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: Sa - So

Hardware index: Sg

Publisher index: Sq

Video game series index: So

Pages - Sa-Sq  St  Su


Shinkiro (Toshiaki Mori).  Japanese box artist from 1991-2018.


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Born in 1962, Shinkiro would study technical drawing after being inspired by America artist Frank Frazetta.  For many years he free-lanced as an illustrator working on commercial product magazines whilst dabbling in cartooning. He would join SNK’s design department in 1990 amidst the dawn of the Neo Geo age, where he would work alongside the company’s founder/ producer Eikichi Kawasaki. His first box art design would be for ASO II: Last Guardian, 1991 (Alpha Mission II) and he would finish that busy year with further cover arts for games; Sengoku, Robo Army and Eightman amongst others.  

These early box arts would be created using traditional mediums such as oils, gouache and spray paint, before he made the transition to digital artwork using Apple Macs and paint package Photoshop in the mid-90’s. Interestingly an interview from around 2001 has him state that his favourite personally designed cover art is Ghost Pilots (1991). It’s a wonderfully charming artwork with an interesting colour pallet and a cool title (complete with Grim Reaper), although it does lack what makes a Shinkiro cover art so great: characters.

Looking at his box arts from 1991 you could be forgiven for thinking they were done by more than one artist.  Comparing Sengoku, Ghost Pilots, Robo Army and ASO II the difference in style, technique and the mediums used is diverse, ranging from anime (Robo Army) to traditional 80’s sci-fi (ASO II). The only box art instinctive of the art style to come would be in Sengoku with it’s unmistakeably heavy shading, chiselled jaw lines and confident look to it’s characters. This box art would also start a trend for the artist whereby he juxtaposed characters: the background ones coloured in distinctly darker bluish hues. Check out Art of Fighting, Fatal Fury Special, King of Fighters ’97 and Psi-Ops for further examples. You can also see the influence that N. C. Wyeth, one of Shinkiro’s favourite artists, has had on these box arts when you study his character posture and shadowing.

Artistically we move into more familiar territory the following year with two of SNK’s first big series,  Art of Fighting, and Fatal Fury and again in 1993 with Samurai Showdown and the delightfully camp 3 Count Bout. All would have the characteristics detailed above and would exemplify a common complaint made about Shinkiro’s art: that his faces whether masculine or feminine all looked samey.

By 1998 box arts for Metal Slug X and King of Fighters ’98 completed his transition to digital art.  He would do well in maintaining his style after the jump to digital. His lines would become cleaner, box arts more cluttered and washed in garish background colours but style of content would remain largely unchanged.

SNK in 2000 would fold (later becoming SNK Playmore) and Shinkiro would be quickly hired by rival Capcom.  His box arts for them would start to look more realistic with Biohazard: Gun Survivor 4, Dead Rising and Glass Rose, but he would still create more stylised works with Tatsunoko vs Capcom, Ultimate Ghosts ‘n Goblins and Final Fight One (albeit all three are directed towards a younger/ retro audience). He would also produce works for Marvel with the Unlimited Spiderman comics and UDON’s Street Fighter comics.

Still going strong today, but alibi not in such large volumes of work, his more recent covers have been within the Street Fighter universe.




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>Artist profile

>Box art catalogue

3 Count Bout | SNK | 1993 | Neo Geo AES, Neo Geo CD.

Art of Fighting | SNK | 1992. | Genesis, Mega Drive (EU ver.), Neo Geo AES (NA ver), Neo Geo CD, SNES, Super Famicom.

Art of fighting 2 | SNK | 1994 | Neo Geo  AES, Neo Geo CD.

Art of fighting 2 | SNK | 1994 | Super Famicom.

ASO II: Last Guardian | SNK | 1991| Neo Geo AES, Neo Neo CD.

Biohazard: Gun Survivor 4 | Capcom | 2003 | PS2.

Burning Fight | SNK | 1991 | Neo Geo AES, Neo Neo CD.

Capcom Fighting Evolution | Capcom | 2004 | JPN ver. | PS2.

Capcom vs. SNK 2: EO | Capcom | 2001 | JPN ver. | Dreamcast, PS2.

Capcom vs. SNK 2: EO | Capcom | 2002 | EU ver. | GameCube, Xbox. (1)

Capcom vs. SNK 2: Mark of the Millennium | Capcom | 2001 | NA ver. | Gamecube, PS2, Xbox.

Dead Rising | Capcom | 2006 | PS3, Xbox.

