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.
BOX=ART copyright ©2013 Adam Gidney. All rights reserved. Hosted by Dathorn.
BOX=ART quick menus
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.
Founded in 1983 by Masashi Myamoto at the dawn of the Famicom era, Square’s initial games and box arts would be uninspiring.
Very few games prior to Final Fantasy (1987) would make it overseas, but interestingly its first to do so, King’s Knight (1986), would release in the States and retained its original Japanese box art.
King’s Knight 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 suitable versions for western released games.
This disparaging neglect for the Japanese art became most obvious with Final Fantasy’s debut game and subsequent sequels, whose Famicom box arts and conceptual art were the genesis of famed illustrator Yoshitaka Amano.
>Final Fantasy (JP) Famicom. (YA)
>Final Fantasy II (JP) Famicom. (YA)
>Final Fantasy III (JP) Famicom. (YA)
>Romancing SaGa (JP) Super Famicom. (TK)
>Secret of Mana (worldwide) SNES, Super Famicom. (HI)
>Alcahest (JP) Super Famicom.
>Final Fantasy IV (JP) Super Famicom. (YA)
>Live a Live (JP) Super Famicom. (RM)
>Chrono Trigger (JP) Super Famicom. (AT)
>Front Mission (JP) Super Famicom. (YA)
>Bahamut Lagoon (JP) Super Famicom. (HS)
>Front Mission: Gun Hazard (JP) Super Famicom. (YA)
>Final Fantasy VII (EU/ JP) PlayStation. (YA)
>Sokaigi (JP) PlayStation. (NS)
>Vagrant Story (worldwide) PlayStation. (AY)
>Kingdom Hearts (EU/ NA) PlayStation 2. (TN)
Notable Square box artists
>Akihiro Yoshida (AY)
>Akira Toriyama (AT)
>Hiroo Isono (HI)
>Hiroo Sasaki (HS)
>Nao Ikeda (NI)
Sources and further reading:
Related BOX=ART pages.
>Natsuki Sumeragi (NS)
>Ryogi Minagawa (RM)
>Tetsuya Nomara (TN)
>Tomoni Kobyashi (TK)
>Yoshitaka Amano (YA)
BOX=ART profiles cover art history behind one of Japans great Role Playing Game publishers and the home of Final Fantasy.
Where its Japanese competition such as Konami (Metal Gear), Capcom (Resident Evil) and Sega (Golden Axe) were westernising their characters and subsequently box arts also, Square would maintain a wholly eastern feel to artworks created.
This would be due to a majority of 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 stories were always rooted in modern Japanese mythology and sci-fi, and subsequently demanded regional specific characterisation.
Notable box arts published by Square.
His delicate ukiyo-e woodblock cover arts elevated the series artistically beyond much of the competition, but incredibly were unavailable to the West until the late 1990’s.
In replacement, weapon-littered box arts proliferated the western released Final Fantasy games, (see Final Fantasy NES 1990, Final Fantasy Adventure/ Mystic Adventure, Game Boy 1991, The Final Fantasy Legend Game Boy 1991 and Final Fantasy III SNES 1994), and were the creation of Nintendo of America.
Square of Japan realising the strength in quality fine art, would hire a broad spectrum of Japan’s masters of illustration to bring the companies 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 fine artistry, whilst more anime themed box arts, Live a Live (Ryogi Minagawa) 1994 and Chrono Trigger (Akira Toriyama) 1995, showed the publishers lighter side.
Front Mission: Gunhazard by Yoshitaka Amano| published 1996 exclusively for the Super Famicom market.
Final Fantasy III by Yoshitaka Amano| 1990| Square| This final Final Fantasy box art on the Famicom would fittingly complete the trio of Amano covers and help influence the series’ art direction to this day. The followup, Final Fantasy IV, would also be an Amano and take full advantage of the extra cover space afforded on the Super Famicom boxes. Sokaigi by Natsuki Sumeragi| 1998| Squaresoft.
Kingdom Hearts by Tetsuya Nomura| 2002| Squaresoft| Nomura’s art direction would be put to excellent use in this cover blending western and eastern sensibilities perfectly.
Updated - 08/11/15, by Adam Gidney
Vagrant Story by Akihiro Yoshida and Hataraku Cocobo| both 2000. Alcahest| 1993| All Squaresoft.
Secret of Mana by Hiroo Isono| 1993| Squaresoft| The late artists crowning box art achievement. Known for his lush forest paintings Isono would be an inspired choice to portray the dense, colourfully world of Mana. He would also be responsible for the later Dawn of Mana cover (JP ver.).
With Final Fantasy VII’s major global success, the West finally started to wake up to the Yoshitaka’s wonderful art, as later released anthologies and remakes used his original art. Meanwhile, European and Japanese Final Fantasy covers would use striking titles and silhouetted figurines to push the series forwards, while America opted instead for character-driven computer 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.