Electronics Boutique Spring 1993 Catalog

Cover & Contents

Front cover

You know what's messed-up? I probably gave 1,000 of these away for free yet I had to buy one on ebay. Maybe I shouldn't have just admitted to spending money on this? The point is, I never thought that 16 years in the future that I (or anyone else) would be remotely interested in looking at something like this.

This is a catalog from early 1993, right in the middle of the 16-bit war. The Genesis and Super Nintendo were well into their 2nd or 3rd generation of games so some really good titles were being produced. As usual, the prices look absurd in hindsight but were normal for the era.

Page 2 - Bubsy Pre-sell

I never got why there was a pre-sell for Bubsy. It was a mascot no one had heard of by a declining publisher. Nobody was rushing to be the first to own it.

That Angler control pad was better than it looked. Not as good as an original Super Nintendo pad, but better than most third-party controllers.

Back cover

This wasn't a bad deal. I'd go for Phantasy Star III, Shining in the Darkness, and... hmm, not sure. Toejam & Earl would be the obvious pick but that Genesis version of California Games was surprisingly decent too.

Sega Genesis

Page 3 - Sega Genesis

Some of these pages look like bad scans but in reality the colors in the catalog are off. I tried to fix them up a little but there's not much to work with. Anyway, comparing to today the console prices are quite a bit lower but the games are on average a little higher. You could chalk it up to higher cartridge production costs but back in the 90s these games were done by a very small staff. Nowadays the credits for many games are longer than a movie so I assume they are overall more expensive to make now.

Quite a few good games on this page - Joe Montana Sportstalk Football '93 is my favorite. It's the first football game that I remember having different weather.

Page 4 - Sega Genesis

Another good batch of games. I'd have to give Outrun the nod for my favorite, it's one of the few racing games I'm actually good at. The soundtrack is also spectacular and made a good transition to the Genesis. Streets of Rage 2 was also a great game for the time, I even prefer it to part 3.

Page 5 - Sega Genesis

I wonder whatever happened to the short-lived mascot featured in this catalog? I think he was put to sleep by 1994.

Anyway, at $64.99 I'm going to have to give the Menacer the brand of "worst deal in the catalog". Other than being bulky it was an OK peripheral, unfortunately it was never well supported making it obsolete rather quickly.

Page 6 - Sega Genesis

This page is mostly b-titles, except for Road Rash II and PGA Tour Golf II.

Page 7 - Sega Genesis

A couple gems here - Sunset Riders, TMNT: The Hyperstone Heist, and Tiny Toon Adventures. Yeah I said Tiny Toon Adventures, that was a solid little platformer.

That Power Clutch joystick was a good controller too, I can't recall if they later made a 6-button version. That's one downside to switching to multi-pad analog controllers, no one seems to make joysticks anymore. That SG Pro Pad on the other hand was junk.

Super Nintendo

Page 10 - Super Nintendo

Why do Harley's Humongous Adventure and The Hunt for Red October have billing over Link to the Past? I know, they were new and it was a bit old but it was still the best available game for the system at the time.

Page 11 - Super Nintendo

Nice assortment of games here - Mario Kart, Mario Paint, and Sim City were all top notch. Can't say the same for the two sports games though. I always thought Sim City supported the Super Nintendo mouse but I just looked it up and that's not the case. Weak.

Page 12 - Super Nintendo

Much like the Genesis section they lumped a bunch of b-titles together in-between pages of good games. Four shining examples of games based on movies that were terrible (both the movie and the game).

Page 13 - Super Nintendo

Alright, back to some classics. I never got into Prince of Persia but readily acknowledge it's a quality title. Turtles in Time and Star Wars are my favorites on this one. I think I'll even fire-up Star Wars once I'm done with this.

Page 14 - Super Nintendo

"An intriguing game concept" is a polite way to say "I have no idea what to do in this game". Having played the TurboGrafx-16 CD version of Sim Earth I think that's an accurate assessment.

The dude on the cover of Super Conflict is way too happy.

Page 15 - Super Nintendo

Despite the name, the Super Advantage was not produced by Nintendo and wasn't an upgrade of the original NES Advantage. The stick was a bit looser but overall it was a good controller, maybe not $52.99 good though.

