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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: Vi
>Box art review
Viewtiful Joe (ビューティフル ジョー Byūtifuru Jō) by Kumiko Suekane.
Japanese artwork. Published by Capcom in 2003 for the European GameCube market.
Character designer Kumiko would be inspired specifically by 1960s and 1970s Japanese-costumed tokusatsu television shows such as Kamen Rider and Ultraman, when briefed with Joe. Her art has been the basis for the entire series.
Capcom of Europe would take the unusual step of releasing Viewtiful Joe on the GameCube with a pink background box art (shown) and also a yellow background box art. The same character art can be found on the US releases and the European PS2 version.
Viewtiful Joe | Capcom | 2003 | EU ver. | Pink and yellow covers | by Kumiko Suekane | GameCube.
Viewtiful Joe | Capcom | 2003 | JPN ver. | by Kumiko Suekane | GameCube.
Viewtiful Joe | Capcom | 2003 | NA ver. | by Kumiko Suekane | GameCube, PS2.
Viewtiful Joe | Capcom | 2004 | EU ver. | by Kumiko Suekane | PS2.
Viewtiful Joe 2 | Capcom | 2004 | JPN ver. | by Kumiko Suekane | GameCube, PS2.
Viewtiful Joe 2 | Capcom | 2004 | NA ver. | by Kumiko Suekane | GameCube, PS2. (3)
Viewtiful Joe 2 | Capcom | 2005 | EU ver. | by Kumiko Suekane | GameCube, PS2.
Viewtiful Joe: A New Hope | Capcom | 2004 | by Kumiko Suekane | PS2. (4)
Viewtiful Joe: Double trouble! | Capcom | 2005 | by Kumiko Suekane | Nintendo DS. (1)
Viewtiful Joe: Red Hot Rumble | Capcom | 2005 | JPN/ NA ver. | by Kumiko Suekane | GameCube, Sony PSP. (2)
Viewtiful Joe: Red Hot Rumble | Capcom | 2005 | EU ver. | by Kumiko Suekane | GameCube, Sony PSP.
Viewtiful Joe: Revival | Capcom | 2003 | by Kumiko Suekane | GameCube.
>Box art catalogue
Video game series index: Ve
Competition in the late 70’s was far from stiff compared to today’s crowded scene, but established machines such as Magnavox’s Odyssey and Fairchild’s Channel F did provide early gaming rivalry for the VCS. A part of the VCS’ wild popularity compared to these machines was the inspired artworks that adorned debuting titles such as Combat, Star Ship, Street Racer. For the first time the basic pixelated world on screen was vividly brought to life through box art, providing a much-needed window to fuel gaming imaginations.
Pioneering artists such as Cliff Spohn and Susan Jaekel brought traditional art techniques to the table and successfully produced exciting montages with Hollywood inspired movie poster finishes. Atari’s art team, headed by James Kelly, would also brand early cover arts with a distinct coloured banner, whilst early box layout interestingly eschewed the need to heavily promote the console’s name compared to the Odyssey, Channel F and later Odyssey2. In fact, launch box arts Surround, Star Ship and Indy 500 removed the VCS credit altogether.
Capitalising on the just released movie phenomena, Superman (1978), the VCS would be the first gaming machine to use a comic book hero in a game with Superman (1978). Its box art would use the man of steel’s images cut from the 1976 300th issue by artist Curt Swan, and would mark the first time an artist outside of Atari’s collective was used.
The start of the 1980’s saw the world’s first 3rd party publisher Activision release the exclusive Dragster on the VCS, and with it one of gaming’s most recognisable box art designs. Its brash and bold palette would instantly stand out from Atari’s pastle-toned cover arts and would distinctly brand Activision’s games up until 1982.
In 1980 Atari released the world’s first licenced video game, Space Invaders. The mega hit‘s established Japanese characterisation unfortunately would not be used in North America and marked the start of it’s long, and at times shaky history of reinterpreting eastern character art. Also that year the world’s first celebrity likeness would be used in the Pele endorsed Pele’s Soccer (by James Kelly). The newly named Atari 2600 in 1982 would boast another box art first in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Painted by James Kelly it would be the world’s first movie licenced video game cover art, and Harrison Ford the first movie star to be immortalised by box art.
