Electronics Boutique March 1997 Catalog

This catalog is interesting to me because it's from a period of time when I wasn't following the gaming scene. I was going to college and working at a now defunct bookstore. I only followed gaming for a couple weeks that year. A lot changed in the 8-10 months when I wasn't paying attention. The video game industry has always been a fast-moving one, well maybe not from 1984-1985. The second half of the 1990s seemed faster than usual. It was a very rapid shift from 2D to 3D gaming and the first time when home machines were really truly arcade quality.

The cover of this catalog is pretty rough. The rest looks fine.

Page 01 - front cover

I've long lost count of how many Electronics Boutique catalogs I've scanned. It's over 20 I imagine. This is the first I recall having models. That would be standard fare for a Sears catalog. The odd thing here is, with one exception, none of the models are interacting with the products. They come across more like stock images inserted at random places.

Page 02 - PC games

The Shivers games are hugely underappreciated. They are point and click puzzle games like 7th Guest. Perhaps they were released too late, at a time when PC gamers wanted something different. They are very high on my list of games that I wish would get a re-release on modern systems.

Page 03 - PC games

This model's outfit is so stereotypically 1990s that you'd see it a Netflix series set in the 1990s and complain it was uninspired and not really what people wore. I literally owned that exact outfit in 1997 and might even be wearing it right now.

Page 04 - PC games

I did not know, or perhaps remember, that Avalon Hill made what appears to be a zombie apocalypse survival game. Also "Level Master V" ('V' the letter not '5' in this case) would be a good name for a streamer.

Page 05 - PC games

Capitalism Plus features "e-mail play" - that sounds terrible and is something I definitely want to try now.

Page 06 - PC games

Hmm.. I realize the Flipper brand pre-dates Ecco by almost 30 years but wonder if the Flipper game is really an Ecco rip-off. Like some kind of circular rip-off thing is happening here.

Page 07 - PC games

Q!Zone for Quake.. the other day I saw a car with a Quake Q sticker on the bumper. It's sad that my reaction was "Quake fan or completely insane person?"

Page 08 - PC games

I really have no idea how they chose which games to group together. This is the golf, war, and anime page. It's fine.

Page 09 - PC games

1997, right, that's when the Star Wars movies started coming out in the theaters again with all the goofy changes. It was still fun to see them in the theater again. I would prefer the original original editions but have lost hope that will happen. I'll settle for the weird ones we have now.

Page 10 - PC games

A Fork in the Tale is new to me. Even without the typo that description is not selling me on it. According to Wikipedia it sold under 1,000 copies. That means it must go for the price of a house on ebay.

Page 11 - PC accessories

So I guess the Mad Catz steering wheel was the only product they brought to the photo session.

Page 12 - PC accessories

I think the description of the Duke Nukem book is actually for a game bundle that is not in this catalog.

Page 13 - PC education

I got some bad news.. the catalog has all the boring sections next. It'll be a few pages before we get to video games.

Page 14 - PC education

Pro-tip, don't hire a lawyer who was trained by a $50 bundle.

Page 15 - PC education

That Math Heads box is going to give me nightmares. Was that like based on a PBS show or something?

Page 17 - PC productivity

So here's what I learned from this page - in 1997 you could buy the equivalent of Windows Update (which didn't exist yet) for $35.

Page 18 - PC productivity

We're almost at the end of the era when Electronics Boutique still sold office software. If you actually walked into the store in 1997 it may not have been easy to find, likely tucked away in some corner.

Page 20 - PC productivity

Yeah, good luck with any of these.

Page 21 - PC productivity

Hey you. Yeah you right there. Yeah I'm talking to you. I bet you'd like to create great-looking greeting cards, signs, banners, certificates, and calendars. Yeah you'd like that wouldn't you. Yeah you freak you sure would. What you need is 150,000 clip art, True Type fonts, Web art, sounds, and video clips.

Page 22 - PC productivity

All these catalogs have a "replaced by Wikipedia" page, and here it is.

Page 23 - PC productivity

This is the last page of the boring section, I swear.