It was always a total pain to find a place to store & display those giant storage units. I pity the current employees who have to figure out what to do those even-larger "band" games.

CD Systems

Page 8 - Sega CD

Alright, the next three pages are my favorite - the CD systems. I'm a huge fan of the Sega CD and TurboGrafx-16 CD. No, it's not some weird FMV fetish. It's more about it being a golden age for experimentation. Console developers no longer had to struggle with cartridge size limits. They were now free to try all kinds of innovative ideas - some spectacular, some awful. Not until the current iPhone craze have I seen game developers take chances like they did in the beginning of the multi-media era.

Unfortunately this page highlights the bad more than the good. Willy Beamish was the best game of this lot and it was only average.

Page 9 - Sega CD

Things look a little bit better on this page. Wonder Dog is an overlooked game that's not great but still a good time. Wolf Child and Chuck Rock are OK too, not really for these prices but when they went down to $19.99 they were a good deal.

Looking back at these reminds me that the initial Sega CD library was a bit lame. That had to be a big factor in why the system didn't succeed. It had many amazing games later in its life but most gamers never got past the first impression.

Page 16 - TurboDuo

Another reason I'm a fan of the early CD systems is the incredible soundtracks. No longer bound to chiptunes, game musicians could finally record full red book audio. The Legend of Heroes: Dragon Slayer and Lords of Thunder are to this day some of the best game soundtracks produced. Gate of Thunder and Buster Brothers were no slouches either.

The price on the TurboDuo was awful high, more than 3x the cheapest Genesis option. If they could have figured out a way to launch it at $200 it might have stood a chance.


Page 20 - Game Gear

Like the previous system, the Game Gear might have fared better if they could have brought the price down. The system was by no means a failure. It had a shelf life of over five years, longer than the Game Boy Color. Still, it never came close to outselling the original Game Boy.

Page 21 - Game Gear

Most of the games on this page are worth playing. Sonic 2 and Spider-Man both survived the conversion to a mobile format. Lemmings and Krusty's Super Fun House are more or less the same game and perfect for a portable system.

You'll see "New Markdowns Taken Every Day" on a few pages. That was an accurate statement. Every night markdowns were sent through the register system. Whoever opened the store would be greeted by a printout of all the markdowns for the day. This was on receipt paper so bad times if the previous night's closer forgot to leave a fresh roll in. It was then their job to hunt 'n peck for anything in stock to update the price sticker. This also meant they got first dibs on any insane deals. Around this time there were plenty to be found. For example, a lot of TurboGrafx-16 and NES games would get bumped from $30 to $5 overnight if it was something they wanted to unload quickly.

Page 22 - Game Boy

So if you want to remember why the Game Boy trounced the Game Gear here's all you need to see:

1) Lower prices.

2) Awesome game catalog.

The Super Mario Land games were a blast. I didn't get into Kirby or Yoshi but they were huge too.

Look at that awful fannie pack. The fannie pack might be the worst piece of clothing ever invented... except for maybe the Croc.

Page 23 - Game Boy

The Handy Boy looks like an S&M bondage kit.

Even though the Game Boy had decent battery life, the battery pack was a must-have. Internal rechargeable batteries are the best advance in portable gaming this decade.

Last Days of the NES

Page 17 - NES

The NES was nearing the end but sure finished strong. That Challenge Set bundle wasn't a bad deal. It plus any of the five games on this page would keep you entertained for a long time. Despite that, it's not like we still sold many of these in 1993. The cheaper compact model was around the corner and it sold a little bit, mostly as a replacement for dead systems.

Page 18 - NES

The first two games on this page are NES greats. The remaining ones are much more forgettable. Those Crash Test Dummies were like an early-90s version of the California Raisins. They were used in PSA commercials and somehow expanded into cartoons and games. I never got the appeal.

Page 19 - NES

I totally forgot that Electronics Boutique used to sell unlicensed NES games. They never carried the Wisdom Tree line but did have these Camerica titles and maybe one or two others. I don't know why Nintendo didn't shut that down, it was pretty easy for them to bully retailers then.