Dead Rising 2 | Capcom | 2010 | PS3, Windows, Xbox 360.

Dead Rising: Chop till you Drop | Capcom | 2009 | Nintendo Wii. (10)

Dinostalker | Capcom | 2002 | EU/ JPN ver. | PS2.

Dinostalker | Capcom | 2002 | NA ver | PS2.

Eightman | SNK | 1991 | Neo Geo AES.

Fatal Fury | SNK | 1991 | JPN ver. | Neo Geo AES, Super Famicom. (5)

Fatal Fury 2 | SNK | 1993 | NA ver. | Neo Geo AES.

Fatal Fury 3: Road to the Final Victory | SNK | 1995 | Neo Geo AES.

Fatal Fury 3: Road to the Final Victory | SNK | 1996 | Neo Geo CD. (2)

Fatal Fury Special | SNK | 1993 | FM Towns, Neo Geo AES, Neo Geo CD, Mega /Sega CD, Super Famicom, X68000.

Final Fight One | Capcom | 2001 | Game Boy Advance.

Ghost Pilots | SNK | 1991 | JPN ver. | Neo Geo AES. (11)

Glass Rose | Capcom | 2004 | PS2.

King of Fighters ‘94, The | SNK | 1994 | Neo Geo AES, Neo Geo CD. (3)

King of Fighters ‘95, The | SNK | 1995 | Neo Geo AES, PS1 (NA ver.).

King of Fighters ‘95, The | SNK | 1996 | JPN ver. | PS1.

King of Fighters ‘95, The | SNK | 1995 | Neo Geo CD, Saturn.

King of Fighters ‘96, The | SNK | 1996 | Neo Geo AES, Neo Geo CD, Saturn.

King of Fighters ‘96, The | SNK | 1997 | PS1.

King of Fighters ‘96: Neo Geo Collection, The | SNK | 1997 | Neo Geo CD.

King of Fighters ‘97, The | SNK | 1997 | Neo Geo AES.

King of Fighters ‘97, The | SNK | 1997 | Neo Geo CD.

King of Fighters ‘97, The | SNK | 1998 | PS1. (12)

King of Fighters ‘97, The | SNK | 1998 | Saturn.

King of Fighters ‘98: The Slugfest, The | SNK | 1998 | Neo Geo AES.

King of Fighters ‘98: The Slugfest, The | SNK | 1998 | Neo Geo CD.

King of Fighters ‘98: The Slugfest, The | SNK | 1999 | PS1. (14)

King of Fighters ‘99: Millennium Battle, The | SNK | 1999 | Neo Geo AES.

King of Fighters ‘99: Millennium Battle, The | SNK | 1999 | Neo Geo CD.

King of Fighters ‘99: Millennium Battle, The | SNK | 2000 | JPN ver. | PS1.

King of Fighters ‘99: Millennium Battle, The | SNK | 2000 | NA ver. | PS1.

King of Fighters 2000, The | SNK | 2000 | Neo Geo AES.

King of Fighters Best Collection, The | SNK | 1998 | Saturn.

King of Fighters:  Dream Match 1999, The | SNK | 1999 | Dreamcast.

King of Fighters:  Evolution, The | SNK | 2000 | JPN ver. | Dreamcast.

King of Fighters:  Evolution, The | SNK | 2000 | NA ver. | Dreamcast.

King of Fighters EX: Neo Blood, The | Marvelous Entertainment | 2002 | Game Boy Advance.

Last Blade, The | SNK | 1998 | Neo Geo AES.

Metal Slug 3 | SNK | 2000 | Neo Geo AES, PS2, Xbox. (8)

Metal Slug X | SNK | 1999 | Neo Geo AES, PS1.

Mutation Nation | SNK | 1992 | Neo Geo AES, Neo Geo CD.

Psi-Ops | Capcom | 2004 | PS2, Windows, Xbox.

Real Bout Fatal Fury | SNK | 1996 | Neo Geo AES, Neo Geo CD, PS1, Saturn.

Real Bout Fatal Fury 2: The Newcomers | SNK | 1998 | Neo Geo AES, Neo Geo CD.

Real Bout Fatal Fury Special | SNK | 1997 | Neo Geo AES, Neo Geo CD, Saturn.

Resident Evil: Deadly Silence | Capcom | 2006 | EU/ NA ver. | Nintendo DS.

Resident Evil: Deadly Silence | Capcom | 2006 | JPN ver. | Nintendo DS. (4)

Robo Army | SNK | 1991 | JPN ver. | Neo Geo AES, Neo Geo CD. (9)

Samurai Shodown | SNK | 1993 | Game Gear, Genesis, Mega Drive, Neo Geo AES, Neo Geo CD, Sega CD, SNES.

