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BOX=ART copyright © 2013-2019 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.
Artist index: Oli - Oll
Cabal | 1989 | EU ver. | by Bob Wakelin | Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum.
Chinese Juggler | 1983 | EU ver. | by Bob Wakelin | Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum.
Cosmic Intruders | 1983 | ZX Spectrum.
Daley Thompson’s Decathlon | 1984 | by Bob Wakelin | Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum.
Donkey Kong | 1986 | EU ver. | by Zavier Leslie Cabarga | Commodore 64, MSX, ZX Spectrum. (6)
Frankie Goes to Hollywood | 1985 | by Bob Wakelin | Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum. (1)
Gilligan’s Gold | 1983 | by Bob Wakelin & Blair | ZX Spectrum.
Green Beret | 1986 | EU ver. | by Bob Wakelin | Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, MSX, ZX Spectrum. (3)
Gryzor | 1987 | EU/ NA ver. | by Bob Wakelin | Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, MS- DOS, ZX Spectrum. (2)
High Noon | 1984 | by Bob Wakelin | ZX Spectrum. (7)
Mario Bros | EU ver. | 1987 | Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum.
NeverEnding Story, The | 1985 | by Renato Casaro | Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum.
NewZealand Story, The | 1989 | EU ver. | by Bob Wakelin | Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, NES, ZX Spectrum. (4)
Operation Wolf | 1988 | EU ver. | by Bob Wakelin | Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, MSX, ZX Spectrum.
Robocop | 1989 | by Mike Bryan | Amiga, Atari ST. (8)
Wizball | 1987 | EU ver. | by Bob Wakelin | Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum. (5)
Jon Woods and David Ward would join Europe’s exploding video game scene forming Spectrum Games in the early 1980’s. Box arts for debuting titles such as Cosmic Intruders and Rocket Command (both 1983) would be functional but hardly memorable. In these early days of the industry mail order through trade mags was still the main way of distributing games and so quality, flashy box arts fighting for shelf space was yet to be an issue.
The name Spectrum Games was quickly dropped in 1983 in favour of Ocean, and late that year the studio would hire ex-Imagine Software art director, Steve Blower, responsible for much of Imagine’s promotional material. For the short but influential time Imagine was active (1983 - mid 1984) it was seen as an industry leader, producing quality colour box arts that would influence Ocean’s early output.
Working alongside Steve was artist Bob Wakelin. Hired by Ocean in 1983 together with illustrator, Blair, Bob and Blair would be responsible for Ocean's debuting games, Moon Alert and Gilligan’s Gold. Bob from then on would go it alone and be responsible for a large portion of Ocean’s box arts until 1994.
The vast amount of games produced monthly in the early days meant a quick turnaround was required from Bob. This lack of time given, coupled with the small case dimensions used by tape based machines, led to charming but simplistic box arts, such as Road Toad and Hunchback (both 1983). Later, with longer development times and larger boxes to cover with his art, Bob’s artistry and detail would greatly improve with some of his best and most memorable works, including Operation Wolf, The NewZealand Story and Chase H.Q coming towards the end of the decade.
Ocean in 1985 would buy the now defunct Imagine Software name and use it as a sub-label to release converted Konami arcade games. Bob would find himself on box art duties for such Imagine games as, Hyper Sports (1985), Green Beret (1986) and Renegade (1987). All would look resolutely westernised paying little attention to the Japanese originals - that were unlikely available for Bob reference at the time. Some Konami Japanese originals would be used, Ping Pong, Yie Ar Kung-Fu (both 1985) Salamander and Bad Dudes (both 1988) being examples, but most would get a more ‘culturally appealing’ version, as was the norm in the 1980’s.
Daley Thompson’s Decathlon (1984) would be Ocean’s first big hit and the first time in Europe that a personality likeness was used on a box art. It would be the catalyst for the move into licencing that Ocean would later become famous for. Equally, The Neverending Story (1985) was the first European movie licenced video game and its box art the first time an original movie poster was attached. What success Ocean had with The Neverending Story would be dwarfed though by both the Batman and Robocop releases (both 1989). Box arts would again be the licenced movie posters and would help set the publisher up as a major international player going into the 1990’s.
>Box art history
>Select box art catalogue 1983-1989
Oli’s artwork has become somewhat representative of the 1980’s video game scene thanks to the artist’s contributions to gaming magazines CRASH, Zzap!64, Amtix and The Games Machine. Some of his magazine covers would translate to box art (see, Feud, Knight Games and The Demon’s Forge) but the majority would be originals and published under Thalamus.
Outside of video games, Frey is well known as an illustrator for character Dan Dare, as well as a pioneering artist in the erotic gay art scene under the pen name Zack.
>Box art catalogue
Armalyte | Thalamus | 1988 | Commodore 64.
Beach Head II | U.S. Gold | 1985 | EU ver. | Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum.
Borobudur: The Planet of Doom | Thalamus | 1992 | Amiga.
Delta Charge | Thalamus | 1990 | EU ver. | Commodore 64, Sam, ZX Spectrum.
Demon’s Forge, The | Mastertronic | 1987 | NA ver. | PC Booter. (1)
Feud | Mastertronic | 1988 | NA ver. | Commodore 64, MS-DOS.
Hawkeye | Thalamus | 1988 | Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64.
Heatseeker | Thalamus | 1990 | Commodore 64.
Ket Trllogy, The | Incentive Software | 1985 | BBC Micro, Commodore 64, Dragon 32, Electron, ZX Spectrum.
Knight Games | Mastertronic | 1986 | NA ver. | Commodore 64, MS-DOS.
Que-Dex | Thalamus | 1987 | EU ver. | Commodore 64.
Retrograde | Thalamus | 1989 | Commodore 64.
Snare | Thalamus | 1989 | Commodore 64.
Venom Wing | Thalamus | 1990 | Amiga.
Zaxxan | Stazone Software | 1983 | EU ver. | ZX Spectrum.
Demon’s Forge, The
Published by Mastertronic in 1987 for the North American PC Booter market.
Frey’s artwork originally appeared on the cover of Zzap #13, 1986 and under the name Cauldron & Antiriad. It is one of a handful of his covers that the US arm of Mastertronic used exclusively in the States.
The game was orignally released in 1981 and with a very different cover.
>Pictures from left to rright - box art and Zzap cover.
>Box art review
Resistance 3 | Sony Computer Entertainment | 2011 | PS3. (1)
>Box art catalogue
>Box art review
Published by Sony Computer Entertainment globally in 2011 for the PS3.
Resistance 3’s cover art would see the talented Olly Moss reinvent the series art direction with a simple and provocative take on the post-apocalyptic genre. It’s style, in the vain of Saul Bass’ iconic poster work, would initially polarise fans used to the rendered hero and bleak stylisation both prequel box arts depicted, but with time it has grown to become a much loved modern cover.
It’s colouring would make it further standout amidst and grey and brown hues so popular with post millennium box arts, and it’s stylish art direction would be daring for a clichéd industry.
The alternative cover art (shown) would be the definitive version, the standard cover missing Joseph, and would bring home the gravity of the Chimera’s occupation and the loneliness of our hero’s mission.
Touted at the time as one of the best box arts of year, it has retrospectively become a claim that still holds true.