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


Video game box art and artist history database





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BOX=ART copyright ©2013 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.

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Super Aleste (スーパーアレスタ) by Naoyuki Kato.

Japanese artwork. Published by Toho Co. in 1992 for the Japanese Super Famicom market.


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Super Breakout by Cliff Spohn.

North American artwork. Published by Atari in 1981 for the global market.

Atari 2600 ver. pictured. Also available on: Atari 2800.  

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Super Double Dragon (Return of Double Dragon) Greg Winters.

North American artwork. Published by Tradewest Inc. in 1992 for the European and North American SNES markets.

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Super Mario 64 (スーパーマリオ64) by Yusuke Nakano.

Japanese artwork. Published by Nintendo globally in 1996 for the N64 market.  

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>This cover would be the first in Super Mario series to use CG art and also to be designed by Nakano.  Both computer art and Yusuke have been linked to Mario cover arts ever since.

The character art and background scenery deliberately emphasize depth and the third dimension, both of which would help revolutionise the game.


Super Mario Bros. (スーパーマリオブラザーズ) by Shigeru Miyamoto.

Japanese artwork. First published by Nintendo in 1985 for the Japanese Fmaicom market.  

Famicom ver. pictured.  Also availble on: Disk System.

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>Debut box art for the Super Mario series and the only to designed by creator Shigeru Miyamoto.

The box art would introduce stable series characters, Toad, Bowser, Koopers, Goombas and Peach.

The character heavy art design would be replicated for both Famicom sequals - penned by Yoiche Kotabe - and would also influence the original Game Boy Mario covers.  Further influencing can be found in Rock Man’s Famicom box arts.


Super Mario Bros. 3 (スーパーマリオブラザーズ3) by Yoichi Kotabe and GIRVIN.

JPN/ NA artwork. Published by Nintendo in 1990 for the European and North American NES markets.  

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>For gamers in 1990 this cover was hard to ignore with the heavy promotion Nintendo put behind it.  It is arguably, and much like its predecesor, an Iconic example of 90’s box art and characterisation.  

The Mario art would be lifted from the Japanese version - a cover too chaotic of western taste - and it would be design studio GIRVIN who brilliantly emblazened the plumber against bright yellow and applied the logo.

The cover would cap off Mario’s three NES efforts, all of which have stood the test of time.


Super Mario USA (スーパーマリオUS) by Yoichi Kotabe.

Japanese artwork. Published by Nintendo in 1992 for the Japanese Famicom market.  

>The well-documented history of Super Mario Bros 2 had Nintendo of Japan (NOJ) take its abandoned attempt for Mario’s first sequel and fashion Fuji TV’s then mascots into it calling it Yume Kōjō: Dokidoki Panic (1987).

These changes were made only for Nintendo of America to request it be made into Super Mario Bros 2 (1988) after the Japanese release of that game (The Lost Levels) was deemed too challenging. Subsequently, after the game’s success in the West, it was brought back to Japan as Super Mario USA (1992).

Interestingly, NOJ would take Dokidoki Panic’s original box art, with character art by Tadashi Sugiyama and an unknown Fuji designer, redraw the piece, so it would be more in line with Mario’s previous box arts, and replace Fuji’s characters with Yoichi Kotabe’s Mario designs.  

Being of Mario heritage Dokidoki Panic and Mario USA share obvious design traits with other Famicom Mario cover arts such as bold colouring, distinctive line work and chaotic characterisation (see Super Mario Bros 1 and 3 on the Famicom) while the box layout is vertically designed instead of horizontally, as found on the vast majority of Famicom releases.  

To finish, its pink border (which also extends to the game’s cart) is a stark reminder of how daringly colourful Japanese box art can be.

>Pictured from top - Original box art and Doki Doki Panic.

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Super Mario Bros. Deluxe (スーパーマリオブラザーズデラックス) by Yoichi Kotabe.

Japanese artwork. Published by Nintendo in 1999 for the European and North American Game Boy Color markets.

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>Possibly the final Super Mario series box art by artist Yoichi Kotabe.

The game would not see a physical release in Japan making it the only game in the series to miss out on a Japanese box art.


Super Metroid (スーパーメトロイド).

Published by Nintendo in 1994 for the the Japanese Super Famicom market.

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>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 (now 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 cover would do well in conveying the game’s grand scope and it’s achingly brutal isolation.