Samurai Shodown II | SNK | 1994 | Neo Geo AES, Neo Geo CD, Windows.

Sengoku | SNK | 1991 | Neo Geo AES.

Sengoku | SNK | 1995 | Neo Geo CD.

Sengoku 2 | SNK | 1993 | Neo Geo AES, Neo Geo CD.

Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection | Capcom | 2018 | Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One. (7)

Street Fighter V: Special Shoryuken Edition | Capcom | 2016 | PS4.

Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts | Capcom | 2002 | Game Boy Advance.

Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Cross  Generation of Heroes | Capcom | 2008 | Nintendo Wii.

Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars | Capcom | 2010 | Nintendo Wii. (6)

Ultimate Ghosts ‘n Goblins | Capcom | 2006 | with Shoei | Sony PSP. (13)

Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 | Capcom | 2011 | PS3, Xbox 360.
















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Sam Yeates.  North American box artist from 1994-1996.

SENSEI (Haruki Suetsugu). Japanese box artist from 1997-2007.

Legend of Zelda, The: The Minish Cap | Nintendo | 2004 | EU ver. | Game Boy Advance. (1)

Legend of Zelda, The: The Minish Cap | Nintendo | 2004 | JPN ver. | Game Boy Advance.

Legend of Zelda, The: The Minish Cap | Nintendo | 2004 | NA ver. | Game Boy Advance.

Mega Man X4 | Capcom | 1997 | EU/ NA ver. | PS1, Saturn, Windows.

Mega Man X4 | Capcom | 1997 | JPN ver. | PS1.

Mega Man X4 | Capcom | 1997 | JPN ver. | Saturn.

Mega Man X5 | Capcom | 2000 | EU/ NA ver. | PS1.

Mega Man X5 | Capcom | 2000 | JPN ver. | PS1.

Mega Man X6 | Capcom | 2001 | EU/ NA ver. | PS1.

Mega Man X6 | Capcom | 2001 | JPN ver. | PS1.

Mega Man XTreme | Capcom | 2000 | Game Boy Color.

Mega Man XTreme 2 | Capcom | 2001 | JPN ver. | Game Boy Color.

Mega Man XTreme 2 | Capcom | 2001 | NA ver. | Game Boy Color.

Zak and Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure | Capcom | 2007 | EU/ NA ver. | Nintendo Wii.





>Box art catalogue

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SG-1000/ SG-3000.  Sega hardware from 1983-1987.



Boarderline | Sega | 1983. (7)

Champion Boxing | Sega | 1984.

Championship Lode Runner | Sega | 1985.

Exerion | Sega | 1983.

Girl’s Garden | Sega | 1984. (3)

Loretta no Shouzou: Sherlock Holmes | Sega | 1987. (8)

Mikie | Sega | 1985.

Monaco GP | Sega | 1983. (1)

N-Sub | Sega | 1983. (9)

Orguss | Sega | 1984 | by Kazutaka Miyatake. (10)

Pascar | Sega | 1983. (6)

Sega-Galaga | Sega | 1983.

Sega Ninja | Sega | 1986. (5)

Sinbad Mystery | Sega | 1983.

Space Invaders | Sega | 1985. (4)

Wonder Boy | Sega | 1986. (2)








In 1983 Sega entered the home console market with the little remembered SG-1000, launching the same day as Nintendo’s Family Computer (Famicom).  The console would prove to be an awkward and unsuccessful first step for the Japanese giant. The covers for launch-year games would be a mix of painterly art (see Yamoto and N-Sub) and cartooned styled illustrations (see Pacar and Congo Bongo) that oddly borrowed little from Japan’s cultural Manga and anime scenes of the time. They would also bare little similarities with the Famicom’s first round of Nintendo published covers, which took some influence from E. C. Segar’s art, and were themselves designed in a vibrant, simple style and bold palette.

Toe to toe with the Famicom’s colourful box arts the SG-1000’s couldn’t help but look rather demure and joyless in comparison, not helped by the engulfing black borders used to mount the artworks. The border situation in Japan would be revised and improved upon through three iterations from 1983 - 1985.  ‘Type A’, the original box design, had a thick black border, title in English and Japanese and smallish artwork; ‘type B’, a thinner border, title in English and Japanese and a larger artwork, and ‘type C’, no border, full width artwork and title in Japanese. The type C box would make for a more appealing cover and was later used as standard on the Sega My Card releases from 1985 – 1987. The only difference  now being the change to blue boxes for card games, so to differentiate them from the black cartridge boxes.

