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

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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.

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Artist index: Pa - Ph


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Pablo Uchida.  Japanese box artist in 2016.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Definitive Experience | Konami | 2016 | PS4, Xbox One. (1)

Romancing of the Three Kingdoms: XIII | Koei Tecmo Games | 2016 | PS3, PS4, Xbox One, Windows.





Metal Gear Solid V: The Definitive Experience

Published by Konami in 2016 for the European and North American markets.  

PS4 ver. pictured.




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.

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>Box art catalogue

>Box art review

Paul Hanson.  North American box artist from 1978-1979.

BASIC Computer Game | Creative Computing Software | 1978 | Apple II, Commodore PET, Ohio Scientific, TRS-80. (1)

More BASIC Computer Games | Creative Computing Software | 1978 | Apple II, Commodore PET, TRS-80.





>Box art catalogue

Paul Kidby.  English box artist from 1991-1994.

Benefactor | Psygnosis | 1994 | Amiga, CD32. (1)

Corporation | Virgin Games | 1991 | NA ver. | MS-DOS.

Prince of Persia | Virgin Games | 1992 | EU/ NA ver. | Game Boy.  

Second Samurai | Psygnosis | 1994 | Genesis, Mega Drive.




>Box art catalogue

Peter Andrew Jones.  English box artist from 1983-1992.




Alien Legion | Gainstar Software Ltd | 1989 | Amiga. (1)

Artura | Gremlin Graphics Software Ltd | 1989 | Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, MS-DOS, ZX Spectrum.

Badlands | Domark Software | 1989 | Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum.

Big 100, The | Wicked Software | 1992 | Amiga, Commodore 64, MS-DOS. (8)

Black Tiger | U.S Gold | 1989 | Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum. (7)

Blood Money | Psygnosis | 1989 | Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, MS-DOS.  (12)

Cytron | Psygnosis | 1992 | Amiga. (5)

Dynasty Wars | U.S Gold | 1990 | EU ver. | Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, MS-DOS, ZX Spectrum. (12)

Echeon | U.S Gold | 1988 | Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum.

Falcon: The Renegade Lord | Virgin Games Ltd. | 1987 | Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum.

F.O.F.T – Federation of Free Traders | Spotlight Software | 1989 | Amiga, Atari ST.

Gauntlet III: The Final Quest | U.S Gold | 1991 | Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum. (4)

Interphase | Image Works | 1989 | Amiga, Atari ST, MS-DOS.

Knights of the Crystallion | U.S Gold | 1990 | Amiga.

Kristal, The | Addictive Games Ltd. | 1989 | EU ver. | Amiga.

Laser Zone | Llamasoft | 1983 | Commodore 64, Dragon 32, VIC-20, ZX Spectrum. (9)

Last duel | U.S Gold | 1989 | Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum.

Matrix Marauders | Psygnosis | 1990 | Amiga, Atari ST.

Omnicron Conspiracy | Star Software | 1990 | Amiga, Atari ST, MS-DOS. (3)

Shadowlands | Domark Software Ltd. | 1992 | Amiga, Atari ST, MS-DOS.

Spell Bound | Psyclapse | 1990 | Amiga. (2)

Stryx | Psygnosis | 1989 | Amiga, Atari ST, MS-DOS. (11)

Targhan | Silmarils | 1989 | Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Macintosh, MS-DOS.

Venus the Fly Trap | Psygnosis | 1990 | Amiga, Atari ST.

Warlock of Firetop Mountain, The | Puffin Books Ltd. | 1984 | ZX Spectrum. (6)



















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Even before his graduation from St. Martins School of Art in 1974 Peter had started to make a name for himself as a fine painter.  With the encouragement of a visiting lecturer he would secure his first commercial cover art job through Puffin Books and Penelope Farmer’s ‘A Castle of Bone’.

He would continue to provide commissioned artworks throughout the 70’s and into the 80’s for various sci-fi authors before turning his attentions to a different form of publishing; the role play book. His cover for Fighting Fantasy’s the ‘Warlock of Firetop Mountain’ would radically eschew cover art traditions and give the artist an even greater international presence due to the book’s success. It led to further role-play book commissions in the Lone Wolf and Kult series’. 