The following year saw Nintendo’s Mario depicted for the first time in the West in Mario Bros (Colco’s Donkey Kong release the year before still christened its hero as ‘Jumpman’). It would end up being one of a few examples of the plumber appearing on non-Nintendo hardware.
The video game crash of 1983 would have a great impact on the American video game industry and 2600 box art. The aftermath meant little US video game production happened between 1984 and 1985, by which time Nintendo’s NES had released and dominated the market. The resurged interest in the video gaming did lead to further game production for the 2600 but weak cover art design that had little artistic merit would help the 2600’s slow decline. By 1990 Atari’s pioneering machine had run its course.
>Box art history
>Select box art catalogue
Asteroids | Atari | 1981 | by Chris Kenyon. (6)
Breakout | Atari | 1978 | by Cliff Spohn.
Defender | Atari | 1981 | by Steve Hendricks. (2)
Dragster | Activision | 1980. (9)
Mario Bros. | Atari | 1983 | by Hiro Kimura.
Night Driver | Atari | 1980 | by Steve Hendricks.
Pele’s Soccer | Atari | 1980 | by James Kelly. (4)
Pitfall! | Activision | 1982.
Raiders of the Lost Ark | Atari | 1982 | by James Kelly. (1)
Slot Racers | Atari | 1978 | by John Enright.
Sky Diver | Atari | 1978 | by Greg Vance.
Solar Storm | Imagic | 1983 | by Michael Becker. (8)
Solaris | Atari | 1986.
Space Invaders | Atari | 1980.
Star Ship | Atari | 1977 | by Cliff Spohn.
Star Wars: The Emipire Strikes Back | Parker Brothers | 1982. (3)
Super Breakout | Atari | 1981 | by Cliff Spohn. (5)
Superman | Atari | 1978 | by Curt Swan. (10)
Tac-Scan | Sega | 1983.
Vanguard | Atari | 1982 | Ralph Mcquarrie. (7)
>Box art review
Dragster would be the worlds first 3rd party video game release. Its distinctive use of bold colour and strong, simple design would be in sharp contrast to Atari’s cluttered, painterly efforts that had helped make the Atari VCS a roaring success (see Night Driver and Missile Command).
The use of rainbow colours would be repeated on future releases and gave Activision’s early covers a strong design brand.
At present, information about the studio and the artist/s that were responsible for Dragster’s design is lost.
Superman by Curt Swan.
Published by Atari in 1979 for the European and North American Atari VCS markets.
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 left to right - Original box art and 300th Superman comic.
Demons Forge, The | Saber Software | 1981 | Apple II. (1)
Demons Forge, The
Spanish artwork. Published by Saber Software in 1981 for the North American Apple II market.
The legendary designer Brian Fargo’s first video game, The Demon’s Forge would be home to a box art of extraordinary detail and beauty.
Its high level of artistry would raise the bar on what had come before it, and gave an early taste of a style of art that post mid-80’s proliferated in the industry.
Painted in oils by Spanish artist Vicente Segrelles, it would be an early example (if not the earliest) of a recommissioned artwork used as a box art. Originally the cover art to Segrelles fantasy epic El Mercenario #3: Los Juicios (1980), it is also presently the earliest known example of a European artist’s art adorning an American video game.
The artwork was exclusively used for the Apple II, North American release, with the later PC Booster port (1987) getting a completely new cover art (by Oli Frey) that paid little stylistic homage to the original - but is still rather good - and is the artists only known box art to date.
>Box art catalogue
>Box art review
Duke Nukem: Zero Hour | GT Interactive | 1999 | Nintendo 64. (1)
Duke Nukem: Zero Hour
Published by GT Interactive in 1999 for the European and North American Nintendo 64 markets.
>Pictured from left to right - box art, original prilim sketch and Duke Nukem: Zero Hour promotional artwork (also a Gadino).
>Box art review
>Box art catalogue