From the SG-1000’s modest beginnings Sega appeared to have had an international plan for it - the Mark I released in New Zealand in 1983, the Mark II Australia and Europe in 1984, whilst early game manuals shipped in both Japanese and English. It may well of been a priority that box arts appealed to overseas markets. If so, this could account for the more western style of art used and the US references found within many covers (see Borderline, Zippy Race and Space Slalom). That’s not to say overtly looking Japanese art wasn’t still used and exported.  Orguss was a great example of an anime box art that published across PAL regions. It is the earliest known video game cover to use this style of art in the West. Bar one cover - Championship Tennis - all games published abroad shipped with their original Japanese artworks.  This entailed that for the first time Japanese designed cover arts were being released in the West, a feat that would take Nintendo some years to equal with its NES in the States.

The final SG-1000 game to be released on cartridge would be Loretta no Shouzou: Sherlock Holmes (1987).  It used the gold décor design that adorned the boxes for Sega’s follow up console the Mark III, one of only two SG-1000 games to do so (the other being The Castle, 1987). One can only speculate that this rather deceptive decision on Sega’s part was due to the company not wanting to associate these two games with the SG-1000 - having already been discontinued for a year or so.

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>Box art history

>Select box art catalogue

>Box art review

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N-Sub (N-サブ).

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




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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Orguss (オーガス") by Kazutaka Miyatake.

Japanese artwork. Published by Sega in 1984 for the European and Japanese SG-1000 market.




The game would be based on the Super Dimension Century Orguss TV series that launched in Japan (July,1983).  The box art looks to be a still or panel from the show by mechanical designer Miyataka.

The game would be released in Europe with this box art intact and is currently the earliest known mecha/ anime cover art to be used in the West.

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Sasha Shor.  North American box artist from 1996-2000.

Daikatana | Eidos Interactive | 2000 | Game Boy Color, Nintendo 64, Windows. (2)

Quake | id Software | 1996 | Acorn 32-bit, Amiga, Linux, Macintosh, MS-DOS, Nintendo 64, Saturn, Windows. (1)






>Box art catalogue

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Crusader: No Regret | ORIGIN Systems | 1996 | MS-DOS.

Jane's Combat Simulations: AH-64D Longbow | EA | 1996 | MS-DOS.

Privateer 2: The Darkening | EA | 1996 | NA ver. | MS-DOS, Windows.

Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger | EA | 1994 | 3DO, Macintosh, MS-DOS, PS2, Windows. (1)

Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom | EA | 1996 | Macintosh, MS-DOS, PS1.

Wing Commander: The Kilrathi Saga | EA | 1996 | Windows.








>Box art catalogue

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Shinya Edaki - see Edayan.

Sonic the Hedgehog - platform series.  Sega series from 1991-2018.

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Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (ソニック・ザ・ヘッジホッグ2) by Greg Martin.

North American artwork. Published by Sega in 1992 for the European and North American markets.

Game Gear ver. pictured.



Debuting a few days before the Genesis/ Mega Drive version of Sonic 2, the Game Gear box art would not only be the first time Sonic’s wingman Tails was depicted but also arch-enemy Dr. Robotnic.  

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>Box art catalogue

>Box art review

Alcahest | 1993 | Super Famicom.

Bahamut Lagoon | 1996 | Akira Watanabe | Super Famicom. (3)

Chrono Trigger | 1995 | NA ver. | Akira Toriyama | SNES. (5)

Death Trap, The | 1984 | FM-7 , PC-88.

Final Fantasy | 1987 | JPN ver. | by Yoshitkaka Amano | Famicom, MSX, PS1. (10)

Final Fantasy II | 1988 | JPN ver. | by Yoshitkaka Amano | Famicom.

Final Fantasy III | 1990 | by Yoshitkaka Amano | Famicom. (1)

Final Fantasy IV | 1994 | by Yoshitkaka Amano | Super Famicom.

Final Fantasy VII | 1997 | EU/ JPN ver. | by Yoshitaka Amano | PS1 (8)

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance | 2003 | by Nao Ikeda | Game Boy Advance.

Front Mission | 1995 | Yoshitaka Amano | Super Famicom, WonderSwan Color.

Front Mission: Gun Hazard | 1996 | by Yoshitaka Amano | Super Famicom. (7)

King’s Knight | 1986 | Famicom, MSX, NES, PC-88, Sharp X-1.

