The Nostalgia of Video Game Box Inserts

Remember when you bought a new game, and you couldn’t possibly wait to open it until you got home?  So you opened it the car and immediately flipped through the manual to read every last word? (and if you’re as weird as me, you smelled it because it smelled like new game and it was glorious!). And there were a lot of other somewhat random things too, like the excellent “operation cards” that came with Nintendo 64 games. I love all of those video game box inserts!

Sonic & Knuckles box insert

I miss those days. And apparently I’m not alone-games that are complete with all inserts fetch crazy high prices on eBay! A young me never would’ve guessed the nostalgic power of silly video game box inserts.

What were some of those delightful yet unnecessary inserts, you ask? I went through some of my game collection (a lot of these come from the N64 era) and wanted to share some fun examples of random things I found. Read to the end to see a “new old release” from Limited Run too!

Advertisements for Nintendo Power and game guides

These were the most common. Don’t you wish you could send in that card and your $19.95 to re-subscribe to Nintendo Power and get a free guide? What a deal!

Box insert for Eternal Darkness player's guide
Did anyone choose the Eternal Darkness hat?? If so, please tell me you still wear it today!
Box insert from Banjo Kazooie with players guide offer
I love that Nintendo Power is shamelessly using Mumbo here. Cool to see an unfinalized Banjo-Kazooie logo too!

Upcoming game teasers

This was a great way to advertise when the internet was still young. Ads like these just helped make new games seem appealing!

Animal Crossing GameCube flyer advertisement
Animal Crossing was so mysterious before it launched. I remember all the cryptic character trophies from Smash Melee too!

Merchandise for the game

I never actually ordered anything from one of these advertisements (sound off in the comments if you have!) but I’m pretty dang sure I should have. I’m very tempted to call the number at the bottom and see if I still can…

Box insert for Ocarina of Time merchandise
This came with the Collector’s Edition of Ocarina of Time. I think we could all use a Zelda pocket watch.
Sonic & Knuckles merchandise box insert
I definitely regret not purchasing the Sonic & Knuckles mug from all this “hot stuff”!

Shameless promotion designed to look “cool”

This is what the 90s did best! Sega really pioneered this in their attempt to overtake Nintendo in the “Console Wars”. Look all the awesome games and merch on this poster included with Sonic 1!

Advertisement poster for Sega Genesis games included with Sonic 1
Sega was really trying to do what Nintdidn’t!

Of course, Nintendo eventually responded with their colorful “Play It Loud” campaign, that was equally as 90s as Sega’s marketing. This insert came with a lot of Game Boy boxes:

Play It Loud Game Boy poster advertisment
This is definitely the most intense Kirby and Link’s Awakening have ever looked!

Surveys about the player base

These might be my favorite in terms of nostalgia. I LOVE the answer choices for some of these questions, both because some answers don’t exist anymore, and because some are just so reflective of the time. This one is from the box for Mystical Ninja on the N64, which I bought used from Blockbuster for about $10 back in the day:

Konami player survey from mystical ninja N64 box
We must help Konami make the “hottest” games! Also, is it too late to tell them their choices of “favorite hobbies” are not stereotypically 90s enough?

New Limited Run inserts!

Let’s be honest, if you’ve found your way to my website, then you’re probably familiar with Limited Run. One of my favorite things about their physical releases is that they ALWAYS include a manual, and the Collector’s Editions always come with all sorts of bonus goodies that remind me of heyday of game inserts. I want to share one of my favorites that is a throwback to the N64 era of glorious box art:

Limited Run Turok Collector's Edition Inserts
Even though I rented this game several times, I never actually owned it on the N64. Thanks, Limited Run!

Other physical releases are now including things like maps, stickers, and comics too! The absolutely stellar Hollow Knight has a gorgeous map and manual:

Hollow Knight Switch physical with manual and map of Hallownest
I hope to see more of these in the future!

Do you miss the days of random video game box inserts? Or am I just a crazy person? Let me know in the comments below, and please share any awesome ones you remember, or still have!

2 thoughts on “The Nostalgia of Video Game Box Inserts”

  1. I distinctly remember looking through the n64 console “got game? Get gear” flyer after launch.
    I thought “I just saved up and spent all this money to get an N64 and Super Mario64, how will I ever afford a $25 hat??”

    1. There were so many cool (and unnecessarily expensive) things in that flyer! Sadly recycled it with my N64 box many years ago. Hope to track one down again someday!

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