In my previous catalog scan I noted buying three unscanned Electronics Boutique catalogs in January 2023. One has (obviously) already been posted. The other is queued for my annual xmas feature. The third I said I was very "meh" on. This is the "meh" one.
This catalog isn't in great condition. It was listed as "acceptable" and that's about right. The starting bid was only $3.99 which was also my max bid. I legit hoped someone would snipe it. Nobody did and I'm stuck with it. The seller was honest about the condition so I can't complain.
Also 2004 isn't a year I know much about. I had a one year-old at home and was working way too much. I know that last part comes up often in things I post. 2004 wasn't the busiest work year for me ever but it had some rough patches. This was especially the case in summer, the time when this catalog is set. I was on a project to convert a sales portal site from Visual Basic 6 to whatever the latest .NET version was at the time. I wrote the data access layer which was a whole bunch of C# and T-SQL. Neither of which I knew before starting the project. The launch date was that summer. I don't remember the exact date. I only remember being stuck in the office over many gorgeous weekends.
Between those two things I wasn't doing a lot of gaming. Based on my own notes, the two games I played the most in 2004 were Baldur's Gate and Simpsons: Hit & Run. There's almost nothing in this catalog I played when it was fresh, really there's barely anything I even played at all.
I will try to treat this as a learning experience. The state of gaming in 2004 is a mostly blank space for me that I hope this catalog fills. Please join me on this lesson...
Page 1 - Front Cover
I again must note the condition of this catalog is not great. The front and back cover are the worst. The first dozen or so pages have some rough spots too. As for the cover theme, it's pretty good. I only saw the first Spider-Man movie of this century and know I'm in the minority on missing the rest. The 2nd movie was a 2004 summer hit and fits this catalog well. I'm sure this cover tempted many people to grab a copy which is the goal.
Page 2 - Contents
Being the other side of the cover this page is also bad. Luckily I doubt anyone is super hyped to read this description of the ESRB rating system.
Page 3 - Pre-Order Calendar
Very few of these seem like games anyone would pre-order. Of course I once pre-ordered a Bust-A-Move game which was in no danger of selling out so I shouldn't talk.
Page 4 - Reviews
OK, so back to an earlier comment... of these four games I only played one, Four Swords Adventures. I would probably like RalliSport 2 for a couple rounds. Red Dead Revolver is more of a shooter than open-world game right? I'll put that in the maybe column. MMORPGs aren't my thing so I'll pass on City of Heroes.
Page 5 - Reviews
I'm not surprised to see that Custom Robo is a pricey game today. I managed to follow the GameCube alright and don't remember ever seeing it. I suspect it was fairly rare.
Page 6 - Coming Soon
I could share many thoughts on GTA: San Andreas but I'll save them for a future article. Seeing both it and World of Warcraft in the coming soon section makes me appreciate how huge a year 2004 was for some franchises.
Page 7 - Coming Soon
OK, Sims 2 is also on the coming soon list. I'm beginning to picture what was under a lot of xmas trees this year.
Page 8 - Hot Items
I was pretty out of touch with 2004 movies too. I didn't see either of these or much else from that year. When I was younger I thought I'd always be into whatever was new at the time. Like I'd never grow into one of those old out-of-touch adults who can only remember things from the 1960s. I didn't realize how much having kids annihilates your ability to stay current with anything. Just when my kids started being lower maintenance, 2020 hit and it was like being a new parent all over again. Now it's 2023 and there's very little from the past 20 years of pop culture I recognize.
Page 9 - XBox
I don't currently own an Xbox but I have two controllers. With USB adapters they are great for many systems. I like the style of the hardware too. It's unmistakably a game system but fits alongside anything else in an entertainment center.
Page 10 - Movie Games
The hint book offer is alright if you're planning to buy another new game that year. I have no idea if it's actually needed though.
Page 11 - Activision
This is the first of roughly 700 Shrek 2 appearances in this catalog. Much like the 700 copies of Shrek 2 you'll see in a $1 bin at any game convention.
Page 12 - Pre-Played
The $9.99 Dreamcast sounds like an incredible deal now. Even the N64 at $9.99 is starting to sound like a bargain.