Page 24 - Nintendo 64

I don't know the story behind "CHANGE THE SYSTEM!" - it's on all the Nintendo 64 pages so maybe it's a Nintendo thing. The all-caps and exclamation point make it sound more like a Sega thing.

Page 25 - Nintendo 64

These pages with $70 games always get shared a bunch. It doesn't seem that crazy really. I guess you had to be there. I mean games are still about that price and they don't even come with all the content anymore.

Page 26 - Nintendo 64

Getting up to $80 is a little tougher to justify. You could wait out both of those $80 games a few months.

Page 27 - Super Nintendo

$70 Super Nintendo games in 1997... that's a tough one. There are some good games but take Mario RPG for example, that was turning 1 around then. That $70 price tag is a bit much.

Page 28 - Game Boy

So one $80 Nintendo 64 game or four $20 Game Boy games... looking at the games on this page I don't think it's close. These are some great deals.

Page 29 - Game Boy

Mole Mania is another game I think a lot of people missed out on and should try. The story is totally bonkers but the game play is solid.

Page 30 - Super Nintendo

Kinda weird how they spaced out the Super Nintendo games but whatever. So back to the question - one $80 Nintendo 64 game or two $40 Super Nintendo games? My answer is Link to the Past and Mario All Stars.

Page 31 - More games

I finally got around to playing Doom 64 - the remake where you can see the screen. That is a darn fine version of Doom.

Page 32 - PlayStation

Pictured here - Final Fantasy VII demo as a selling point for a totally unrelated game.

Page 33 - PlayStation

I would do badly at a hypothetical game called "Actual PlayStation title or something totally made up on the spot". Every game on this page would likely trip me up.

Page 34 - PlayStation

I know I'll sound like an old crank but it really was better when multiple companies made licensed sports games.

Page 35 - PlayStation

Based on the description, Professional Underground League of Pain is either incredible or a total trainwreck. I need to find a copy.

Page 36 - PlayStation

Carnage Heart is another title that I would assume was fake.

Page 37 - PlayStation

I'm learning about a lot of games I missed today. Like Spider, just Spider. It sounds like something alright. That description is just, wow. I bet it's not bad.

Page 38 - Sega

You know the Saturn is not doing well when it's sharing page space with the Genesis.

Page 39 - Saturn games

The Saturn at least gets one page of its own for games. The free game offer is another bad sign for the system. A free copy of Nights or Rally Championship sounds OK. It's a little tough to pick two games from this page I'd pay full price for though.

Page 40 - video games

Tecmo's Deception is something I've wanted to try for a while. I hear it's like a reverse Night Trap. Every part of that sounds appealing.

Page 41 - PlayStation

Suikoden is another game I'm about 90% sure I'd enjoy. My PlayStation backlog would take about 300 years to get through so I should start prioritizing them now.

Page 42 - Interplay

Tempest 2000 for Saturn at $30 is one of the better deals in this catalog.

Page 43 - video games

Tempest 2000 for $30 is nothing compared to these 3DO clearance games. Go look any of these up on ebay right now. Even without the insane valuation these are all good games for the price. It's totally fine to not view old video games as an investment opportunity and just play them. If I stumbled into these games I would totally play them and order them crushed after my demise.

Page 44 - video games

Add Albert Odyssey to the list of games in this catalog I want to try.

Page 45 - video games

The GX TV is the perfect dorm room thing. Even with just a 13" screen I would still have that hooked-up somewhere today. It's now my personal quest to find one.

Page 46 - video game accessories

If I do find a GX TV then I need to get a tacky light gun to go along with it. I bet it's hard to miss on a 13" screen but I'd manage it.

Page 47 - video game accessories

Ugh.. Shark Pad. I can't tell you how many Shark Pads I've found in nearly unused condition. No one would ever use them twice, that's why. They're just awful.

Page 48 - back cover

I'm glad one of the Color Me Badd guys was able to find work.

Thanks for visiting. Time for the usual disclaimer that this is the last catalog I'm ever scanning until the next one.