Pure Nostalgia: The 1996 Toys ‘R’ Us Holiday Catalog
It’s a bit glorious and immensely nostalgic to witness remnants of the past, looking at relics that once were stationed on our living room rugs – memories of which our youth embellished all products marketed towards us; it was part of childhood. A time unlike now, where controllers were funky and wired, grey cartridges were a standard, TV’s were fat and heavy, and multiplayer meant having friends physically next to you like they were human beings or something. In the 90’s we were unraveling our three foot fruit roll ups, sucking on Capri Suns, unzipping our Jansport backpacks to reveal an extra controller, a rumble pack, or a connecting cord that would allow us to trade our Pokémon.
Kids (and adults) all over America went to Toys ‘R’ Us lining up behind the kiosks to play Super Mario 64. Back then, you’d make your way to the video game section and see rows of little clear plastic pouches filled with yellow slips. Above the yellows lips were flaps that laminated the front cover of the video games we were interested in. On the back, there were screenshots, details and a description of the game. Sometimes, as if experiencing a lottery, you’d pick the last slip. You’d then take that slip and give it to the cashier who would staple a receipt on it after you paid $59.99 for it. Afterwards, you walked to some magical corner of Toys ‘R’ Us where a man behind a glass case would hand you your game. Inside this magical hut were stacks upon stacks of video games, all sealed and minty fresh. In fact, it looked like the whole room was built with videogames.
This picture does the yellow slip memory no justice, but the concept is the same:
To this day, you still have fans everywhere discussing which console was the best back then.
N64 was known for its star entourage of first party platformers, alongside accessories like the RumblePak which made you “feel the game”. Goldeneye 64, much like Doom before it, (l’est we forget Maze War) set a standard for the shooter genre that we see so overly manufactured and produced today.
PlayStation had an immense library of 2,418 games that came in CD form. Many games contained full motion videos (FMVs) which provided a cinematic experience. Roleplaying games (RPGS) were groundbreaking. The PlayStation’s startup sound was that of heavenly ascension.
Witness the beautiful, dark and ominous high production value of commercials for video games back then. It was Y2K that entertained the doomsday idea of the world ending, which only made our hearts heavier when it actually happened the following year:
Curious of what Sony’s E3 booth looked like in 1996? The PlayStation was the first console that shipped 100 million units worldwide:
Marketing was rather creative, there was always some sense of competition among our favorite video game companies, and seeing them in real life was really out of this world:
Before the mark of the new millennium, the sky fell, and Mario attacked one of his own:
Now hang your head in shame knowing that marketing has been geared towards horny frat boys under the motif that “there’s a soldier in all of us”: