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Your favourite 8-bit magazine..
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22 Votes - 2 Comments
Most early Spectrum games came in the regular single cassette box.  Well, why wouldn't they? The box did it's job, held the cassette and an instructions inlay that could be folded several times and still fit comfortably within the confines of the...

Posted by jdanddiet on Dec 22, 2010 21:44 (Dec 22, 2010 21:44)

Most early Spectrum games came in the regular single cassette box.  Well, why wouldn't they? The box did it's job, held the cassette and an instructions inlay that could be folded several times and still fit comfortably within the confines of the box.   It was snug, we were happy and it was all you needed.

Some companies used different cases, of course. Many (but not all) Elite games came in the "clam-shell" type case where the cassette had a moulded square slot to fit into with either a cubby hole on the opposite side for the instructions, or they were printed on the back of the label.  I never liked these; they were an odd size and looked out of place on my shelf full of single cassette boxes.

Then came the double-cassette boxes; taking up twice as much room on a store's shelf, their cost increase was no doubt negligible whilst compared to the improved eye-catching qualities of the box.  It was very rare that a Spectrum game would require more than one cassette, so this was in most instances a superfluous case for your game. They looked good in a row on your shelf though!

 Apart from occasional tent-pole games from companies such as Martech with Armageddon Man and US Gold with the infamous World Cup Carnival, this was the industry standard until around late 1987. The first "big-box" game I can recall was Ocean's Robocop and I remember opening it up only to see one small corner taken up by the cassette and an instruction leaflet!  A new era of pointlessly large boxes had been ushered in.

But I loved them. I bought many a mediocre game (such as US Gold's Heavy Metal) on the basis of a nice glossy oversize cardboard box, so I suppose the publishers would say that the concept at least was a sound one. There were plenty of top games to be had though such as Rainbird's Starglider and Incentive's Driller, rare instances where the boxes contents justified its size.  Big boxes carried on into the 90's with a famous period of oversized cardboard boxes on the Amiga, Atari ST and PC in particular.

Eventually, the moans of wasted cardboard and reduced shelf space became too loud to ignore and nowadays it has come to an ironic full circle; discs housed in cheap plastic dvd boxes that cannot be easily recycled whilst all that card of yesteryear, that could easily be re-cycled, is no longer used. When I see rows and rows of similar looking dvd cases these days, I still occasionally pine for the days of cassette boxes and those large cardboard monstrosities that hogged the shelf-space and the limelight.

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#4 Jan 21, 2011 19:45:18 ( Jan 21, 2011 19:45 )

Great article , that box of games looks damn interesting ! 
#3 Dec 29, 2010 22:02:36 ( Dec 29, 2010 22:02 )

There were also the other type of plastic cases that I remember - lookup Danger Mouse on the Spectrum (cannot find a pic myself). Loved the Jetpac Ultimate case and still do to this day. 

#2 Dec 29, 2010 21:32:51 ( Dec 29, 2010 21:32 )

after the earlier games (jet pac et al) the first ultimate game i bought was gunfright and it came in a standard double cass box iirc.
#1 Dec 28, 2010 20:52:46 ( Dec 28, 2010 20:52 )

Ultimates packaging was always good up to Gunfright, as were their loading screens and (usually) the games themselves. I think that even when standard tape boxes were the norm, Jet Pac and Atic Atac looked a bit better than the rest. The Beyond games always looked quite smart too.

I remember that The Great Space Race came in an absurdly huge box and was absolutely awful. I think Valhalla was similarly packaged but was quite good. 

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