Page 13 - Pre-Played PlayStation 2 and XBox Games
Madden 2004 is $29.99 used at this point. Wouldn't it be $1 in another month or two? Actually, wasn't everything on this page $1 not long after this? These might not be awesome but there are some shockingly good pre-owned deals coming up soon...
Page 14 - Pre-Played Nintendo
And here they are... As I understand, a loose copy of Pokemon Ruby goes for at least $100 now. That's not the only investment opportunity on this page, just the most obvious one. No, I don't like referring to a video game as an "investment opportunity". It's just the reality we're stuck with.
Page 15 - Pre-Played Nintendo 64 and PlayStation
A few games jump out as being good deals here too. I'd say Final Fantasy VII at $9.99 is a bargain but sometimes it will randomly be on the Square-Enix store new for that price. It's like every few years they're cleaning out a storage closet and find a case PlayStation games.
Page 16 - Pre-Played DVD
I forgot that EBGames sold used DVDs for a while. Maybe I never knew that in the first place. It's possible I didn't enter an EBGames in 2004. This catalog is a year before they were acquired by GameStop. I don't recall GameStop selling used DVDs but would believe they did.
Page 17 - Trade-In
This is quite an eclectic mix of things they're asking you to trade in via picture. Like there's an Eric Clapton CD from the 1970s thrown in there. What's that about? Do they want people buying the latest Splinter Cell game to raid their parent's CD collection?
Page 18 - Pre-Purchase Offer
I could be dim-witted today but I don't understand what this page is trying to convey. The top of the page seems to be talking about pre-ordering a pre-played game. That's a weird idea but something I can see them try. Like as soon as someone trades one in it's all yours I guess. I think it's really saying you get $20 off if you pre-order and trade-in a game. OK, but "any" trade-in game? That can't be right either. Maybe it's if you trade in Splinter Cell specifically?
Page 19 - Pre-Purchase Offer
OK, I think that's the deal. Trade in Gran Turismo 4 and get $20 off one of these pre-orders. Two of which are exclusives for systems that don't have Gran Turismo 4. Oh wait, this whole theory of mine is disproved in a couple pages.
Page 20 - PlayStation 2
$149.99 is a good deal for the PlayStation 2 in 2004. Hmm.. wait, is it? The Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis were hovering closer to $100 at this point in their life cycles.
Page 21 - PlayStation 2 Games
That Harry Potter game, most of them I suppose, is also a frequent $1 bin sighting. It's a bit unfair because it's not a terrible game. I think they all get written-off too easily as being bad movie games.
Page 22 - PlayStation 2 Games
Pool Paradise eh? I usually enjoy pool games. I'll keep an eye out for that one. Also is Growlanser Generations the last game published by Working Designs? I think it is. I miss Working Designs and am happy that lately NIS America is filling their role.
Page 23 - PlayStation 2 Games
The Legends of Wrestling cover is the newest one in any of these catalogs, is under 20 at the time of this posting, and still half the people on it are gone. There is also art of what looks like Roddy Piper vs Scott Steiner which maintains the 50/50 ratio.
Page 24 - PlayStation 2 Coming Soon
So Gran Turismo 4 is also a coming soon title. It obviously couldn't be the trade-in game on that confusing page 19. I have no idea what is going on now.
Page 25 - PlayStation 2 Coming Soon
The Street Fighter Anniversary collection at $29.99 seems like a good deal.
Page 26 - PlayStation 2 Greatest Hits
This page highlights how bad my PlayStation 2 backlog is. I haven't played anything here and understand most are highly regarded.
Page 27 - PlayStation 2 Games
I could repeat the previous comment here too. Since I'm very odd, I have a large collection of PlayStation 2 sampler discs and suspect I could play the first level of all these games.
Page 28 - PlayStation
Here are the final days of the original PlayStation. You can relive the launch in a previous catalog scan. Going back to my comment about the Square-Enix store and their weird deals... I bought both of those Final Fantasy collections there much more recently than you think. Anyway, I declare everything on this page to be a good deal.
Page 29 - XBox
This catalog gets a little repetitive with the same games pictured multiple times. If I had an Xbox I'd be all over that sampler. Someone could write a psychology thesis on my obsession with console sampler CDs.
