I bet you're really excited right now. An Electronics Boutique catalog from 1988 must be filled with tons of NES games right? The system completely ruled the world (of video games) that year. Certainly the store that you bought your Super Nintendo from had a great selection of games just a couple years prior..
Nope, at this point Electronics Boutique was largely a software store and for whatever reason didn't carry console video games. Console games were still mainly sold at stores like Sears. A random catalog from the previous year is a little bit heavier in the productivity software department. They obviously realized that when it came to Christmas season people were interested in fun things so this catalog is primarily devoted to computer games. Although Microsoft QuickC would be the item from here I'd most want to find under my tree.
Usual guilt-trip about how I don't run ads on this site or have a Patreon (if that's still around whenever you're reading this) or do anything at all to make money off this site. This is just a little holiday gift from me to anyone who enjoys looking at old catalogs.
This is a very 1988 cover, it looks almost exactly like the Trapper Keeper I was sporting at the same time. Kids today don't know what they're missing out on.
Wait!? Does that really say "Softwear"!? Is that a typo or an attempt at being cutesy? I can 100% imagine it being a typo and everyone just missing it because they glossed over the cover. Santa also seems to only have four fingers but that's expected, it would probably look like a space monster was holding the disk otherwise.
Page 2 - Red Storm Rising, Pools of Radiance
The thing that strikes me immediately is how much Commodore 64/128 software there is in here. I would have naively assumed that in 1988 the IBM compatible PC was completely dominant. Now of course it may have been outselling the Commodore 100:1 but the C64 had to still be in many homes then. This is why new Wii games were released up to 2019 (I am not joking). Even in the 1990 Christmas catalog they still list some C64/128 software. It looks like 1991 is when Electronics Boutique was done with the C64/128.
Page 3 - Out Run, Platoon, Pete Rose Pennant Fever
Even though there aren't any NES games, there are computer games that were also ported to the NES. The C64/128 and NES had similar CPUs so porting games was relatively easy (compared to porting a 16-bit arcade game for example). I haven't played the computer version of Platoon but it sure looks a lot like the NES version.
Out Run brings us our first Atari ST software sighting of the day. As for Pete Rose, I can't recall if we're supposed to think he's a pariah or a sympathetic figure who was overly punished for whatever he did.
Page 4 - Manhunter: New York, Leisure Suit Larry II, King's Quest IV
I feel like Leisure Suit Larry is a series that maybe doesn't hold up well today. The adventure and puzzle parts are OK, in terms of difficulty it's somewhere between Monkey Island and King's Quest. What I mean is the series would cause all kinds of stupidity on social media. I think in general social media and YouTube influencing game development is the worst thing to happen to video games. Even worse than rumble controllers. Do you think for even one second that The Legend of Zelda would have been a better game if Shigeru Miyamoto considered the opinions of YouTubers? Or if it had rumble?
Page 5 - Jack Nicklaus Golf, 4th and Inches, Grand Prix Circuit
The best part of not trying to earn a nickel on this site is not caring about people boycotting the site or trying to chase away advertisers. So when I say social media and YouTube are terrible influences on game development I don't have to care if people think I'm attacking their specific political video game views. My view is everyone should just play games they like and stop caring about which games other people do/don't enjoy. If game developers do something you don't like then don't buy their game, there are literally thousands of others to choose from. Also everyone should spend less time on social media.
Oh, and I have no opinion on any of these games.
Page 6 - Zoom, Victory Road, The President is Missing
All this time I thought Zoom was a Sega game. If the Genesis version only had 27 splash screens with company logos at the start like a modern game I guess I would have known.
I like the idea of a game with a cassette that contains plot information. Cynically this could be considered copy protection, it just barely helps with that though.
Page 12 - T.V. Sports Football, Rocket Ranger, Flight Simulator
The Cinemaware IP has been passed around more times than I can count. One of the previous owners made most of their library freely available but a later one took it all down. I expect at some point I'll be at a yard sale and find a banker's box with "Cinemaware IP $5, or best offer" scrawled in marker on the side.
Page 15 - Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy
Wheel of Fortune would also be better with Snoop Dogg hosting. Jeopardy would be a stretch because you need a little bit of a superiority complex vibe going. Alex Trebek comes across as someone who has mild contempt for the contestants on the show, like he'd sort of rather being doing anything else than talking with these people. I know it's an act but it would be difficult to find someone to replicate it.
Page 16 - Family Feud, Win Lose or Draw, Classic Concentration
My kids were completely mortified when they saw an old Family Feud episode. Contestants were smoking and Richard Dawson kissed every woman on each team whether they wanted to or not. It was quite a culture shock for them. Things that were common 40 years ago seem disturbing now, I get it. In 2059 there will be something extremely common today that people think is 100% mortifying. I suspect it will be Twitter.
Page 18 - Star Trek First Contact, Star Trek Rebel Universe, Heavy Metal
I don't follow Star Trek but I'm fairly confident that the late 80s was a low point for the series. I think Next Generation was maybe starting around this time but wasn't yet the beloved show it is now. If it was on, it wasn't beloved enough yet to get an Atari ST game. Maybe fans of the old series hadn't warmed up to it because I don't recall it being popular until the early 90s. I get that maybe you, the person reading this, loved Next Generation in 1988 and you think I'm a crazy person for not being aware of it until later.
Page 19 - Rastan, Pure Stat Football, Jordan vs Bird
I suppose due to NBA contracts there won't be another Jordan vs Bird type of game unless it used retired players. It was around the mid-90s when players could no longer appear in titular games or exempt themselves from NBA licensed games. "James vs Curry" doesn't have the same ring to it but would otherwise be a cool game idea.
Page 21 - Chessmaster 2100, Adult Poker, Skaterock
Adult Poker is another game that would inspire thoughtful, intelligent conversations on Twitter.
Have I mentioned that Twitter is an awful thing no one should use? I gained at least 10 hours of productivity a week by quitting. You wouldn't be enjoying these scans if I hadn't. No, seriously, that is true. I gave up scanning and posting stuff due to a perceived lack of free time.
Page 32 - Anchor Modems, Quickshot II, Quickshot for Nintendo
This is it for Nintendo-related products in this catalog. I'm sure it took a lot of arm twisting to get Electronics Boutique to carry it. Lots of complaining that it doesn't appeal to their "core demographic" or whatever. Oh and by the way, that controller worked terribly on the NES.