>Pictures from top - Super Famicom box art, original Super Famicom artwork, SNES box art and SNES sketch.   


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Super R-Type (スーパー・アールタイプ) by Steve Peringer.

North American artwork. Published by IREM American Corp in 1991 for the North American SNES market.

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Super Street Fighter II X: For Matching Service (スーパーストリートファイターIIX) by Kinu Nishimura.

Japanese artwork. Published by Capcom in 2000 for the Japanese Dreamcast market.  

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>Eschewing Street Fighters usual montage led box arts, Super Street Fighter II X: Grand Master Challenge, for Matching Service would instead depict the ever present Ryu shadowed by the mysterious – although maybe not so by 2000 – Akuma.  

Meaning devil in Japanese, Akuma would poignantly be upturned alluding the demonic connection both characters are consumed by. The two hand drawn black and white sketches were originally used in 1994 as promotional material for the release of Super Street Fighter II X, and were composed by Capcom steward Kinu as part of a collection of sixteen character artworks.

Along with artist Bengus, who provided the box arts for the worldwide 3DO versions, Kinu’s sketches would portray a grittier take on Ryu and company. It ended up being an abstract, and unique, styalistic blip in an otherwise usually formulaic sea of bold and colourful Street Fighter cover arts.


Super Street Fighter IV by Daigo Ikeno.

Japanese artwork. Published by Capcom in 2010 for the European and Japanese markets.

PS3 ver. pictured. Also available on: Xbox 360.  

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Super Star Wars by Tom Chantrell.

North American artwork. Published by JVC Musical Industries Inc. globally in 1992.  

SNES ver. pictured.  Also availble on: Game Boy, Super Famicom.

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>This box art would recommission Chantrell’s famous “Style C” one sheet poster for the original movie release in 1977.


Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers by Muraoka Satoshi.

Japanese artwork. Published by Capcom in 1994 for the Japanese market.  

Super Famciom ver. pictured.  Also availble on: Mega Drive.

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>Capcom would break trends and use renowned manga artist Muraoka Satoshi instead of one of its in-house illustrators.

The box art is made up of character art used in the Street Fighter anime movie that was released shortly after, indicating some promotional tie between game and movie.

The European and North America version would again see artist Mick McGinty take the reigns producing his final (and weakest) Street Fighter box art.

Japanese home computers the Sharp X68000 and FM Towns would use manual art from Street Fighter II: Special Champion Edition as box art (by Shoei).


Super Street Fighter II X (スーパーストリートファイターIIX) by Kinu Nishimura.

Japanese artwork. Published by Capcom in 1994 for the Japanese 3DO market.  

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>Exclusively used for the Japanese 3DO market, the box arts montage style would would be at odds with usual Street Fighter cover arts, but all the stronger for it.

Drawn in pen and made up of a individual character artworks, the box art’s X would also add a styalised approch.

Kinu would get to reuse an artwork from the same session six years later with the limited release, Super Street Fighter II X: For Matching Service.

The North American release would use an artwork by Bengus and marks the only time a Japanese artwork adorned an American Street Fighter II game.


Super Street Fighter II: Turbo Revival (スーパーストリートファイターIIX リバイバル) by Edayan (Shinya Edaki).

Japanese artwork. Published by Capcom in 2001 for the European and North American GBA markets.

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Super Valis IV (SUPER ヴァリス 赤き月の乙女) by Julie Bell.

North American artwork. Published by Atlus in 1993 for the North American SNES market.

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Superman by Curt Swan.

North American artwork. Published by Atari in 1979 for the European and North American Atari VCS markets.  

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>Atari would capitalise on the Hollywood phenomena, Superman: The Movie (1978), with Superman - the worlds first superhero video game.

Its box art would use comic art cut from the 1976, 300th Superman comic by DC artist Curt Swan.

It would mark the first time an artist outside of Atari’s in-house art team was used, and the first time a recommissioned artwork was licenced.

>Pictures from top - Original box art and 300th Superman comic.


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Susan Jaekel.  North American box artist from 1977-1980.

Susan would break into the video game industry through fellow Atari artist - and later husband - Rick Guidice, joining the debuting team of illustrators in 1977 when the VCS shipped.  Her first cover, Basic Maths, would showcase a more stylised, cartooned look compared to the other launch box arts, with an appeal towards Atari’s younger gamers (her background was children’s book work). She would work with the company until 1980, producing the popular and enduring Adventure cover.

