Monday Box Review! (Froggo)
Its Froggo time once more as we look at the packaging their terrible games came in and not the terrible games themselves. If you were going to break into such an antiquated market as the Atari 2600 you’ve gotta have some real head turning game boxes, and did Froggo deliver? Well, no, not really, you need to remember that in 1987 the NES, Master System, 7800, and XEGS, were already on the market and the Sega Genesis was coming out the following year, there were so many other things people would rather buy or wait for than an Atari 2600 game. But I don’t think Froggo either knew or cared about the total disinterest in their products since they made way more product than they would ever sell which has led to the current game market being awash with NOS that are being sold for sometimes less than loose cartridges of the exact same games. So… How did Froggo try to turn your head back in 1987? Well let’s take a look at the boxes.
There really isn’t very much going on with these boxes, they’re pretty standard low-effort budget jobs that were made as cheaply as possible. The boxes are made from white cardboard which is a departure from the standard brown recycled cardboard from the time, but this was a deliberate choice, since the cardboard was already white they didn’t have to spend money on ink to print it as a different color which means they can save a bunch of money on white ink since the backgrounds of the boxes are just plain white. The pictures on the front of the boxes had a habit of being better than the games themselves, the picture was tied into the premise of the game as games usually did. Sea Hunt has a picture of a treasure chest guarded by a shark and Sea Hawk had a picture of a jet plane taking off (I swear I’ve seen that picture somewhere before), the only game that doesn’t make much sense is Cruise Missile which has a picture of a flying saucer on it despite being called Cruise Missile, they should’ve stuck with Exocet. Overlaid on the picture is the title of the game in bold serif lettering with a grey drop shadow and that’s it for the front, on the back there is a decent artist rendition of the game and a blurb that ranges from long to a short novella. I must add that the boxes seem to made from fairly low quality cardboard since these are some of the most fragile top flaps I’ve ever encountered, they’ll crease if you look at them funny, Even the Taiwan Cooper Boxes have more durable top flaps than these and they were probably made for a couple cents in somebody’s basement.
The Manuals are fairly standard fare; they are either two pages folded or three pages tri-folded that state the basic story and premise of the game, there is no extra artwork or screenshots apart from a repeat picture from the back of the box. It’s all just the minimum amount needed to call it an instruction manual, though I think ‘Instruction Pamphlet” might be more fitting. The only thing that stands out is something that everybody under the sun knows about and that is the warranty card being made from actual cardboard and not paper, they probably just took extra cardboard from the box making process and printed the warranty on it to save some more money.
The cartridges are the Activision style with the wraparound labels and small bumps and divots to make stacking a little easier. The label is just the box art with the name of the game on the end of the cartridge, just your basic copy/paste job. One odd thing I noticed is that the PCB’s used in Froggo cartridges actually have a chip on the exterior of the cartridge and not housed in the interior like every other game cartridge does, seriously check your carts, a chip is outside of the cartridge, I don’t know what it does since I can see a shine from the chip connectors on the inside of the cartridge meaning there is a chip on the inside as well, it is seriously weird.
All around Froggo boxes are oddities lacking in both point and quality, but that just makes them even more collectible. The low quality construction and easy damagability make a pristine copy worth even more (in my eyes at least) and the odd white boxes make them stand out on the shelf and make for an excellent conversation starter into what a stupid company Froggo was. Sure the games may not be worth the nest of plastic and cardboard they’re housed in but hey, they look good on a shelf.