Electronics Boutique Fall 1991 Catalog

Super Nintendo Launch

Front cover

In August 1991 the video game industry was changed forever. After many agonizing months of waiting a new icon of gaming was introduced to North America - ELBO, the official mascot of Electronics Boutique. Also, the Super Nintendo.


Contents

Here's a brief bio on ELBO. He's not a half-bad mascot other than looking a little too much like Odie from the Garfield comics.


Super Nintendo

I really wanted to do some kind of 20th anniversary feature on the Super Nintendo but couldn't come up with anything that won't be done on a thousand other sites. There will be no shortage of "Top 10 Games/Soundtracks/Accessories/etc" pieces on the interweb. Instead let's look at the small, but respectable, launch library as it was marketed to 1991 gamers.

$199.99 is a great launch price for a system, even in 1991 dollars. After adjusting for inflation it's still $170 cheaper than the PlayStation 3 at launch.



Nintendo

Nintendo Action Set, Super Mario 3, and Final Fantasy

Despite the replacement system being out, the original NES had some life left in it. Super Mario 3 and Final Fantasy might have been a over a year old now but were still two of the best games in the entire store.


Nintendo Control Deck, StarTropics, and NES Open

Looking at that control deck reminds me that we weren't far away from seeing the top-loader NES.


Football, Dr. Mario, and Tetris

You never see controllers being sold in two-packs anymore. Maybe this was the only time you ever did?


Mega Man 3, Darkman, F-15 Strike Eagle, and Day Dreamin Davey

If Mega Man 3 was the most recent game in the series to be released in the states then parts 4-6 must have come out right on top of each other.


Lunar Pool, Ultima, Base Wars, and TMNT Arcade Game

The storyline of Base Wars seems completely plausible right now. If anything, it'll happen within our lifetimes and not 300 years from now.


Blades of Steel, Lone Ranger, NASCAR, and Laser Invasion

The dude with the knife on the cover of Laser Invasion doesn't stand a chance against tanks and helicopters.


Bases Loaded, Maniac Mansion, Big Bird, and Ms. Pac Man

Very odd collection of games to group together on this page.




Game Boy

Game Boy, Super Mario Land, Super R.C. Pro AM, World Cup

Despite being a launch game two years prior, Super Mario Land is still featured on the first page of the Game Boy section.


Sneaky Snakes, Final Fantasy Legend II, Final Fantasy Adventure, Caesars Palace

And now for another installment of "I'm feeling too lazy to check Wikipedia" - these two Final Fantasy games aren't really Final Fantasy games. They are from another Square series but were re-branded when they were brought to America. I want to say one of them is actually related to The Secret of Mana in some way.


TMNT Fall of the Foot Clan, Castlevania II, Operation C, and Blades of Steeel

This is one of my favorite pages in this catalog because it's a great example of why the Game Boy was successful so quickly. These were all good portable versions of popular NES franchises. Tetris attracted a massive mainstream audience, but games like these brought the NES loyalists over.


NFL Football, Marus Mission, Battle Unit Zeoth, and In Your Face

On the other hand, if the Game Boy library only contained titles like these it wouldn't have lasted long.


Game Boy accessories

And now for the typical assortment of goofy Game Boy accessories.




Sega Genesis

Sega Genesis , Streets of Rage, Shining in the Darkness, and Spider-Man

Let's kick off the Sega Genesis section with a few popular games of the time. Hmm, I don't recall Sonic the Hedgehog being an arcade game but if Electronics Boutique says so...


Phantasy Star III, Sonic the Hedgehog, Alien Storm, and Fantasia Phantasy Star III isn't the most beloved game in the series but I think it deserves a lot more credit than it gets. If you follow the Phantasy Star scene you'll find its inspired a ton of fan fiction and theories - possibly more than any other in the series.


Star Control, Mike Ditka Football, Raiden Trad, and Saint Sword

Star Control really seems like a game I'd get into, too bad it's relatively hard to come by now.


Road Rash, Starflight, Air Buster, and NHL Hockey

Speaking of games with "star" in the title - it amazes me how obscure Starflight is. It was easily one of the best RPGs of the 16-bit era. Maybe it just wasn't marketed right, the cover makes it look rather boring. The write-up comes across like a simulation which is only half the game.



The other hand-helds

Game Gear

I forget if I told this story already somewhere on this site but we hooked-up a Game Gear TV tuner in the store once. This had to be late 1992 to early 1993. We couldn't get a single station to come in. It's not like this was out in the stick either, a regular TV antenna at that time would have received more than a dozen stations.


Atari Lynx

The Lynx was finally at a competitive price to the Game Boy but it was already too late. It had some great games and has a cult following today.


LCD Hand-helds

If I tried to give one of these to my kid she'd throw it at my forehead.



TurboGrafx-16 and Neo Geo

TurboGrafx-16

I know it's pathetic but the TurboGrafx-16 is my favorite 16-bit system. It probably is due more to my non-conformist attitude than the quality of the system. This selection is a great example of why I shouldn't like this system. Yet here I am utterly convinced that it's the best system of the early 90s. What is wrong with me?


