’s Ambition II | KOEI | 1988.

Nobunaga’s Ambition: Lord of Darkness | KOEI | 1990.

Nobunaga no Yabō: Haōden | KOEI | 1992.

Nobunaga no Yabō: Tenshōki | KOEI | 1994.

Operation Europe: Path to Victory 1939-1945 | KOEI | 1991.

P.T.O.: Pacific Theater of Operations | KOEI | 1989.

P.T.O.: Pacific Theater of Operations II | KOEI | 1993.

Rise of the Phoenix | KOEI | 1993.

Romance of the three Kingdoms II | KOEI | 1989.

Romance of the three Kingdoms III: Dragon of Destiny | KOEI | 1992.

Romance of the three Kingdoms IV: Wall of Fire | KOEI | 1994.

Taikō Risshiden | KOEI | 1992.

Taikō Risshiden II | KOEI | 1995.

Teitoku no Ketsudan III | KOEI | 1996.

Uncharted Waters | KOEI | 1990.




>Notable and influencial Nintendo published box arts from 1983-1989.

All Night Nippon Super Mario Bros. | 1986 | by Shigeru Miyamoto.

Devil World | 1984. (7)

Donkey Kong | 1983 | JPN ver. (1)

Legend of Zelda, The | 1986 | JPN Disk System ver.

Legend of Zelda, The | 1987 | EU/ NA NES ver | by GIRVIN. (6)

Mario Bros. | 1983 | EU/ JPN ver.

Metroid | 1986 | EU/ JPN ver | Disk System ver | by Hiroji Kiyotake. (5)

Popeye | 1983 | EU/ JPN ver. (2)

Slalom | 1987 | by Tim Stamper.

Super Mario Bros. | 1985 | EU/ JPN ver | by Shigeru Miyamoto. (3)

Super Mario Bros. | 1985 | EU/ NA ver. (4)

Super Mario Bros. 2 | 1988 | EU/ NA ver.

Super Mario Bros. 3 | 1988 | EU/ JPN ver | by Yoiche Kotabe.

Super Mario Land | 1989 | by Yoiche Kotabe. (8)

Tetris | 1989 | Game Boy/ NES ver.




Nintendo.  Publisher years 1983-1989.

Nintendo of Japan’s (NOJ) debut console the Family Computer (Famicom) alongside Sega’s first the SG-1000 (both released the same day) would herald the beginning of Japan’s home video game box art scene proper. Before, some early Japanese home computer video games were being published - mainly adventure/ RPG’s - along with a handful of American imports (see the Epoch/ Atari 2600 and Commodore MAX ranges), but the scene was more a hobbyist one and in its infancy. NOJ’s Famicom would bring home gaming to the masses and captivate a nation of young people with their diminutive cases and brightly designed box arts.  

Debut games Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr and Popeye (all 1983) would all be published by NOJ and were designed with distinctively clean and colourful character arts that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a 1950’s Archie comic. NOJ would adopt this style of art design and overall box layout (an early range of games coined the ‘pulse-line’ series because of the pulse-line art decal used on the cartridges) up until 1984’s Devil World when artworks could now be more painterly efforts. In general through, much of NOJ’s published cover arts (and many third-party box arts also) stuck to the bright and simple cartooned look throughout 1984 and up until late 1985.

Super Mario Bros. shipped in September 1985 and proved to be a cultural revolution in design and branding. It’s Japanese/ European cover by Shigeru Miyamoto also broke the mould with the Mushroom kingdom’s characters bursting across it, all scrambling for attention. This cluttered character showcasing style of art would be seen time and time again on Japanese box arts (see, Rockman, Ghost’s ‘n Goblins and Street Fighter series).



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NOJ in 1986 released the Famicom Disk System and much of the publishers output in Japan to the end of the decade would end up on the add-on (see, Metroid, The Legend of Zelda, Super Maro Bros. The Lost Levels, and Kid Icarus). Casings were smaller than the Famicoms and more square shaped. Notable and exclusive Famicom box arts from 1986-1989 included Punch-Out!, Super Mario Bros. 3 and Mother.

Also in 1985 Nintendo released the NES  on the US market and single handedly helped kickstart that regions video game industry after its collapse in ‘83. To differenuate NES games from other American ones (Atari 2600, Intellivion etc...) Nintendo of America (NOA) would come up with the iconic pixel box art design that proliferated Nintendo’s first and second party outputs from 1985 until 1987’s Rad Racer. These early box arts were key in explaining to initial adopters exactly would kind of game they were purcahsing. You had a graphical example, the type of game listed and the famous Nintendo Seal of Quality emblazened in gold - authenticaing the product as of Nintendo quality.

NOA started to move away from this design style with The Legend of Zelda’s iconic box art being the first (1987 by design and marketing studio GIRVIN), and in doing so started to compete with the other Japanese publisher’s US subsidiaries such as, Data East, Capcom, Bandai and Konami who since late 1986 had been producing their own western friendly box arts.  

Nintendo of Europe debuted the NES in late 1986. Early video game releases would interestingly adopt both NOA’s ‘pixel-art’ covers for countries such as the UK and France, and NOJ’s original ‘pulse-line’ box arts for Germany and Spain (also Hong Kong). The latter came in smaller black boxes with added shading and colour to the original Famicom artworks. Devil World (1987) has the distinction of being the only western release to not get a ‘pixel-art’ cover.

At the end of 1989 Nintendo released the Game Boy in Japan and North America. Notably, Yoiche Kotabe’s Super Mario Land cover (1989) would be the first Nintendo published game to see a global release without any changes made to it.


Nosferatu (ノスフェラトゥ) by Jun Suemi.

Japanese artwork. Published by SETA in 1994 for the Japanese and North American markets.

Super Famicom ver. pictured. Also available on: SNES.  



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