Tag Archive: packaging design

Just a quick one today folks, something I was just going to tweet but figured it deserved a little more than that. This has pretty much been the best part of still living at home at the moment, basically my Mum bought this tin of Jacob’s biscuits as a Christmas gift for someone, I spotted it and immedietly said “I gotta take some pictures of that before you wrap it up.” Seriously, this thing is freaking gorgeous.

Click to view larger.

I can’t find the illustrator though there’s also a McVitie’s tin by the same person available, but man, this is the sort of thing that just encapsulates the spirit of Christmas. That warm, lovely feeling you have in your head when you fondly think of the holidays, I get that when I imagine this scene coming to life. This tin is just all kinds of wonderful,  and I think it’s a real shame it hasn’t recieved more attention from us online design types. So a very early seasons greetings from Coffee Stained Papers, I hope some people out there dig this as much as me.


Chapter One, Genesis

It’s got to the point now where pretty much everything I post on here is about some old, retro piece of coolness that I have found, purchased or greatly admire… and this entry is no different. A while back I mentioned my friends and I rekindling our love for Sega Mega Drive‘s, the amazing game console so many of us grew up with, and at the weekend we finally hooked up the model one for a trip down memory lane.

I can’t imagine how many hours I spent playing on my old Mega Drive back in the day. Back before games gained a 3rd dimension, before memory cards and online multiplayer, before killing hookers became a digital reality, gaming was a much simpler playground. Just play through the game, go from one side of the screen to the other, and don’t die. That’s about as complicated as shit got in the early 90s. I’m only 21, so I’m still at the age where I’m in most video game’s demographic, but in the last few years I’ve found myself not being arsed to slog away countless hours on some multi-layered, complex, mission after mission tour of duty. I would say with the exception of the Grand Theft Auto series, but even the last one of those I didn’t bother completing. With the increase of work and better things to do (namely, outside) I use my Playstation 3 to play my friends at Fifa or CoD occasionally, and watch Blu-Rays. I have literally bought one game in the last year. It’s weird that the magic 16-bit games had when I was a kid can’t even be slightly captured now, with technology so far advanced they’re probably one step away from telepathic controls.

That magic was present at least on some level when we reverted back to our inner-children in just the presence of our favourite console, in full working order, and on a television it was clearly not designed to accommodate. Having to blow into the cartridge to make it work, seeing that white text that appears when you fire a game up, and simply holding the controllers again, was just wonderful. Though I have to say the controllers are a little cumbersome compared to the almost-perfect PS2 / 3 dualshock’s I’ve gotten used to over the last few years. But back in the 90’s we simply didn’t know any better.

We only had three games, and started off the night with a tournament on Italia ’90. Now Fifa is pretty much the only modern game I play regularly, so going back to when the camera floated above the players heads was a great change of pace. And a change of pace it literally was too, as more goals get scored than throw-ins, corners and free-kicks combined, with results of 10-9 or something equally insane.

The memories I have of Italia ’90 from my childhood aren’t exactly extensive, as I never owned a copy, but I’d often hang out with a guy that did. I remember this game being featured on the mighty 3-game release ‘Mega Games 1‘, along with ‘Columns‘ and ‘Super Hang-On‘, both games I enjoyed playing more as a matter of fact. As soon as we fired up the cartridge it all came flowing back, the 16-bit music, the bloke shouting “GOAL!” in an almost incoherent way that sounds more like “GOOOOOOARGH!”, and of course the game’s simplicity. Literally single matches, and little else. Which is probably why I used to get bored after one match and choose to ride pixellated motorbikes instead.

The next game we played is arguably the most famous video game of all time. ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ is the first game I ever remember playing, and the one that everyone has most likely had a go on at some point in time. My friends and I have had conversations about Sonic that have lasted hours, discussing everything from the music of each zone to the infamous cheat code of ‘Up+Down+Left+Right+A+START’. Just because we were playing it all the time at the age when shit gets ingrained into your memory. This eventually led to one us claiming he knew the game so well he could complete it from start to finish in 15 minutes.

This, of course, didn’t happen thanks to years of NOT playing Sonic the Hedgehog, and we were only halfway through when we noticed it was 2am. Seeing each level again, hearing the music, spotting the hidden TV boxes and springs, it all felt so familiar. A cool moment came when we were talking about the zones and we found ourselves united in our feelings towards the water-based ‘Labyrinth Zone’.  It seems I’m not alone in my childhood memories of annoyance with that particular zone, “Labyrinth, is such a cunt.” was a choice quote as we reminisced, and we described the ‘about-to-drown’ music as “The stuff nightmares are made of.”

While I had the stuff at my house, I took the opportunity to scan a bunch of stuff in. Holding the boxes and manuals again, it was like they’d never left.

Most games on the system, if I remember correctly (which chances are, I’m not as I was between the ages of 4 and 11 at the time), had similar packaging cover layouts, with this black and white grid background. It kinda reminds me of the movie Tron, or maybe a cool cutting mat. While there was never much to the design and layout of the back, always a set of screenshots and little more, the front covers usually always featured some really awesome illustration that made the game look amazing. Obviously they’re not going to put 16-bit pixel art on the front, but I always found it amusing at just how exaggerated the artwork was. In the case of Italia ’90 above, that image really is a far cry from the football we see when we insert the cartridge.  Some other really cool examples I remember are Altered Beast, Streets of Rage 2 and Super Thunder Blade. Often, the artwork was actually better than the game turned out to be.

The game manuals are another really defining part of why I think so many people remember the Genesis / Mega Drive. The elongated shape made the fronts an odd canvas for the artwork, as they’d usually just crop whatever was on the front, and the insides meant to several columns of text that most of us never bothered to read, especially the stuff about taking care of the system itself. ‘Do not pour water directly inside the cartridge slot.’, thank God they put that in there, because I was about to fill my Mega Drive with 2 litres of Evian as it appeared thirsty.

A nice side note, while I was flicking through the Sonic manual, this piece of paper fell out…

Some helpful soul, at some point over the games life and numerous owners took the time to write down the famous level select cheat code so that no more would gamers feel the pain of getting all the way to the final zone on your last continue and dying right before the boss. Pretty cool, I thought.

I also got the chance to scan in the console’s instruction manual too, which has some nice diagrams of the system that are just begging to be made into t-shirts…

Most the stuff is irrelevant to todays s-video, HDMI home theatre systems, but it’s cool remembering how TV was with aerial inputs. Right, well I think I’ve rambled on far too much already, especially as there’s another 16-bit blog post in the works featuring the games I remember most fondly (thanks to the wonderful online resource that is ROMs and emulators). Thanks for reading my homage to geek nostalgia, it was the most fun I’ve had sitting at home in quite a while, reliving the magic of the early 90s. Nostalgia FTW!