By the early 80’s Peter would start commissioning artworks for the fledgling UK video game scene with one of his first box arts being for Llamasoft’s space shooter Laser Zone (1983). It would be an early example of an artwork being reused as cover art, and helped pave the way for this European trend that lasted a decade longer. 1989 saw the artist team up with software house Psygnosis where he would contribute such classic works as Blood Money (1989), Matrix Marauders (1990) and Spellbound (1990). It would also be a period of exclusive cover arts with fine examples including Artura (1989), Black Tiger (1989) and Knights of Crystallion (1990) sitting comfortably alongside previous works, along with stylistically lighter and more ‘arcadey’ looking box arts such as Last Duel (1989), Badlands and Venus the Flytrap (both 1990). As with so many box artists of his generation Peter would move on by the mid 90’s with his last video game cover being possibly either Cytron or Shadowlands (both 1992).

With inspiration from such varied, and eclectic artists, as Peter Blake, Salvador Dali and James Bama, as well as visually formative and inspiring media including 60’s Star Trek, Doctor Who and DC’s comics, Peter’s lasting passion for otherworldly landscapes and bold central figures clothed in dramatic colour is understandable. Box arts for Blood Money, Black Tiger, Omnicron Conspiracy (1990) and Targhan (1989) all brilliantly show these traits, and how suggestive and fitting both his commissioned and exclusive artworks are. 

All known box arts would certainly have been primarily created using his favoured media; hand-mixed oil paint, but with a penchant for mixing applications of oils and acrylics and using airbrush, a single box art could have been diversely produced. Today Peter keeps his artwork alive through his published books and website where you can check out the history from one of Europe’s finest painters.  

Blood Money

Published by Psygnosis in 1989 for the European and North American markets.  

Atari ST ver. pictured.




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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Laser Zone is Peter’s earliest known cover and also an early example of a commissioned artwork - originally cover art for Isaac Asimov’s novel ‘Buy Jupiter’, 1978 - being reused as box art.

>Pictures from left to right - original box art, original artwork, Buy Juipter cover art.

Laser Zone

Published by Llamasoft in 1983 for the European market.

Commodore 64 ver. pictured.



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Stryx

Published by Psygnosis in 1989 for the European and North American markets.  

Atari ST ver. pictured.




Peter Andrew Jone’s Stryx would carry on the Psygnosis/ Psyclapse tradition of using already completed artsworks and re-commissioning them.  Originally created in 1970, Stryx was classic sci-fi pulp complete with diabolic robot and death rays: something straight out of 50’s cinema.  

As with many of Peter’s earlier box arts, such as Laser Zone, Blood Money and Alien Legion, they originally found life on the cover of a 70’s novel.  So far Stryx can not be found published elsewhere but it is highly unlikely it went unused.

The lettering is by Roger Dean.

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>Artist profile

>Box art catalogue

>Box art review

Peter Bollinger.  North American box artist from 1995-1997.

Baku Baku Animal | Sega | 1996 | NA ver. | Saturn.

Gex | Crystal Dynamics | 1995 | 3DO, PS1, Saturn, Windows.

Top Gear Rally | Midway | 1997 | EU/ NA ver. | Nintendo 64. (1)





Top Gear Rally

Published by Midway in 1997 for the European and North American Nintendo 64 markets.




Bollinger’s Top Gear Rally would be typical of western box art designs in the late ‘90’s, with high end CG models used and created by design, marketing studios. The Japanese equivalent is also typical, still using traditional media and taking a more playful tone.  

>Pictures from left to right - EU/ NA box art and JPN cover.

>Box art catalogue

>Box art review

Peter Morawiec.  North American box artist in 1995.

Comic Zone | Sega | 1995 | EU/ NA ver. | Genesis, Mega Drive. (1)





>Box art catalogue

Philip Castle.  English box artist from 1986-1994.

Elite | Acornsoft | 1986 | Acorn Atom, BBC Micro. (1)

Revs | Firebird | 1986 | Commodore 64.

Revs+ | Firebird | 1987 | Commodore 64.

Overlord | Virgin interactive | 1994 | Amiga, MS-DOS.



Elite

English artwork. Published by Acornsoft in 1986 for the European market.

BBC Micro ver. pictured.



The famous cover and poster artist (Aladdin Sane, Clockwork Orange, Mars Attacks!) would be responsible in designing the first box art for this seminal space-trader game.

