You know the drill - click on the thumbnail images to open the gallery. There are anywhere from 2-7 scanned pages in each section.
I've been looking forward to posting this catalog for quite a while. I'm heavily biased in my opinion that 1995 was the greatest year for video gaming. In hindsight the PlayStation vs Saturn battle was lopsided but in December 1995 there wasn't a clear winner yet. The launch of Windows 95 in September led to a deluge of new PC games. The Genesis and Super Nintendo were far from dead with some of their premiere titles appearing in 1995. The 32X, 3DO, Jaguar, and Sega CD were on their last breath but still getting a few interesting games.
I considered holding off until 2015 to post this as some kind of 20th anniversary tribute. I decided to quit waiting because maybe I won't be interested in old video games by then (unlikely) or I'd forget about it (very likely). The main reason I wanted to post this now is because the gaming market of late 2013 feels a lot like 1995. I could go on for pages about the similarities between the two - PS4 vs XBone == PS vs Saturn; Wii, Xbox 360, PS3 == Genesis, Super Nintendo; Wii U == 3DO or Jaguar; Windows 95 == Steam; Vita == Game Gear; 3DS == Game Boy; you get the point. It really feels like we're in 1995 part II right now, minus the booming economy.
As much as I enjoy this catalog I feel it doesn't completely capture the season. The Super Nintendo and Genesis were still strong sellers but only make guest appearances. I totally get that decision of course. The catalog masterminds at Electronics Boutique wanted to push the new & exciting products. So yes, despite having 100 pages to view there was still much more in stores this year.
Looking back it's easy to see how Sony managed to take down an established console maker in short order. The first wave of PlayStation games was outstanding and contained several titles considered among the best for the system. Sega's library of arcade favorites was immediately equaled by Sony's first and third party launch games. By the end of 1995 Sony built a lead that they never lost.
It will be interesting to see if Sony can build an early lead in this generation too. If so, will Microsoft quickly pull out of the hardware market like Sega did? Owning the family room has long been a goal of Microsoft's but with changes in leadership come changes in strategy. As of this writing I hear the rival consoles are essentially even so it's way too soon to know how this console war will end.
In 1995 Sega was selling the Saturn, Genesis, 32X, Sega CD, and Game Gear. Although they were really only playing lip service to 4/5 of those systems. It's rare to find a hardware manufacturer keeping that many different systems in play. The closest comparison would be Nintendo in 2006 when they had the Wii, GameCube, DS, and Game Boy Advance all floating around. Technically Sega was still selling the Pico around then too but it wasn't carried at Electronics Boutique.
Nintendo wasn't a big player this holiday season. A lot of Super Nintendo games sold of course, 1995 saw a number of high profile releases. However, they were a year away from launching their next-generation system and the Virtual Boy gamble wasn't paying off. So I'm afraid this is all you're getting from Nintendo in this catalog.
The 3DO was a dead system at this point but managed to score four pages in this catalog. Once the Saturn was released 3DO sales dropped something like 99%. Once the PlayStation was released I don't believe another system was sold. Don't quote these as being actual statistics, it's just what I remember from the store I worked at then.
Extremely over-simplified explanation for why the Saturn failed - it lacked annual Madden releases.
There are some gamers who look down upon sports games. I'm probably one of them. There's no denying though that sports games sell like crazy and systems without good sports games will fail.
The organization of this catalog is different than previous years. Instead of organizing games by system they sort of loosely grouped them by publisher. I don't think it makes a whole lot of sense. Regardless, there are a ton of great games in this photoset. It's very nice mix of early PlayStation and late Super Nintendo games, many all-time greats in here.
Video Game Accessories
This section is a lot of fun too. I sort of vaguely remember carrying that giant Saturn Arcade Racer, can't say we ever sold one at that initial $79.99 price tag. The Interactor and Batter Up are two of the worst two gaming accessories ever made, I'm surprised that neither have been featured on the Angry Video Game Nerd yet.
PC Games (part 1)
The PC games section is huge so I broke it up into three photosets. I credit Windows 95 with the surge in PC games this holiday season. Games built for Windows 95 were so much easier to install & run than DOS games. Although still not as convenient as a game console, it was a huge advance. Having access to a 32-bit operating system also gave developers significantly more memory to work with. Finally, CD drives allowed games like Phantasmagoria to exist. This is easily my favorite period for PC games.
PC Games (part 2)
I bet everyone forgot that IBM used to make Football and guitar games. If these games are 100x better than IBM's development tools they're still among the worst games ever produced. The only people who think IBM Rational Application Developer is a good IDE are ones that have never touched Visual Studio. First off, I challenge anyone to install Rational Application Developer and build even a simple "Hello World" application in under 8 hours. Sure you might install it in a lean four hours but you'll spend at least a day trying to figure out why it's completely non-functional after that. I don't know how they manage to keep conning CIO's into purchasing their technology. I suppose it's because most of them haven't ever used IBM's development tools hands-on before. Once people who have are finally in charge then IBM is screwed.
So right, yeah... PC games from 1995... this is really the weakest of the three sections so just move along to the next one.
PC Games (part 3)
There are a few interesting games in this section. For example, The Dark Eye is a bizarre interactive story based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe. It's the kind of thing that maybe didn't turn out so great as a PC game but would be perfect on the iPhone or Android. I wonder if anyone still owns the rights to it?
Beside games, Windows 95 resulted in a deluge of new utilities. Most of these were eventually put out of business when Microsoft starting including their own free versions with the OS. Norton Navigator was replaced by Windows Explorer, QmodemPro by Windows Fax, and so on. If it's any consolation, Microsoft products like Encarta and Automap were eventually crushed by free online competitors.
A few more pages of obsolete software. There are a ton of old PC games that will always be fun to play no matter how old they are. Productivity software does not age quite as well.
The folks at WordPerfect really dropped the ball on their version numbering scheme. WordPerfect 6.1 was also part of PerfectOffice 3.0. When shoppers saw the "3.0" part they thought it was an older version and passed on it. Trust me on this, I must have answered questions about it 100 times.
This is always one of my favorite sections of the these catalogs because these old prices are quite a marvel. Even back then I knew they were absurd and one day we'd pay a fraction of these prices for 10x the size & speed. If anything I completely underestimated what the future would bring. The only strange thing is that joysticks and ergonomic keyboards are the exact same price today.
The more of these catalogs I do, the more I grow to despise these edutainment sections. At first I only found them boring, now I dread trying to think of anything even slightly interesting to say about them. They always took up a disproportionate amount of store space compared to how well they sold. Perhaps this was some trick by Electronics Boutique so they could say they were promoting education or something. Interesting note - around this time they tried a series of test stores called "EB Kids", it flopped.
Electronics Boutique had a brief foray in the trading card business. I guess they figured there was some demographic crossover between game buyers and trading card buyers. The Magic cards sold well for a while but we could't give away sports trading cards. This was especially the case for hockey which I never knew had trading cards.
So I hope you enjoyed this look back at 1995 - Merry Christmas or whatever you're in to.