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July 2015 Retro Gaming Article

July 21, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Pack-in games are long gone, but replacing them with download codes still irritates me

Atari Combat for Atari 2600 Classic Retro Gaming Video Game Review I'm a romantic when it comes to retro game consoles and their pack-in games. My Original Atari 2600 came with Combat. Years later my NES contained Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt while my Virtual Boy was packaged with Mario's Tennis. There were others, but those still stand out most when I reminisce. I often bought a few games to accompany a new console, but I always found something magical about the pack-in game.

Very often the pack-in game was chosen by the manufacturer to give new owners a special experience. Sometimes it was a game that showcased a facet or technology of the console. Other times it was a new release that everyone wanted. Either way I gave the pack-in game more of my attention. It was special and although I wasn't sure why at the time... those games made me lean way in toward the TV.

As consoles moved through their retail cycle, they were often upgraded with the latest hot game to entice consumers to make a purchase. There didn't seem to be a formula to the pack-in model. Many consoles were bundles with the same game for years and then moved to more popular titles as the system aged.

Very often pack-in games were packaged in the same manner as games sold separately on the shelves. The cartridge was in a box with inserts and a manual. Occasionally the cart was included without the fanfare of packaging, but I remember many of mine came with full blown wraps!

Download Codes are NOT pack-in Games

Splatoon is a download While spending the Summer with my son, I realized the Wii U will never drop in price until I purchase one - so we did. But we did our research. Of particular interest was Splatoon. We'd seen lots of advertising and it was getting a lot of press. We concluded we would get Splatoon with our Wii U and then decide what other games we wanted. He was excited for Mario Kart and I wanted DKC Tropical Freeze.

As luck would have it, Best Buy had an exclusive Wii U Splatoon bundle. We headed off to the mall. In our local Best Buy we easily found the Splatoon'd Wii U console boxes and headed toward the register.

As we gazed at the box with a sensation of glory, I read the description. Splatoon was a free download - not a pack-in game! Ugh!! Suddenly the joy of buying a new console was turning into a reminder of how advancing times don't always yield better outcomes. Overall, Best Buy is like all box-stores - They suck money out of the local economy and do little to benefit it (unless you need a cheap fridge).

We went to Toys R Us and bought a Wii U and a copy of Splatoon. In retrospect, that wasn't the wisest choice from a fiscal standpoint, but I felt much better about the purchase and TRU will give us a slew of bonus points for the purchase.

The bottom line is I still love the tactile feel of a video game, even if it's just a shiny disc. I love CDs not MP3s. I love DVDs not Netflix. I'm a fan of ownership! My stance is dated and will one day (if not already) be the dinosaur of the modern age, but for now my son and I are loving our Nintendo Wii U and he learned a useful history lesson about the joy of pack-in games.

The upcoming Retro VGS will be the first console in decades to offer a pack-in game... and it's a retro game!

History of Pack-in Games

A more robust list can be found on Digital Press' List of Pack-in Games

Astrocade - Gunfight/Checkmate/Calculator/Scribbling (built-in)
Atari 2600 (1977-1983) - Combat
Atari 2600 (1983-?) - Pac-Man
Atari 2600 - Asteroids
Atari 2600 Jr. (some models) - 32-in-1
Atari 2600 (Coleco Gemini) - Donkey Kong Jr.
Atari 2600 (Sears Video Arcade) - Air-Sea Battle (Sears)
Atari 2600 (Sears Video Arcade II) - Space Invaders (Sears)
Atari 5200 (1982-?) - Super Breakout
Atari 5200 (later version) - Pac-Man
Atari 7800 - Pole Position II
Atari 7800 (Europe) - Asteroids (built-in)
Atari 7800 (Australia & New Zealand) - Asteroids (built-in) and 32-in-1
Atari XEGS - Bug Hunt
Channel F - Tennis/Hockey (built-in)
ColecoVision - Donkey Kong
Colorvision - Monster Chase
Dreamcast - Sega Smash Pack Volume 1
Dreamcast (UK) - Chu Chu Rocket
Dreamcast (Sports bundle 1) - NFL 2K and NBA 2K
Dreamcast (Sports bundle 2) - NFL 2K1 and NBA 2K1
Dreamcast (Sonic bundle) - Sonic 1, Sonic Shuffle and Sonic 2 demo
GameBoy - Tetris
GBC (kiwi) - Pokemon Crystal
GBC (special Pokemon version) - Pokemon Yellow
GameCube - Mario Sunshine
Game Gear - Columns
Game Gear - Sonic the Hedgehog
Genesis 1 (1989-1991) - Altered Beast
Genesis 1 (1991-?) - Sonic the Hedgehog
Genesis 2 - Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Genesis 2 (Sports bundle) - NFL '94
Genesis 2 - Streets of Rage 2
Genesis 2 - The Lion King
Genesis 2 - Vectorman
Intellivision (1979-1983) - Las Vegas Poker & Blackjack
Intellivision (1983-?) - Astrosmash
Jaguar - Cybermorph
Neo Geo Gold - Fatal Fury 2
Neo Geo Pocket Color - Sonic Pocket Adventure
NES - Gyromite and Duck Hunt
NES - Super Mario Bros.
NES (NES Action Set) - Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt
NES (NES Challenge set) - Super Mario Bros. 3
NES (NES Power Set) - Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt/World Class Track Meet
Nintendo 64 - Star Wars Pod Racer
Nintendo 64 - Pokemon
Nintendo 64 - Donkey Kong 64
Nintendo 64 (special Pikachu Edition) - Hey You Pikachu TRU exclusive
NUON - Ballistic
Odyssey - Cartridges 1 - 6
Odyssey2 - Speedway!/Spinout!/Crypto-Logic!
Playstation 2 - Gran Turismo 3
RCA Studio II - Doodle/Patterns/Bowling/Freeway/Addition (built-in)
Saturn - Virtua Fighter
Saturn - Virtua Cop/Daytona USA/Virtua Fighter 2
Saturn - Sega Rally Championship
Sega 32X (1995) - Star Wars Arcade
Sega 32X (1995) - Doom
Sega 32X (1996) - Virtua Fighter
Sega CD (launch) - Sega Classics 4-in-1 CD, Sherlock Holmes I, Sol Feace, Hot Hits/Rock Paintings
Sega CD 2 - Sewer Shark
Sega CDX - Sega Classics 5-in-1, Ecco the Dolphin and Sonic CD
Sega Master System - Snail Maze (built-in)
Sega Master System (Light Phaser package) - Hang-On/Safari Hunt
Sega Master System (SegaScope package) - Missile Defense 3D
SNES (launch) - Super Mario World
SNES - Killer Instinct
SNES - Donkey Kong Country
SNES (1997) - Yoshi's Island
SNES (UK) - Street Fighter II
Turbografx-16 - Keith Courage in Alpha Zones
Vectrex - Mine Storm (built-in)
Virtual Boy - Mario's Tennis
Wii - Wii Sports
X-Box (Sega bundle) - Jet Set Radio Future and Sega GT

A more robust list can be found on Digital Press' List of Pack-in Games

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