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.
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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.
BOX=ART profiles a Japanese legend of illustration, Susumu Matsushita.
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.
Computer Othello published in 1983 by Sony. The artists earliest known box art. It would be used on both the Japanese and European releases.
Adventure Island II published in 1991 by Hudson Soft. One of many covers Susumu would design for the Adventure Island series. It is a great, and typical, example of his character art and overall composition.
Shadows of the Tusk published in 1998 by Hudson.
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.
“He would create one of Japan’s most recognisable characters, Necky the fox”
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.
If you like Susumu’s art you’ll love…
The designer of many beloved box arts from the 16-bit period and Ocean Software’s main promotional artist.
The BOX=ART review for Zavier Lesile Cabarga’s animation inspired artwork for Nintendo’s Donkey Kong.
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.
Updated - 17/06/2017 by Adam Gidney
Motor Toon Grand Prix II published in 1996 by Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.
Monkey Magic published in 2000 by Sunsoft.
Maximo vs Army of Zin published in 2003 by Capcom. Arguably the artist’s last high profile series and a great example of Susumu’s flair for character art that isn’t anthropomorphic. Additionally, Susumu’s designs would translate across to the in game character models.
Derby Stallion ‘96 published in 1996 by ASCii Soft.
Susumu Matsushita box art catalogue.
>Computer Othello (JP) MSX.
>Alibaba and the 40 Thieves (EU/ JP) MSX.
>Backgammon (EU/ JP) MSX.
>Chess (EU/ JP) MSX.
>Game ABC game Programming Master (JP) MSX.
>Adventure Island (JP/ NA) Famicom, Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, MSX, NES.
>Ikinari Musician (JP) Famicom.
>Adventure Island (EU) NES.
>The Best Play Baseball (JP) Famicom.
>The Best Play Baseball Special (JP) Famicom.
>Navy Blue ‘90 (JP) Game Boy.
>The Best Play Baseball ‘90 (JP) Famicom.
>The Best Play Baseball II (JP) Famicom.
>Adventure Island Part II (EU/ JP) Famicom, Game Boy, NES.
>Derby Stallion: Best Race (JP) Famicom.
>Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts (JP) Super Famicom.
>Adventure Island III (JP) Famicom, Game Boy.
>Derby Stallion: National Edition (JP) Famicom.
>Super Adventure Island (worldwide) SNES, Super Famicom.
>Elfaria (JP) Super Famicom.
>Adventure Island IV (JP) Famicom.
>Derby Stallion II (JP) Super Famicom.
>Down the World: Mervil’s Ambition (JP) Super Famicom.
>Motor Toon Grand Prix (JP) PlayStation.
>Super Adventure Island II (worldwide) SNES, Super Famicom.
>Derby Stallion III (JP) Super Famicom.
>Elfaria II (JP) Super Famicom.
>Derby Stallion ‘96 (JP) Super Famicom.
>Motor Toon Grand Prix (NA) PlayStation.
>Motor Toon Grand Prix II (EU/ JP) PlayStation.
>Willy Wombat (JP) Saturn.
>Shadows of the Tusk (JP) Saturn.
>Monkey Magic (NA) PlayStation.
>Wonder B-Cruise (JP) PlayStation.
>Monkey Magic (JP) PlayStation.
>Maximo: Ghosts to Glory (JP) PlayStation 2.
>Maximo: Ghosts to Glory (NA) PlayStation 2.
>Maximo vs Army of Zin (JP) PlayStation 2.
>Maximo vs Army of Zin (EU/ NA) PlayStation 2.
>Puzzle Mate: Oekaki Mate (JP) Nintendo DS.
>Puzzle Mate: Nampure Mate (JP) Nintendo DS.
>Puzzle Mate: Crossword Mate (JP) Nintendo DS.
>Tiny Barbarian DX (worldwide) Nintendo Switch.
Sources and further reading.
Related BOX=ART pages.
BOX=ART reviews the Japanese exclusive cover for Nintendo’s little known Super Mario game.