Cover & Contents
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Last Days of the 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.