It’s now week 3 of our SNK retrospective where we publish SNK/Neo Geo articles for a span of 8 weeks. We are teaming up with Retro DNA to bring you these features. Check out our previous entries below:
When you think SNK box art and eye-catching posters in the 90s, you think of one guy: Toshiaki “Shinkiro” Mori. Don’t bluff: you may not know the name but you will most certainly know the art from the man.
Take a look below for a quick refresher:
The distinct faces. The eyes and the heavy usage of eyeliner. The colour. The dramatic poses that aren’t too comical and exaggerated. The fact that every one of these SNK fighting dudes and ladies all have that facial expression and realistic detail. That is the hallmark of a Shinkiro piece.
His artwork from the early 90s to the tail end of 2000 when he started his Capcom commissions are, to put it simply, breathtaking. They have a certain Hollywood appeal to them, with characters looking like stoic caricatures of hot movie stars like George Clooney (pre-cradle-robbing phase) to Tom Cruise (pre-suicidal-Mission-Impossible phase).
It was his art that made and defined the SNK Golden Era of the 90s. His multi-talented methods during that period include airbrushing, watercolours, gouache, inks, pencils, acrylic, charcoals, and oils; way before digital art took over. Yes, you can imagine how painstaking the process is in making sure the posters and promo materials are as eye-catching and well-crafted as humanly possible.
If you aren’t in awe, just check out the list of games he’s done art for in SNK alone.
- The King of Fighters series (KOF 94, KOF 99, KOF 2000)
- Fatal Fury series
- Art of Fighting series
- Metal Slug series (Metal Slug X, Metal Slug 3)
- Samurai Shodown series (Samurai Shodown, Samurai Shodown II, Samurai Shodown 64 – aka Samurai Spirits)
- SNK vs Capcom series (Capcom vs SNK, Capcom vs SNK 2)
- King of the Monsters series
- Kizuna Encounter
- The Last Blade
- Riding Hero
- Alpha Mission II
- The Super Spy
- Quiz Dai Sousa-sen
- Baseball Stars 2
- Ghost Pilots
- Super Baseball 2020
- Eight Man
- Robo Army
- Football Frenzy
- Soccer Brawl
- 3 Count Bout
- Last Resort
- Mutation Nation
Yes, he even made promo art for that really by-the-numbers Fatal Fury movie (see further below)
Without Shinkiro, we don’t get to see serious caricatures and stylings of SNK mainstays like Kyo Kusanagi, Iori Yagami, and Terry Bogard. Even his portrayal of the Metal Slug games has a certain level of flair when it comes to the art’s layout and composition. Why settle for pixelized midget-esque caricatures when Shinkiro’s style can attract more people to plunking their coins for a few Metal Slug sessions?
While he’s more synonymous with Capcom lately, we aren’t going to forget that his contribution to SNK is important, to say the least. He may not even get his current Capcom freelancing gig if it weren’t for his works for the house that brought us KOF.
So yeah, hats off to Shinkiro for making the golden age of SNK arcade games more pronounced and colourful. Let’s celebrate further by gawking at more of his awesome works below.