I’ll admit that when it comes to the 2600 library, and actually most game libraries in general, the box designs can get rather samey or at the very least lacking in originality. Some consoles like the NES and 2600 can have very creative box arts, and in a few unique cases box shapes and designs, though the PC still reigns supreme in that respect. Other consoles like the Sega Master System, and SNES had rather boring designs where the art itself is limited to the front of the box while the rest of it is a simple pattern or just empty space, again though, this doesn’t apply to all SMS and SNES games but it can feel rather cookie cutter and mass produced. The box is the easiest way to persuade a customer to either buy your game or actually just buy the console and your game, a good box art could be a system seller, hello again SMS. When it comes to the 2600, there were so many companies trying to grab your attention, to get you to pick up their game over their competition. I find many 2600 box arts and overall designs to be adequate; they’d get me interested, even though almost all of them fall into the trap of not showing you a screenshot of the game itself, one publisher however went above and beyond with their box designs, and I am honestly shocked that it was this publisher in particular, Tigervision may just have the best boxes for the 2600.
Tigervision took the hard route when designing their boxes, instead of just having a small picture on the front of the box, and having the back be a solid color of some sort, they made the box art cover the whole box, with exceptions of the top and bottom flaps. The only game they didn’t do this for was Springer, but I doubt that very few people are going to complain or even think about that particular game. The only Tigervision box I have is Jawbreaker and I’ve gotta say that this is one high quality box. Despite being over 30 years old the box still has that fresh ink smell that most new games have, and the printing is of extremely high quality. Instead of being matte like most boxes, Jawbreaker has been printed in glossy ink giving at a wonderful high quality shine. Y’know what else is shiny? The title. It’s printed in metallic ink, and to add even more class the cardboard has been raised slightly, like what you’d find on a fancy paperback novel, as far as I can see from scans of the boxes, all of them do this and I absolutely love it. The overall construction of the box is sturdy, likely due to the large amount of ink present on the cardboard, originally the games had a plastic tray on the inside to hold the cartridge in place and add some stability, but as we all know cheap, thin, plastic doesn’t age very well, and my box came without the insert. You can substitute the insert with any 2600 or Colecovision box inserts, perhaps a Colecovision Parker Brothers box insert. One thing I’ve noticed while browsing pictures of these boxes is that almost all of them have a piece of scotch tape affixed to the back-bottom of the box, even my box has some scotch tape on the bottom, huh, how odd.
The manuals are nothing special, they are just two to three pages in the pamphlet style that we see so often, gotta save money on those staples. They just contain the very basics of information on the game, a standard game chart detailing the different game variations, and that’s really it. There are no screenshots in the manual and the only artwork is what you see on the front of the box, it’s fairly standard and cookie cutter as manuals go, nothing at all special. On the back of the manual however they added a note saying that the colors were selected for good contrast for B/W TV’S which is an admirable touch, and something that most publishers had completely forgotten by 1982.
These are some of the coolest looking cartridges in the 2600 library and are instantly distinguishable from their contemporaries. From the colored end labels unique to each game, to the font used on said end label, right down to the double bevel design seen nowhere else in the 2600’s library these things scream unique. With their earlier games Tigervision used unique colored cartridge shells, but after their first few games they settled on a cream color, which is till standout from the generic black shells seen on almost every other cartridge. The labels are fairly standard, just showing the box art, but what isn’t standard is, again, the cartridge shell. These things are compatible with Activision style cartridges, which means they’ll stack nicely on your shelf, along with your Activision, CBS, Absolute, Epyx, and Mystique Cartridges. One thing that I noticed what that my boxed copy of Jawbreaker had one of those spring loaded dust covers hat we all love so much, but my loose copy didn’t have one, it wasn’t removed, it was manufactured without it, which is rather odd.
Overall the packaging these games came in is absolutely stellar and is by definitely among the highest quality one can get on the 2600. Unfortunately this is Tigervision we’re talking about and sure enough nothing they made will come cheap. Historically none of these games have sold for less than $60 with the box, I believe I have the current cheapest sale that also came with the game. These things can be incredibly expensive especially with Espial which will cost you an eye watering $1000 dollars for a boxed copy with stickers all over it, even though it’s the same rarity as Polaris which had a boxed copy sell for $69 at auction. Suffice to say, if you want any Tigervision box, expect to pay well for it, because there is no way you’re getting one cheap.