Kingdom Hearts | 2002 | EU/ NA ver. | by Tetsuya Nomura | PS2. (6)

Live a Live | 1994 | Ryogi Minagawa | Super Famicom. (4)

Romancing SaGa | 1992 | Tomomoi Kobayashi | Super Famicom.

Secret of Mana | 1993 | by Hiroo Isono | SNES, Super Famicom. (9)

Sokaigi | 1998 | by Natsuki Sumeragi | PS1.

Vagrant Story | 2000 | by Akihiko Yoshida | PS2. (2)





Square (Squaresoft).  Publisher from 1984-2003.


The company was founded in 1983 by Masashi Myamoto and released it’s first title The Death Trap on Japan’s home computers in 1984.  The cover art was a peculiar western inspired  “commando” design, that wouldn’t have looked out of place adorning an 80’s action movie. The two sequels (Will: The Death Trap II and Alpha. 1985 and 1986 respectively) would resort to more familiar manga style box arts.

Very few Square games prior to landmark title Final Fantasy (1987) would make it overseas, but interestingly the first to do so, King’s Knight (1986), released in North America and retained its original Japanese box art. King’s Knight’s cover would sit out of place as the later Squaresoft, Inc. (Square’s US subsidiary) set about replacing the majority of the Japanese cover arts with more regionally “appealing” versions for the US and EU. 

This disparaging lack of confidence for the original Japanese cover arts became glaringly obvious when the Final Fantasy series shipped in the States (1990) and without the covers by the famed illustrator Yoshitaka Amano. His exquisite character art would not be seen on a western box art until towards the end of the 1990’s. Instead of Amano’s art, weapon and shield-littered box arts proliferated (see Final Fantasy NES 1990 and Final Fantasy Adventure/ Mystic Adventure, Game Boy 1991).

Square of Japan realising the strength in quality fine art would hire a broad spectrum of Japan’s masters of illustration to bring their characters to life. Box arts for Romancing SaGa series (Tomoni Kobayashi) 1993 onwards, Front Mission series (Yoshitaka Amano) 1995-99 and Secret of Mana (Hiroo Isono) 1993 and Sokaigi (Natsuki Sumeragi) 1998, had Square showcasing more painterly works, whilst more anime themed box arts, Live a Live (Ryogi Minagawa) 1994 and Chrono Trigger (Akira Toriyama) 1995, showed the publisher’s lighter side.

Whereas Square’s homeland competition such as Konami (Metal Gear), Capcom (Resident Evil) and Sega (Golden Axe) were westernising their characters and subsequently their Japanese box arts also, Square on the whole would retain a truely Eastern feel. This would be due to a majority of its games not making it overseas - and so not needing to artistically cater to American and European markets. It could also be argued that Square’s characters and story lines were always rooted in some sort of Japanese culture, and subsequently demanded regional specific characterisation.

With Final Fantasy VII’s major global success, the West finally started to adopt Yoshitaka’s art, with later released Final Fantasy anthologies and remakes using his original art. Meanwhile, European and Japanese main series Final Fantasy releases would use striking titles and silhouetted figurines to push the series forwards, while North America opted for character-driven CG art.   

In 2003 Square merged with Enix becoming the Square Enix we know today. They would go out in style with the excellent box art, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance by Nao Ikeda, who drew upon Yoshitaka’s legacy while pushing the series ever forward.



>Box art history

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>Select box art catalogue

>Box art review

Ghost Pilots (ゴーストパイロット)

Published by SNK in 1991 for the Japanese Neo Geo AES market.




One of Shinkiro’s early period box arts and distinguished for being one of a handful that don’t have the artist’s distinctive character art emblazoned across the cover. It is also one of the artists personal favorite covers.

The lettering looks like it was shamelessly ripped off from Nintendo’s F-Zero game, released two months previous.

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Metal Slug 3 (メタルスラッグ3)

First published by SNK in 2000. For the global market.

PS2 ver. pictured.



The artists final cover for publisher SNK before the company went under.

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Robo Army (ロボ・アーミー)

Published by SNK in 1991 for the Japanese market.

Neo Geo AES ver. pictured.




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This box art is a great example of early Shinkiro cover arts (1991-1993), where the artist’s style was heavily influenced by 80’s anime.

His distinctive character art was shining through (heavy inking and chiseled jawlines!) but it would take a couple of years before and more realistic style that he uses today would be perfected.

Shoei.  (Shoei Okano) Japanese box artist from 1993-2006.


Street Fighter II: Special Champion Edition | Capcom | 1993 | EU/ JPN ver. | FM Towns, Mega Drive, PC Engine, X68000. (1)

Ultimate Ghosts ‘n Goblins | Capcom | 2006 | with Shinkiro | Sony PSP. (2)





Rising to fame in the early 90’s as one of Capcom’s leading artists for Street Fighter 2, Shoei has enjoyed a long career for the company providing scores of promotional artworks and character designs mainly within the company’s arcade department.  

He has also been responsible for the title lettering and logo’s of many of Capcom’s highest profile releases.

Street Fighter II: Special Champion Edition (ストリートファイター2ダッシュ)

First published by Capcom in 1993 for the European and Japanese markets.

Mega Drive ver. pictured.



Shoei’s cover art has the distinction of being the first Japanese designed Street Fighter box art to be used in the European region.

The artwork was a part of Capcom’s arcade promotional material and interestingly had eyes painted originally for M. Bison - only for them to be removed as it was felt that they were too imposing and detracted the viewers attention from Ryu.

The America’s would again use artist Mick McGinty for the Genesis and Master System version. It paid no relation to Shoei’s.

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>Artist profile

>Box art catalogue

>Box art review

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Sohhei Oshiba.  Japanese box artist from 1991-1993.

Gain Ground | Sega | 1991 | JPN ver. | Mega Drive.

Golden Axe III | Sega | 1993 | Mega Drive. (1)

Pro Yakyū Super League CD | Sega | 1992 | Sega CD.





Golden Axe III (ゴールデンアックスⅢ)

Published by Sega in 1993 for the Japanese Mega Drive market.




The finished box art would take a rather transatlantic route, in that it was a reimagining of a Boris Vallejo original called ‘Silver Sword’.  

At some point Golden Axe III was set to be released in North America and so Sega of America commissioned Vallejo - who had already done Golden Axe II’s cover. The game was then canned but Vallejo’s artwork went on to be used as the basis for Japan’s cover art version.  It is likely that the Japanese didn’t have the rights to Boris’ art.

As with many Vallejo paint jobs, the female warrior is his wife and fellow artist Julie Bell.

>Pictures from left to right - original box art and unused Vallejo artwork.

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>Box art catalogue

>Box art review

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Strikingly thematic as if resembling some well-preserved Grecian plaque, Gods’ boldness, detail and palette fitted the in-game’s artistic direction perfectly.  But it was the cover art’s portrayal of strength that worked so brilliantly, with the hulking protagonist, weighty, brutal and iron clad, dealing death so effortlessly.  

Gods’ art style would standout from realism found in so many fantasy box arts in the early 90’s. Artist Simon Bisley would instead draw upon the stylised look of his comic book work found in 2000 AD and most prominently his depiction of warrior king Slaine - a character not far removed from the game’s protagonist.  

With Simon’s preferred medium being acrylic, chances are Gods was created using it along with anything from coloured pencils, to oils and car spray paint.


Weaponlord

Published by Namco Hometec in 1995 for the North American market.

Genesis ver. pictured.



Comic book artist Bisley would take OMZ and Fred Wong’s character sheet designs and add his own enviable artistic touch for bulking beast-warriors.

The oil painted artwork is the second piece Bisley designed for the game, the first being used as magazine promotional art.

Simon woud also design the lettering and skull & axe logo. Both would used on the European, Ocean Software box art but without the artwork.  

>Pictures from left to right - Genesis box art, original ‘Weaponlord II’ artwork, pen and ink sketch and ‘Weaponlord I’ artwork.

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Blade Warrior | Image Works | 1991 | Amiga, Atari ST, MS-DOS.

Fur Fighters: Viggo’s Revenge | Acclaim | 2001 | PS2.

Gods | Mindscape | 1991| EU/ JPN ver. | Amiga, Atari ST, Mega Drive. (1)

Heavy Metal F.A.K.K 2 | Gathering of Developers | 2000 | Linux, Macintosh, Windows.

Heavy Metal: Geomatrix | Capcom | 2001 | Dreamcast.

Judge Dredd | Gremlin Interactive | 1997 | EU ver. | PS1.

Terminator, The: Rampage | Bethesda Software | 1993 | MS-DOS.

Weaponlord | Namco Hometec | 1995 | Genesis, SNES. (2)



Gods

Published by Mindscape in 1991 for the European and Japanese markets.

Mega Drive ver. pictured.




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>Box art review

Simon Bisley.  English box artist from 1991-2001.