Neo Geo

I'm pretty sure I mentioned this in the spring 1991 catalog post but I don't remember selling Neo Geo games at Electronics Boutique. I started working there in the fall of 1992 so I suspect that they dropped it early that year because even after a system was discontinued it was a while before it was off the shelves.



PC Games

Martian Memorandum, Leisure Suit Larry V, Mike Ditka Football, Police Quest 3, and Corporation

I'd really like to go back and try those old Police Quest games. I wasn't into PC games back then so it would be great to see how they held up over time.


Tony LaRussa Baseball, AD+D Collectors Edition, Pools of Darkness, Eye of the Beholder, and Gateway to the Savage Frontier

Here's the first of many AD&D collector's edition sets. They would get re-packaged more times than I can count over the next two decades.


Civilization, Mantis, F-117A, Wing Commander II, and Hare Raising Havoc

Somehow I did not see Who Framed Roger Rabbit? until 2009.


Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe, Earl Weaver, Megafortress, and the Immortal

Time to earn a little hate mail - I probably looked at an Earl Weaver Baseball box 100 times and still have no clue who he is. I assume he was a baseball coach, but maybe he was a player, or a player turned coach like I think Tommy LaRussa was, or maybe he was just an announcer. I don't care about baseball enough to even Google it.

Speaking of Google and baseball... I have a Google news alert for the phrase "Cubs eliminated from playoff contention because that's when I know it's safe to start listening to sports radio again. No delusional Cubs fans interrupting football talk with their fantasies about how the perennial losers are breaking their make-believe curse this year.


Martian Dreams, Bo Jackson, ABC Boxing, and Flight Simulator

I can't tell if Martian Dreams sounds like an incredible game or a complete trainwreck.

It's funny how the early Microsoft Flight Simulator packaging looked like you were buying a copy of Excel. They probably didn't have separate marketing divisions for productivity and games just yet.



Productivity Software

PC Paintbrunsh IV, Automap, Virucide, and Money Matters

One of the fun parts (for me at least) of looking at these catalogs is trying to find out what happened to all these productivity software vendors. Between Microsoft and the internet most of them were out of business before the end of the decade. What happened to the technology and people behind them is often quite interesting. For example - you've probably never heard of ViruCide but the author went on to start GoDaddy.


Paradox, Quattro Pro, Control Room, and Turbo C++

That Ashton-Tate Control Room might be the last product developed under that brand. They were bought out by Borland in 1991. That particular package looks to be a collection of random software they sold in the 80s tossed into a single box.


Norton Desktop, Norton Utilities, Wealth Builder, and Floorplan Plus

I remember a time when Norton Utilities was something you actually wanted because it addressed shortcomings in DOS and Windows. Eventually Microsoft would make every useful thing Norton obsolete or part of the OS. Now whenever you buy a new PC you spend hours trying to figure out how to remove all the Norton &%#* that comes pre-installed. I could make a strong case for classifying the most current version as a virus.


RightWriter, PC Tools, Lotus 1-2-3, and Ami Pro

I was surprised to find that RightWriter is still sold online today and has kept up with all the word processors and even some web content management systems.



Everything Else

Carmen Sandiego, Super Muchers, Kid Pix, and Headline Harry

I was going to check if Kid Pix is still being made today but don't have the courage to type that into Google. Chris Hansen will probably be knocking on my door before I hit the enter key.


Reader Rabbit 2, Mavis Beacon, Mickey's Jigsaw Puzzles, and Sesame Street

Moving right along...


War in Middle Earth, NFL Pro Print, Super Mario Bros. Electonic Crayon, and Expert Astronomer

NFL Print Pro is officially the most hilarious product of this catalog. Yes, I see the Super Mario Electric Crayon below it.


Computer accessories

I try to not make fun of too many things in these catalogs. I scan them because I enjoy looking at them and assume there are other weirdos who do too. Most of my memories of these items are positive and I try to reflect that. However, there's no way to say anything nice about the computer hardware prices at the time. It's not like we thought they were good prices back then, we knew we were getting fleeced. Case in point, $319.99 for a black and white handheld scanner. How about $29.99 for a mouse you wouldn't take for free today. Although I would really like to have the box for that mouse.


Computer hardware

You could also spend $299.99 to upgrade your PC with a sound card that would be totally unsupported in a couple of years.


Joysticks

The joystick prices aren't all that zany since you can spend significantly more today.


Back cover

Sorry, the copy of this catalog I got had a bit of writing on the back. I get a kick out of these old confusing word processor competitive upgrade packages. I suppose everyone else will appreciate that CD-ROM bundle even more.


Mail order form

It's a mail order form, whoo-hoo.


Mail order form

Desert Storm was only a few months in the past and already the hastily made games based on it were being cleared out for $1.


Tweet