Save the Box

pitfall-toy-bizarre-boxes

Oh cool, a boxed version of Pitfall! for Commodore 64, that’ll probably fetch me a few bucks on HOLY CRAP WHAT IS THAT THING ON THE RIGHT.

toy-bizarre-back

GOOD…

toy-bizarre-inside-cover

LORD!!

Toy Bizarre is a 1984 old-school platforming videogame about protecting your toy store from wave after wave of evil robots—but what’s WAY more interesting than that is the game’s box, which is supposed to look like a clown doll bursting through a wrapped package to eat your f***ing skin off. Yeah, that “guarantee” you might’ve seen on the left-hand side of the last pic? Not much consoling there:

toy-bizarre-guarantee

SO CREEPY. SO AWESOME.

I’m not usually one to say “back in the day, things were so much cooler and everyone was happier and healthier and kids played outside more and 25 cents would buy you a new Ferrari,” but come on. These days you’re lucky if your $60 game comes with an instruction manual (or even all the content that’s on the f***ing disc), but in 1984, they had some style. Witness:

toy-bizarre-catalog

(Click to see the full-size image.)

That’s not a catalog anymore. That’s a work of art. Just look at the elegant ad copy they wrote for Ghostbusters II:

ghostbusters-ii-catalog-copy

Or The Activision Decathlon!


activision-decathalon-catalog-copy

Or, heck—even Pitfall!

pitfall-ii-catalog-copy

Like…what?! All of a sudden, Pitfall (Pitfall II, technically) goes from being “a game about swinging on vines and kicking alligators” to one man’s desperate struggle to find his lost niece, hidden away in the heart of darkness?! How cool is that?!

And that’s just the catalog. If you open up the manual, you’ll find urgent tips from the developer (and his hair) about how to beat some of the trickier parts of the game, and an invitation to become a “TOY TROUBLESHOOTER”—a club for people who are really good at Toy Bizarre! TOY TROUBLESHOOTER!! There is NOTHING I want more right now than to become a “Toy Troubleshooter” and win an official Toy Troubleshooter patch.

That’s actually a thing Activision did pretty regularly with their games Back in the Day—you win a high score in one of your games and send them proof, and they’d send you a free patch. There’s a whole bunch of them, but I’m pretty sure this one is objectively the best:

(You get that for playing Freeway, which is—naturally—a game about helping a chicken to cross the road.)

As for the game itself? Meh… Take a look:

Personally, I’d rather play with the box.

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