Cover & Contents
This is somewhat uncharted territory for me. From 1992-1996 I considered Software ETC. my mortal enemy. Even if I wasn't a loyal Electronics Boutique'r it's unlikely I would have been a frequent customer of theirs. Video games were always a second class citizen at Software ETC.; their selection was light and their prices were high. Sure they had a lot more in the software and etc departments but to a 20-something me neither were appealing. Although I enjoy perusing this Christmas catalog, it only confirms my decades old bias.
All of these thumbnails link to the full photosets on my Tumblr page. Long story short, a couple times a year one of these galleries gets linked to from a high traffic site causing mine to fall over. If this site magically made a lot of money then I could move it to a server capable of handling the load.
I recently found out that LG is just GoldStar under a new name. That explains why the two LG appliances I purchased both failed in spectacular fashion. I bought an LG refrigerator that literally caught on fire due to a defect where the light bulb didn't turn off and overheated. That was a whole lot of fun. I got about a dollar from the class action suit for that one. I also bought an LG dryer, I must have been drunk at the time. The computer on it died within a week. It took them over a month to complete the warranty service. Hey, at least I got an opportunity to visit the laundry mat. That was quite a retro experience. Seriously though, I will never buy another LG product and neither should you.
Although GoldStar, both in their former and current incarnation, produced the poorest quality electronics known to man they made a positive impact in the 3DO market. By introducing a low cost version of the console, which presumably broke in under a year, they forced Panasonic to redesign their version. The result was a much cheaper Panasonic unit that actually lasted a while. Mine has long outlasted the combined life of my two LG mistakes.
Sega Genesis Games
The strange thing about the Sega Genesis section is all the incorrect box art. The Pitfall one is arguably better than the final product while the Quarterback Club placeholder is tacky. After scanning and posting about a dozen catalogs I'm now convinced I'd be the world's greatest video game catalog editor. As you can tell from this site I have zero graphic design skills. That's fine, I'll get a lowly intern to cover that. I would just be there to (a) only list things people want, as opposed to listing items we're desperate to sell (b) prevent huge mistakes from going out.
Sega 32X, CD, and Hardware
This is my favorite section of the catalog. I have a fondness for the 32X even though it has almost no games I like. Maybe I find it appealing because it's such an oddity in the history of gaming. Lots of systems had hardware upgrades, very few had two that worked together. In case anyone cares - the Intellivision+ECS+Intellivoice is the only thing I can think of that compares. Then again the Intellivoice wasn't really a hardware upgrade. I suppose PC Engine+CD+Arcade Card is a better example. Anyway, the novelty of it is fascinating. It's also one of about five systems that both launched and died while I was working at Electronics Boutique.
This section also answers the question of "so which stores sold the Pico?"
This section is the perfect example of why I would never have shopped at Software ETC. There is exactly one page of Super Nintendo games and none of them are hot titles for 1994. Where's Super Metroid? Where's Donkey Kong Country? Where's Mortal Kombat II? Where's Final Fantasy III? Where's the Super Game Boy? They're all missing to make room for Street Hockey '95.
Not surprisingly, their PC game selection is far more robust than their video game selection. I often suffer from the misconception that PC gaming didn't really achieve greatness until the launch of Windows 95 but these pages remind me of how wrong I am. There were some really outstanding DOS games in 1994 even if they required hours of tinkering with configuration files to run.
The PC hardware sections are always the easiest to laugh at due to the comparably absurd prices. No one born after 1985 could possibly believe that at one point 52¢ per megabyte (not gigabyte) was a great deal. Equally unbelievable would be the $270 kits to add a CD player to your computer. It wouldn't be surprising to this hypothetical person that computers wouldn't come with a CD drive, I suspect at least half don't now. Paying the equivalent of a Chromebook to add one though, that would be the real shocker. The $50-$80 joysticks probably seem about right to them though.
Also not surprising is the education section being larger than the video game section. The only thing that strikes me about these pages is how most of these titles are still being sold 20 years later, albeit somewhat upgraded. The educational software market hasn't changed all that much from the Apple II / Commodore 64 days.
PC Reference and Productivity
And so our journey though a 1994 Software ETC. store comes to an end. There are two really neat items hiding in this section:
(1) A Simpsons screensaver that would probably sell today. Why are screensavers considered so passé today? I guess this whole "energy conscious" thing has caused everyone to use monitor timeouts instead. Would a few flying toasters really destroy the planet?
(2) Virtual Guitar, everyone forgets that IBM invented Guitar Hero in 1994. Yes, IBM. OK, the guitar wasn't their idea but the "Quest for Fame" software for it was distributed by IBM. That was the same premise as Guitar Hero only 10 years earlier and not nearly as successful.