The Art of the Package

I’ve been trying to build up my collection of old games over the past year. Partly because a few pawn shops have opened up around my area that have a pretty good selection of old NES games.  It’s not so much that I want to play them (although I do from time to time) I just like to have them, to hold this little piece of history of the media I love.

Aside form my unnatural need to hold these things in my hand, the artwork featured on each cartridge.  The bizarre 80’s-ness of  and classic art design (that half the time doesn’t match what the game looks like) of some of their covers just brings a smile to my face.  I’ve been trying to branch out into obtaining box copies of these game and have the complete package.  Thanks so a friend of mine who was recently giving away his old Nintendo collection my modest collection has grown a little with prize being a complete boxed copy of the original Final Fantasy with the manual, explorer’s handbook, maps and bestiary included.

I cannot stress how important a package like this was for a child growing up who didn’t follow many gaming magazines.  It was always a shot in the dark choosing good games when all we had to go by was the art on the cover and, if you were lucky, the text on the back of the box.  Here’s is the text on the back of the Final Fantasy box for those interested.

Dragons and broadswords

mystery and adventure

Final Fantasy has them all!

An evil shroud covers the world in darkness.  You must restore the powers of earth, wind, fire, and water to the Four Orbs.  Create your own band of 4 Light Warriors from fighters, thieves, marital artists, and magicians.  You’ll need all their skills to triumph in this massive role-playing adventure.

Your treacherous journey takes you to all parts of a strange new. Explore dangerous castles and dark caverns where deadly perils and great rewards await at every turn.  Hundreds of ferocious monsters block your path.  With patience, skill, and cunning you can defeat them.

Come, begin your quest.  Enter an enchanted new World.  Command your warriors! Prepare to face the Final Fantasy!

A world shrouded in the darkness of evil. Your mission – to restore the light!

Man, that was epic.  But every NES game was about saving some world right?  Most of them were for sure but not all.  What would a game that wasn’t about saving a world or princess have written on the back of it’s box.  How about a quirky little game called M.U.L.E..

“IRATA.  A New World rick with opportunity. For wealth. And Power

And you can become the richest, most powerful inhabitant of the newly discovered planet by owning the most land, mining the most precious metal, and supplying the most food and energy to all the peasants – otherwise known as your opponents.

To win you need MULES (Multiple Use Labor Elements), kind of mechanical donkeys which do your dirty work: growing food, mining, and producing energy.  MULEs are critical, so you want to get as many as possible as cheaply as possible.

And by the way, treachery is acceptable.  So use it when needed.

Then sit back and enjoy your wealth and power, OH MIGHTY RULER.”

I especially enjoy the “OH MIGHTY RULER” part.

These days with every bit of information so readily available about games and what most of them play like being common knowledge the package doesn’t seem quite as important.  With all this information also comes the more conventional box art, which is odd because you would think publishers could get away with more abstract art with most of their costumers knowing what their game was all about. I’m no publisher I don’t know, but what I do know is that I prefer the box art of old and hope we can return to those wacky times one day.

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