Game Boy – 1989 / 1998 / 2001
The black and white Game Boy was a prominent handheld machine for 10 years, yet kept its box art under strict control. The Game Boy logo was always in the same place, in the same font and the same color throughout its notable decade-long tenure. Made it extremely easy to find the Game Boy section at Wal-Mart.
Above: The only real differences were the Players Choice games, which switched the standard silver logo to gold
Above: Early Game Boy Color games occasionally had reflective surfaces (like Pokemon Pinball) but eventually dropped that idea and went for typical boxes
Above: Game Boy Advance continued the sideways logo trend, though the UK logos had a colorful outline instead of the metallic letters we saw in the US
The original Game Boy launched in 1989, and with it (we assume) came Nintendo’s realization that standardized boxes may actually help sales performance. After all, it’s a lot easier to tell what’s what when each game is clearly marked in a consistent manner. Nintendo would put this to good use during its next console era – the SNES.
Super NES - 1991
After the unrestrained insanity of the NES, Nintendo put a firm, seemingly non-negotiable format in place for SNES boxes. And near as I can tell, every single game followed this formula until the day it handed off the reigns to the N64.
Above: Early games had a lot of text on the right hand side. Later games didn’t. But all followed this precise layout
Above: The only vague exceptions are Donkey Kong Country, which was jungle green (and the first SNES game with an ESRB rating), and then Robocop vs Terminator shipped with an embossed, hard case
Beyond those two, both Mario Paint and Earthbound shipped in larger-than-normal boxes (the former came with a mouse and mousepad, and the latter with a strategy guide), but even then, the box design was identical.
3DO - 1993
“What the dicks is a 3DO?” you ask? A hugely expensive console that promised to be a multimedia hub – movies, music, games and more – but sucked at each and every one of these jobs. Ironic that today’s machines do just that, and are hugely successful.
Above: The only REAL notable things (that’s a joke for you Panasonic 3DO fans) were the tall, slim boxes that attracted dust for years
That’s kind of all there is to say about 3DO, really. I only bring up the boxes because they looked so weird next to everything else. I could go into Jaguar games now but… nah, they’re just typical paper boxes.
Sega Saturn - 1995
Sega ended the 16-bit era with a company-wide branding scheme – red bars on Genesis, blue bars on Sega CD and yellow bars on 32X. With the 32-bit Saturn, it kicked off a new console with one type of packaging and one consistent look throughout its short life. The white bar, Saturn designation and curvy Saturn logo would appear universally.
Above: Those same plastic Sega CD cases show up again
Above: Derp, an exception - Sega put out Virtua Fighter (a pack-in) in a CD-sized jewel case instead of the tall cases, and VF2 had art that bled into and overtook the usually white Saturn logo area
Sega stuck to its guns with those plastic cases, having used them for Sega CD, 32X CD and now Saturn. Apparently Sony thought this type of case would become the norm for CD-based games, as it used them for its initial PlayStation lineup.
Next up, we see the PlayStation cycle through FOUR types of packaging, plus the N64 and Dreamcast