>Box art catalogue

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(1)

(2)

Chaotix | Sega | 1994 | JPN ver. | Sega 32X.

G Sonic | Sega | 1996 | JPN ver. | Game Gear.

Knuckles’ Chaotic | Sega | 1995 | EU/ NA ver. | by Greg Martin | Sega 32X.

Shadow the Hedgehog | Sega | 2005.

Sonic 3D Blast | Sega | 1996 | NA ver. | Mega Drive.

Sonic 3D Blast | Sega | 1996 | NA ver. | Saturn.

Sonic 3D: Flickies Island | Sega | 1996 | EU ver. | Saturn.

Sonic 3D: Flickies Island | Sega | 1999 | JPN ver. | by Yuji Uekawa | Saturn. (8)

Sonic Advance | Sega | 2001 | by Yuji Uekawa | Game Boy Advance.

Sonic Advance 2 | Sega | 2002 | by Yuji Uekawa | Game Boy Advance.

Sonic Advance 3 | Sega | 2004 | by Yuji Uekawa | Game Boy Advance.

Sonic Adventure | Sega | 1998 | by Yuji Uekawa | Dreamcast. (12)

Sonic Adventure 2 | Sega | 2001 | by Yuji Uekawa | Dreamcast.

Sonic Adventure 2 Battle | Sega | 2001 | by Yuji Uekawa | GameCube.

Sonic Adventure DX | Sega | 2003 | by Yuji Uekawa | GameCube.

Sonic and Knuckles | Sega | 1994 | EU/ NA ver. | by Greg Martin | Mega Drive, Genesis

Sonic and Knuckles | Sega | 1994 | JPN ver. | Mega Drive.

Sonic and Tails | Sega | 1993 | JPN ver. | Game Gear.

Sonic and Tails 2 | Sega | 1994 | JPN ver. | Game Gear.

Sonic and the Black Knight | Sega | 2009 | Nintendo Wii.

Sonic and the Secret Rings | Sega | 2007 | Nintendo Wii.

Sonic Blast | Sega | 1996 | EU/ NA ver. | Game Gear.

Sonic Boom: Rise of the Lyric | Sega | 2014 | Nintendo Wii. (7)

Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal | Sega | 2014 | Nintendo Wii.

Sonic CD | Sega | 1993 | EU ver. | by Kazuyuki Hoshino | Mega CD, Windows. (13)

Sonic CD | Sega | 1993 | JPN ver. | by Kazuyuki Hoshino | Mega CD. (9)

Sonic CD | Sega | 1993 | NA ver.  | by Greg Martin | Sega CD. (11)

Sonic Chaos | Sega | 1993 | EU/ NA ver. | by Greg Martin | Game Gear.

Sonic Chaos | Sega | 1993 | EU/ NA ver. | by Greg Martin | Master System.

Sonic Colors | Sega | 2010. (1)

Sonic Forces | Sega | 2017.

Sonic Heroes | Sega | 2003 | by Yuji Uekawa.

Sonic Jam | Sega | 1997 | EU/ NA ver. | Saturn.

Sonic Jam | Sega | 1997 | JPN ver. | Saturn. (2)

Sonic Labyrinth | Sega | 1995 | NA ver.

Sonic: Lost World | Sega | 2013.

Sonic Mania/ Plus | Sega | 2018 | by  Tom Fry | Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, Windows. (4)

Sonic Rush | Sega | 2005 | by Yuji Uekawa.

Sonic Rush Adventure | Sega | 2007 | by Yuji Uekawa.

Sonic the Hedgehog | Sega | 1991 | NA ver. | by Greg Wray | Genesis. (6)

Sonic the Hedgehog | Sega | 1991 | EU ver. | by Akira Watanabe | Mega Drive. (3)

Sonic the Hedgehog | Sega | 1991 | JPN ver. | by Akira Watanabe | Mega Drive. (15)

Sonic the Hedgehog | Sega | 1991 | JPN Game Gear ver. | by Akira Watanabe.

Sonic the Hedgehog | Sega | 1991 | EU/ NA Game Gear ver. | by Greg Martin.

Sonic the Hedgehog | Sega | 2006 | by Yuji Uekawa | PS3, Xbox 360. (5)

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 | Sega | 1992 | EU/ NA  ver. | by Greg Martin | Game Gear. (10)

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 | Sega | 1992 | JPN ver. | Game gear.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 | Sega | 1992 | EU/ NA ver. | by Greg Martin | Genesis, Mega Drive.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 | Sega | 1992 | JPN ver. | by Akira Watanabe | Mega Drive.

