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 one of the most revered Japanese illustrators of his generation, the legendary Yoshitaka Amano who has inspired the world over with his timeless box art and stunning characterisation.
Final Fantasy VI’s (1994) box art saw Amano’s art return and in fine form, but it would be the last time until the plethora of compilations and remakes, from the PlayStation era onwards, started using his works.
They would amazingly be the first time western gamers accessed Yoshitaka’s original cover arts, with North America’s Final Fantasy 1-3’s box arts (Europe never received the NES and SNES games) having little to no connection with his artistic vision.
Amano would turn his hand to another Square series in 1995: Front Mission. The debut box art and sequel, Front Mission: Gun Hazard (1996), saw a grittier characterisation compared to Fantasy’s heroes and heroines, but would still unmistakably be a part of “Amano’s World” *, with their fragile and slight demeanours, petite facial features and pale skin tones.
Outside of Square, Yoshitaka teamed up with Capcom on its Japanese only episodic game El Dorado Gate in 2000. His characterisation, while again displaying many familiar traits, would be executed in contrast to previous box arts with a distinct anime inspired look of heavier line work and shading which also complimented the cel-shading found in-game.
Post El Dorado Gate his box art catalogue has been exclusively Final Fantasy based, however it would return to the traditional painted style of the debut’s cover art, using watercolour and ink. Interestingly the artist has stated how he is unsure the medium of computer art can realise his artistic ambitions.
With his open appreciation for western art from 60’s comic books to art nouveau inspiring his works, Yoshitaka has rightly pointed out that his trans-Atlantic success over the past twenty years has been down to the blurring of both eastern and western art styles; a style that has helped creatively distinguish one of video games most enduring and iconic series’ and bring attention to a classic box artist.
* A fan’s description of his corpus of work being part of a created fictional world, something the artist attests to.
>Final Fantasy (JP/ EU) Famicom, PlayStation.
>First Queen (JP) PC-98, X68000, Windows.
>Silver Ghost (JP) PC-88, Sharp X-1.
>Duel (JP) PC-88, PC-98.
>Final Fantasy III (JP) Famicom.
>First Queen II (JP) PC-98, X68000.
>Ys (JP) X68000.
>Kawanakajima Ibunroku (JP) PC-98.
>First Queen III (JP) PC-98.
>Final Fantasy IV (JP) Super Famicom.
>Front Mission (JP) Super Famicom.
>Front Mission: Gun Hazard (JP) Super Famicom.
>Final Fantasy VII (EU/ JP) PlayStation.
>Kartia: The Word of Fate (JP/ NA) PlayStation.
>Final Fantasy Anthology (NA) PlayStation.
>El Dorado Gate vol 1 - 2 (JP) Dreamcast.
>El dorado Gate vol 3 - 7 (JP) Dreamcast.
>Final Fantasy Anthology: European Edition (EU) PlayStation.
>Front Mission 1st (JP) PlayStation.
>Front Mission Online (JP) PlayStation 2, Windows.
>Final Fantasy IV Advance (JP) Game Boy Advance.
>Final Fantasy IV Advance (EU/ NA) Game Boy Advance.
>Final Fantasy XI Online (JP) PlayStation 2.
>Final Fantasy V Advance (worldwide) Game Boy Advance.
>Final Fantasy VI Advance (worldwide) Game Boy Advance.
>Final Fantasy XI Online: Wings of the Goddess (worldwide) PlayStation 2, Xbox 360, Windows.
>Final Fantasy XIV Online (Collectors Edition) (worldwide) Windows.
>Final Fantasy Type-o (JP) PSP.
>Final Fantasy XIV Online: A Realm Reborn (Collectors Edition) (worldwide) PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Windows.
Sources and further reading.
Related BOX=ART pages.
Updated - 05/10/2015 by Adam Gidney
Yoshitaka Amano box art catalogue.
Moving to Tokyo as a young teenager, Yoshitaka would take up his first artistic position with famed animation studio Tatsunoko in 1967. His fifteen-year tenure with them saw him develop into the then unheard role of character designer, pencilling such classics as Gatchaman and Cashaan.
It would be a time spent developing his trademark style of delicate wispy lines, bold comic book inspired colouring and effeminate looking characters.
After Tatsunoko, Amano would freelance providing fantasy novel cover arts and would create one of his most enduring designs in heroic vampeel, D, finding worldwide recognition with the titular character’s debut anime: Vampire Hunter D (1985).
In 1987 he joined fledgling developer Square as a promotional illustrator and character designer for its latest game, Final Fantasy (1987). His delicate block painting on Fantasy’s debut box art would not only become symphonious with the beloved series in the East but also, for that time, raise the standard of Japanese cover art artistry.
The following year would see him work with Japanese studio KSK where he applied a similar fantasy look to flag ship title First Queen and its two following sequels (the reigns were then taken by artist Jun Suemi).
He would be enlisted for further KSK box arts such as Kawanakajima Ibunroku (1992), Duel (1989) and Silver Ghost (1988) adding what could be argued is one of the few highlights of the company’s gaming catalogue.
With the success of Final Fantasy, Square set about turning the game into a series and Yoshitaka’s artwork would be used on the Famicom releases of Final Fantasy II and III (1988 and 1990). Strangely, IV and V’s box arts on the Super Famicom (1991 and 1992) eschewed his illustrations in favour of character art reminiscing their equivalent in-game sprites. Final Fantasy IV would though start the artist’s long running tradition of title and logo design that has proliferated in all main series box arts to this day.
First Queen II| 1990| KSK| The artist would be responsible for the first three box arts in the series before passing duties to Jun Suemi.
Final Fantasy II| 1987| Square.
El Dorado Gate. vol 1| 2000| Capcom| The first in a series of box arts all by Amano. The more anime style would be a welcome and distinct break from his usual artistry.
Final Fantasy Anthology: European Edition| 2002| Squaresoft| Amazingly, given its date, this would be one of the first box arts in Europe to adorn Yoshitaka’s art.
Final Fantasy XIV Online: A Realm Reborn (Collectors Edition)| 2013| Square Enix.
Front Mission: Gun Hazard| 1996| Squaresoft.
First Queen| 1988| KSK.
If you like Yoshitaka’s art you’ll love…
European fantasy painter. Famous for his work with Psygnosis and the Shadow of the Beast series.
Japanese fantasy illustrator and mech designer.
Konami fantasy, horror painter made famous through the Castlevania series.
Ys| 1991| Nihon Falcom Corp. Final Fantasy. IV Advance| 2005| Square Enix.