The artwork’s spaceship and space setting was standard 70’s/ 80’s design but the piece would be elevated by the glorious and dominating logo. The logo, inspired by pilot’s wings, would also have the look of a griffin applied to it giving it coat of arms feel.

The popularity of the game meant that publisher Firebird ported it to every going home computer of the day along with the NES. On these box arts a version of Philip’s logo would be all that was used. It is a iconic and imposing design that is still striking to this day.

>Pictures from left to right - original box art and re-release cover art.

     

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>Box art catalogue

>Box art review

Philippe Caza - see CAZA.

Psygnosis/ Psyclapse.  Publisher years from 1986-1989.


Founders Jonathan Ellis, Ian Hetherington and David Lawson set about building a studio with the high level of quality their previous company, Imagine had become known for.  What they did with Psygnosis in 1985 until the mid - 00’s was to better Imagine’s achievements, and a contributing reason for this was the quality box arts published.   

Famed fantasy and sci-fi painter Roger Dean, known for his Yes album covers, was brought on board in 1985 and set about creating the company’s famous owl logo and Psygnosis lettering.  He would go on to design their first box art, the excellent Brataccas (1986), setting the tone and a high standard for future covers to reach. The artist also created the covers lettering, a practice he’d repeat on many of the publisher’s releases up until 1992.

Dean’s follow up Deep Space (1986) introduced the black box and thin coloured frame design used on the majority of releases until the early 90’s.  Roger would arguably hit his Psygnosis creative peak with the exceptional Shadow of the Beast (1989). The cover exuded a lofty level of craftsmanship quite unseen at that time in Europe.  Psygnosis realizing that they were on to something special with the Beast released it in large panoramic deluxe box. Not only would it show off Roger’s work to its fullest, but it also provided the extra space needed for the much sought-after Dean designed Beast T-shirt.  A few other games saw the big box release, notably Shadow of the Beast II, Awesome and Orbitus.

By 1988 Psygnosis’ successes meant their publisher output had increased. One can only imagine the time it took Roger to complete his artworks meant bringing other artists onboard was necessary.  As well as commissioning new artworks, Psygnosis would also license pre-existing high fantasy art that loosely fitted in with the individual games art direction (a common industry practice at the time). Melvyn Grant’s Baal (1988) was the first re-commissioned artwork (it started life in childrens cereal packets as a free mask) and Menace (1988) by Ian Craig, the first non-Roger Dean original. Also on the artist roster by the end of the 1980’s was Peter Andrew Jones (Stryx and Blood Money, both 1989). Psygnosis by 1989 had now pushed the box art medium into new territories of excellence and shown the industry that quality art sold games.   



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>Box art catalogue 1986-1989

Baal | Psyclapse | 1988 | by Melvyn Grant. (5)

Ballistix | Psyclapse | 1989 | by Melvyn Grant. (9)

Barbarian | Psygnosis | 1987 | by Roger Dean. (6)

Blood Money | Psygnosis | 1989 | by Peter Andrew Jones. (2)

Brataccas | Psygnosis |1986 | by Roger Dean. (10)

Captain Fizz Meets the Blaster-Trons | Psyclapse | 1988 | by Melvyn Grant.

Chrono Quest | Psygnosis | 1988 | by Roger Dean. (11)

Deep Space | Psygnosis | 1986 | by Roger Dean. (1)

Menace | Psyclapse | 1988 | by Ian Craig. (7)

Nevermind | Psyclapse | 1989 | by Ian Craig

Obliterator | Psygnosis | 1988 | by Roger Dean. (12)

Shadow of the Beast | Psygnosis | 1989 | by Roger Dean. (4)

Stryx | Psygnosis | 1989 | by Peter Andrew Jones. (3)

Terrorpods | Psygnosis | 1987 | Roger Dean & Tim White. (8)


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Ballistix by Melvyn Grant.

English artwork. First published by Psygnosis in 1989 for the global market.  

PC Engine ver. pictured.




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.

>Pictures from left to right - original box art and novel cover art.

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Brataccas by Roger Dean

Published by Psygnosis in 1986 for the European and North American markets.  

Amiga ver. pictured (1st edition).




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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>Box art history

>Box art review

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