All of her cover arts were designed using Dr. Martin’s dyes on illustration board.

Susan is at present the earliest know female box artist.

3-D Tic-Tac-Toe | Atari | 1980.

Adventure | Atari | 1980.

Basic Math (Fun With Numbers) | Atari | 1977.

Circus Atari | Atari | 1980.

Hangman | Atari | 1978.

Hunt and Score (Concentration) | Atari | 1978.

Susan Rowe.  English box artist from 1983-1985.

Joining video game publisher Quicksilva and its growing list of artists in 1981, Susan would become one of the earliest box artists in Europe - and possibly the first female.  

Not only would her love for the fantastical and for Wizards be obvious from her cover art output but also her artistic taste for the whimsical. Created using watercolour her cover arts would standout from the industries then reliance on air-brushed compositions.

She is also the wife of David John Rowe who was one of the period’s high profile box artists.

Castle of Jasoom | Quicksilva | 1984.

Dungeons of BA | Accelerated Software | 1984.

Fairlight II | The Edge | 1986.

Mighty Magus | Quicksilva | 1985.

Velnor’s Lair | Quicksilva | 1983.

Wizard, The | Quicksilva | 1983.

Wizardry | The Edge | 1985.

Susumu Matsushita.  Japanese box artist from 1983-2017.

Growing up in Tokyo and training in industrial design, Susumu would get his break in the late 1970’s producing cover arts for Japan’s Popeye and Young Jump magazines. The latter publication’s #1 issue would sport Susumu’s first popular character, Mac Bear.  Mac’s look would be heavily influenced by the American comics Susumu grew up with, and helped cement the artist’s reputation for illustrating colourful, anthropomorphic animal characters. With Tokyo Disneyland opening in 1983, the Japanese would fall in love with these Americanised animal characters and Susumu’s career would go from strength to strength.

The earliest known box art is Computer Othello (1983) for Sony’s HIT BIT range on the MSX platform.  It would portray a busty, vixen with overtly large and engrossing eyes, a somewhat enduring character trademark of the artist. The MSX platform’s popularity would see many machines produced across Europe and Susumu’s covers would make it west intact.  It is thus some of the earliest – if not the earliest – Japanese box art released in Europe, and Susumu would certainly become the first high profile box artist to have art used overseas.

To coincide with the release of Nintendo‘s Famicom in 1986 Japan’s first and still most revered gaming magazine Famitsu would be published in August of that year. Susumu would become the main cover artist from issue #3 and from issue #7 he would create one of Japan’s most recognisable characters Necky the fox, the magazine’s mascot.  Necky’s popularity would establish the artist as one of Japan’s premier character designers.

Adventure Island | Hudson | 1986.

Adventure Island | Hudson | 1988.

Adventure Island: Part II | Hudson | 1991. (2)

Adventure Island III | Hudson | 1992.

Adventure Island IV | Hudson | 1994.

Alibaba and the 40 Thieves | Sony | 1984.

Backgammon | Sony | 1984.

Best Play Baseball, The | ASCII Corp. | 1988.

Best Play Baseball II, The | ASCII Corp. | 1990.

Best Play Baseball ‘90, The | ASCII Corp. | 1990.

Best Play Baseball Special, The | ASCII Corp. | 1988.

Chess | Sony | 1984.

Computer Othello | Sony | 1983. (5)

Derby Stallion II | ASCII Corp. | 1994.

Derby Stallion III | ASCII Corp. | 1990.

Derby Stallion ‘96 | ASCII Corp. | 1996. (4)

Derby Stallion: Best Race | ASCII Corp. | 1991.

Derby Stallion: National Edition | ASCII Corp. | 1992.

Down the World: Mervil’s Ambition | ASCII Corp. | 1994.

Elfaria | Huson Soft | 1993. (3)

Elfaria II | Huson Soft | 1995.

Game ABC game Programming Master | Sony | 1984.

Ikinari Musician | Tokyo Shoseki Co. | 1987.

Maximo vs Army of Zin | Capcom | 2003 | JPN ver. (1)

Maximo vs Army of Zin | Capcom | 2004 | EU/ NA ver.

Maximo: Ghosts to Glory | Capcom | 2001 | JPN ver.

Maximo: Ghosts to Glory | Capcom | 2002 | EU/ NA ver

Monkey Magic | Sun Corp. | 1999.

