When video game boxes doubled as collectibles
Recap: Big boxes like these were the norm in the earlier days of PC gaming but by the early 2000s, manufacturers switched to smaller CD jewel cases. With digital now the preferred distribution method for the gaming industry, it’s rare to see a physical release outside of limited run collector’s editions that charge extra for goodies that used to come standard.
Video game box illustration is a bit of a lost art. Years ago, the physical retail package that a game came in was arguably just as important as the title itself. Quality box art could help a game stand out among the sea of otherwise mundane choices and even influence purchasing or rental decisions on the spot.
Believe it or not, it wasn’t uncommon to go into a store without knowing in advance what game you would leave with. In fact, compelling box art is precisely how I discovered many great games like the original Resident Evil in the mid-90s.
With that in mind, we have to give a huge nod to the curator over at Big Box Collection. A lifelong gamer, Benjamin Wimmer has set about collecting all of the big box PC games he has enjoyed since the late 80s, scanning them into a 3D database and sharing them with the Internet at large.
The result is a digital collection of more than 600 titles for your perusing. It’s not a comprehensive collection, mind you, as many titles are missing and others aren’t in English but it’s darn impressive nevertheless and will no doubt send gamers of a certain age on a nostalgia-induced trip.
What are some of your all-time favorite box art examples? I’m particularly fond of 80s and 90s classics like Myst, Super Metroid, Interstate 76 and of course, The Legend of Zelda. That cutout so you could see the gold cartridge inside – gorgeous!