Sonic the Hedgehog 3 | Sega | 1994 | EU ver. | Mega Drive. (14)

Sonic the Hedgehog 3 | Sega | 1994 | JPN ver. | Mega Drive.

Sonic the Hedgehog 3 | Sega | 1994 | NA ver. | by Greg Martin | Genesis.

Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure | Sega | 1999 | by Yuji Uekawa.

Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble | Sega | 1994 | EU/ NA ver. | by Greg Martin | Game Gear.

Sonic Unleashed | Sega | 2008.












Ultimate Ghosts ‘n Goblins (極魔界村) by Shinkiro & Shoei.

Published by Capcom globally in 2006 for the PSP market.  





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This would be artist Shinkiro’s second attempt at the Ghosts ‘n Goblins series artist after the Game Boy Advance game: Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts. Although all three regions use the same artwork both Europe and North America accentuate Aurther by either enlarging the character art or dulling the background.

The character-heavy montage used here could be argued a homage to the style seen in the original 1985 arcade artwork and was created using computer art.

Sonic CD by Kazuyuki Hoshino.

Japanese artwork. First published by Sega in 1993 and for the European and Japanese markets.




This box art would introduce the Metal Sonic character (designed by Kazuyuki).  It was designed with a jet engine in mind. The Sonic art looks to have taken clues from Greg Wray’s characterisation.

The gold leaf logo was deliberately used to distinguish itself for the Mega Drive Sonic logo’s in Japan, whilst the covers overall pop art design gave it some connection. North America would tyipiacally drop the Japanese art and instead go for a Greg Martin piece.

>Pictures from left to right - Japanese box art, European box art and North American box art.

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Sonic Adventure (ソニック アドベンチャー) by Yuji Uekawa.

Japanese artwork. Published by Sega globally in 1998 for the Dreamcast market.




Sonic Adventure would mark the start of Sega’s final foray as a publisher on it’s own hardware. The character art would be the first major revision that Sega had made to Sonic. The hedgehog was now more slender, with long, exaggerated limbs and with arguably a more Japanese-anime look to boot.  

Sonic Adventure also marked the first time in the series that the cover art was used across the globe and unchanged in anyway - a testimony to the confidence Sega had in Uekawa’s designs.

Uekawa’s Sonic art would go on to be used for the best part of a decade after this, and well into Sega’s new phase as a developer/ publisher only.  

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Final Fantasy (ファイナルファンタジー) by Yoshitaka Amano.

Japanese artwork. First published by Square in 1987 for the Japanese Famicom market.  

Famicom ver. pictured.




The box art that debuted the enduring Final Fantasy (FF) series , would also be the start of Illustrator Yoshitaka Amano’s career in video games. Yoshitaka would bring FF’s delicate ukiyo-e woodblock print to life through its wispy lines and vibrant colours, and flavour it with eastern romanticism.  It was a cover art seeped in sorrow and anguish, setting the tone for one of gaming’s epic adventures.

FF’s artistry would speak volumes and be a central part of the game’s - and series’ - success’.  Amano would complement Square’s vision of explaining how video games could emotionally appeal to their audience through story and art, and helped promote the Famicom to enormous levels of success. Amano’s style of fine art was interestingly at odds with a great deal of Manga/ anime inspired Japanese box art of the day.  This is especially apparent when you compare the cover art to FF’s main competitor Dragon Quest.

Unfortunately, as with much Japanese artwork from the late 80’s, FF’s cover art would be replaced, deemed too unsuitable for the American market in 1990, and not see a western release until over a decade later.

>Pictures from left to right - Original box art, sketch and alternative colour version.

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>Box art review

Secret of Mana (聖剣伝説2) by Hiroo Isono.

Published by Squaresoft globally in 1993.  

Super Famicom ver. pictured.




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Squaresoft (now Square Enix) had always made a habit of producing poignant and thought provoking box arts (see, Final Fantasy, Alcahest and Romancing SaGa), and Mana was no different. For a game so geographically lush and a story centred on mother nature, the choice of artist, the late Hiroo Isono, would be inspired.

Hiroo’s penchant for painting forests and paradise would bring the longing world of Mana to life, and the cover art for the Super Famicom version would beautifully depict the scale and gravity of the world around those marvelling heroes.

The western release would thankfully and surprisingly retain the Japanese original, but due to the SNES’s landscape box shape, it would unfortunately crop the magnitude and awesomeness of the tree.


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