Monkey Magic | Sun Corp | 2000.

Motor Toon Grand Prix | Sony | 1994.

Motor Toon Grand Prix | Sony | 1996 | NA ver.

Motor Toon Grand Prix II | Sony | 1996 | EU/ JPN ver. (8)

Navy Blue ‘90 | Use Corp. | 1990.

New Adventure Island | Hudson | 1992.

Puzzle Mate: Oekaki Mate | Compile Heart | 2008.

Puzzle Mate: Nampure Mate | Compile Heart | 2008.

Puzzle Mate: Crossword Mate | Compile Heart | 2008.

Shadows of Tusk | Hudson Soft | 1998. (6)

Super Adventure Island | Hudson | 1992.

Super Adventure Island II | Hudson | 1994.

Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts | Capcom | 1991.

Tiny Barbarian DX | Starquail | 2017. (7)

Willy Wombat | Hudson Soft | 1997.

Wonder B-Cruise | SunSoft | 1999.

It would also be this year that he’d create the Susumu Matsushita Enterprises Company, bringing on board assistant artists to help with the demanding workload. 1986 also saw the artist design the cover for the first Adventure Island game.  It would be a wonderful explosion of characters, colour and chaos that would be replicated on not only all subsequent series covers but the majority of Matsushita designs.

The artist’s next big series’ would be the Japanese only Derby Stallion (1991) and Motor Toon Grandprix (1994).  More modern gamer through will probably remember the concept work Susumu did for Capcom’s Maximo series (2001-2004).  The art is darker than his usual work and would be used to portray the in-game characters also.  The artist would additionally be responsible for the game’s logo.

Well known as a traditional media artist, Susumu will normally sketch out a design in acrylic paint before applying oils by airbrush.  The process of designing a composition is a complex one of layering paint using delicate stencils so to achieve crisp lines.  Of greatest importance is the attention given to the characters expressions.

Outside of video game box art work the artist is well known for producing promotional characters for Japan’s Space World resort, character and logo designs for Japanese sporting teams, as well as his continuing work with Famitsu.









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Super Mario. Nintendo video game series from 1985-2017.

New Super Mario Bros. | Nintendo | 2006.

New Super Mario Bros. 2 | Nintendo | 2012. (7)

New Super Mario Bros. U | Nintendo | 2012.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii | Nintendo | 2009.

Super Mario 3D Land | Nintendo | 2011

Super Mario 3D World | Nintendo | 2013.

Super Mario 64 | Nintendo | 1996 | JPN ver | by Yusuke Nakano.

Super Mario 64 | Nintendo | 1996 | EU/ NA ver | by Yusuke Nakano.

Super Mario 64 DS | Nintendo | 2004 | EU/ NA ver.

Super Mario 64 DS | Nintendo | 2004 | JPN ver.

Super Mario Bros. | Nintendo | 1985 | Famicom ver | by Shigeru Miyamoto. (4)

Super Mario Bros. | Nintendo | 1985 | NES ver. (5)

Super Mario Bros. 2 | Nintendo | 1988 | by Shigeru Miyamoto and GIRVIN.

Super Mario Bros. 3 | Nintendo | 1988 | Famicom ver | by Yoichi Kotabe.

Super Mario Bros. 3 | Nintendo | 1990 | NES ver | by Yoichi Kotabe and GIRVIN. (1)

Super Mario Bros. Deluxe | Nintendo | 1999 | by Yoichi Kotabe. (2)

Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels | Nintendo | 1986 | by Yoichi Kotabe.

Super Mario Galaxy | Nintendo | 2007. (6)

Super Mario Galaxy 2 | Nintendo | 2010.

Super Mario Land | Nintendo | 1989 | by Yoichi Kotabe. (8)

Super Mario Land 2 | Nintendo | 1992 | by Yoichi Kotabe.

Super Mario Odyssey | Nintendo | 2017.

Super Mario Sunshine | Nintendo | 2002.

Super Mario USA | Nintendo | 1992 | by Yoichi Kotabe.

Super Mario World | Nintendo | 1990 | Super Famicom ver | by Yoichi Kotabe.

Super Mario World | Nintendo | 1991 | SNES ver | by Yoichi Kotabe. (3)

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island | Nintendo | 1995 | SNES ver.

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island | Nintendo | 1995 | Super Famicom ver.

Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 | Nintendo | 1994 | by Yusuke Nakano.









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