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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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 from a variety of angles 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.


Following on from the success Nintendo had with its homeland Famicom release in 1983, the NES would storm the US market in 1985 and help jump start a collapsed US video game industry.


To differenuate the NES’s games from other American ones (Atari 2600, Intellivion etc...) Nintendo of America (NOA) would come up with the iconic pixel box art design that proliferated Nintendo’s first and second party outputs from 1985 until 1987’s Rad Racer. These early box arts were key in explaining to initial adopters exactly would kind of game they were purcahsing. You had a graphical example, the type of game listed and the famous Nintendo Seal of Quality emblazened in gold authenticaing the product as of Nintendo quality (more on this HERE).


The company started to move away from this design style with The Legend of Zelda’s iconic box art (1987) being the first, and in doing so started to compete with the other Japanese publishers such as Data East, Capcom, Bandai and Konami who since late 1986 had been producing their own western friendly box arts.  


Tag Team Wrestling (1986) would not only be one of first non-Nintendo produced NES games but would also be the first  to come with a box art by a high profile US comic artist: Frank Cirocco. In contrast Capcom’s Ghost’s ‘n Goblins would be the US’s first taste of a Famicom (and thus Japanese) box art to make it across the pond unscathed. Konami would follow suit with Gradius (1986).


Taking note of Nintendo’s early box art ‘branding’ efforts and also looking further back, for example, at Atari’s and Activisions, companies such as Capcom (1942, Commando), SNK (Ikari Warriors, Guerilla War) and Bandai (Chubbly Cherub, Ninja kid) would produce their first wave of NES covers with distinct and individual package designs.  It would be a trend that carried on throughout the 1980’s but little used in the 90’s.   


Come the beginning of the 1990’s with Sega’s Mega Drive/ Genesis and Nintendo’s own SNES available and both vying for a more adult market share, the NES’s box art catalogue would start to emphasise the consoles more young-child focus.  From the 1991 until 1994 the majority of box arts would be cartoon themed or adorned with adolescent branded characters.


The beginnng of 90’s also saw Japanese Manga style box arts appear such as Parodius and Arkista’s Ring (both 1990) a trend that throughout the decade would become more and more popular.


The final NES box art would suitably be a Nintendo effort in Wario Woods (1994).


Overview

With the NES Nintendo would recapture the magic Atari had with its VCS, but the Kyoto giant would go on to eclipse the former powerhouse, and part of this success was due to the bold, fun NES box arts.

BOX=ART hardware

 >Nintendo Entertainment System

Related BOX=ART pages.


Notable and influential NES box arts, 1985 - 1994.  

Please note. Box arts were exclusively for the NES on original release.

>Click on images below  to enlarge.


Posted - 15/06/16, by Adam Gidney

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Super Mario Bros.

1985

By NOA


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Super Mario Bros. 3

1990

By Yoichi Kotabe


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Defenders of Dynatron City

1992

By Steve Purcell


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8 Eyes

1990

By Frank Cirocco


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Arkista’s Ring

1990

By -


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The Legend of Zelda

1986

By Timothy Girvin


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Dragon Warrior II

1990

By -


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Swords and Serpents

1989

By Boris Vallejo


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Super Mario Bros. 2

1988

By Yoichi Kotabe


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The Punisher

1990

By -


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ZEN: Intergalatic Ninja

1993

By Jim Fletcher


Parodius

1990

By -


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Burai Fighter

1990

By Frank Cirocco


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Guerilla War

1989

By Marc William Ericksen


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Mega Man 2

1989

By Marc William Ericksen


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Star Wars

1991

By John Berkley


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Flying Dragon

1989

By -


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Power Blade

1991

By Michael J Winterbauer


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Snake’s Revenge

1990

By Tom Dubois


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M.U.L.E

1990

By -


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Silver Surfer

1990

By Joe Jusko


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Kings Quest V

1992

By -


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Gyruss

1988

By Tomo Yamamoto


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The Mutant Virus

1992

By -


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Time Lord

1990

By -


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Bomberman

1987

By -




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Wario Woods

1994

By -


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Tag Team Wrestling

1986

By Frank Cirocco


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Gauntet

1987

By Joseph Chiodo


Super Mario series box art page| BOX=ART

Super Mario series page

80's gallery page| BOX=ART

80’s gallery page

American box art page| BOX=ART

Americ as gallery page

Box art from publisher Nintendo page| BOX=ART

Ninten do publish er page

Categories: Fantasy| Konami| Nintendo

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Dracula’s Curse

1990

By Tom Dubois