Page 30 - XBox Coming Soon
What I've learned over the years is that one page from all of these catalogs gets shared by someone trying to make a point about historic game prices. I think this will be that page since it has a number of new, full price games from popular franchises.
Page 31 - XBox Games
There's not a ton of variation between the PlayStation 2 and Xbox pages, which is the case for previous generations too.
Page 32 - XBox Greatest Hits
In the music industry a platinum hit is what, 1 million copies sold? I don't think that's the case with all of these.
Page 33 - XBox Games
Alright, we've seen all of these already for sure.
Page 34 - XBox Games
The cover of Pure Pinball is out there. Actually, wait, all this box art is incredibly 2000s.
Page 35 - XBox Games
The Grand Theft Auto combo is another outstanding deal in this catalog. In terms of price vs game length it's a good deal for sure. I suppose you could assemble this collection on PlayStation 2 from the used bin for a bit less.
Page 36 - Nintendo GameCube
GameCube at $99.99, that's a good place for a console to be 3 years after it launched. Now I wonder, is this the last generation where a console dropped to $99? I'm not talking about some clearance deal. I mean that's the list price while it's still active. The Wii never dropped that low so this might be the last example.
Page 37 - GameCube Games
The GameCube is criticized for having poor 3rd party support but this page sure looks a lot like some previous PlayStation 2 and Xbox pages.
Page 38 - GBA Video
I saw those video cartridges on clearance at Toys 'R Us for a couple dollars. I'm not sure if I regret passing on them. I've never seen an episode of any of these shows but the novelty of owning these would be fun.
Page 39 - Game Boy Advance
You can't go wrong with any game on this page. The Game Boy Advance library had an incredible selection. I still have a deep backlog for it.
Page 40 - N-Gage
As much as I like weird, misfit systems the N-Gage never interested me. It doesn't make sense. I'm a fan of portable systems and trainwreck systems. This combines both of these like no other except the Gizmondo. I should have at least one media tower dedicated to the N-Gage.
Page 41 - PC Coming Soon
This catalog could have been a few pages shorter. This is largely a repeat of the previous coming soon section.
Page 42 - PC Coming Soon
Right, we're entering the era where "gritty" was an emerging marketing look. This page is all dark and menacing like that.
Page 43 - PC Games
It's puzzling to me how there isn't a Sims game on the Switch. It seems like an easy way to print money.
Page 44 - Value PC Games
In my limited experience with the "Tycoon" games they have little in common. It seems more like a brand that gets slapped on any simulation game idea pitched to Activision in the 2000s.
Page 45 - Value PC Games
There is an awful lot of variety on this page.
Page 46 - Hint Books
I'm a little surprised there are this many hint books in 2004. I thought sites like GameFAQs would have killed this industry off by then. It could be that there are collectors, that would not be surprising.
Page 47 - Hint Books
I have a difficult time believing that Shrek 2 needed a hint book.
Page 48 - Accessories
Those Hip Gear controllers do not look good. And is the Max Drive anything more than a USB drive?
Page 49 - Accessories
The car kit plus the LCD screen comes in at $250. A Game Boy Advance is $99 at the same time. This seems like an easy decision.
Page 50 - Movies
This is another unnecessary page, everything here appeared multiple times already.
Page 51 - Movies
Same deal here, everything is rehashed from previous pages. It's like someone had a page count goal.
Page 52 - Back Cover / Classic NES Series
Even in 2004 the original Legend of Zelda was totally worth $19.99.
OK, I don't think I missed much after all. I'm sure there are some who consider 2004 their favorite year for games. I'm not going to argue about something subjective. I'll agree it had some very important releases. It's not a year with a lot of new games I'm into and that's just fine. I see a lot of shooters, games based on summer films, racing games, and annual sports updates. Those are all things I'll try in small doses but not rush out to buy new.
Who knows though? If I had more free time in 2004 perhaps I'd be a huge Red Dead Revolver fan today. That's plausible, really it is.
This leads me to some closing questions... How much of our gaming preferences are shaped by what was new when we had time to play it? I look at a lot of these 2004 games and shrug them off. If I went back and tried the blockbuster games would I enjoy them? Are they now so dated that I couldn't enjoy them the same way I might have in 2004?
I suppose there's only one way I'll learn the answers. Thanks for reading this far.