Sears Catalog Scans: What the Gameboy, NES + More Cost in 1990
Back in 1990, there was no Amazon. Instead, catalogs were a popular destination for video game purchases made from the comfort of your own home. Sears -- which was just surpassed the year prior by Kmart as America's largest retailer -- showcased a smattering selection of options for gamers in the pages of this 1990 catalog.
1990 marked the end of the 8-bit era. The Super Nintendo came out the following year, while the Sega Genesis and Turbo-Grafx-16 already had a head start in 1989. Nevertheless, the NES went out with a bang, providing gamers with releases that squeezed every bit of power from their aging console. Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse -- one of the greatest NES releases -- came out in 1990, and Sears had it on sale for $44.95. What a deal!
In the middle of the transition to 16-bits, video game portables were quickly rising in popularity. Even though it was technologically inferior, Nintendo's Game Boy ate the Atari Lynx and Turbo Express for breakfast. When comparing the prices of the super affordable Game Boy ($89.95) to the 16-bit color Turbo Express ($249.95) and the Atari Lynx ($169.99), the consumers' decision was an easy one. On top of the affordable price, the incredibly rich library of games (Tetris anyone?), led to the Game Boy's handheld domination, selling over 118 million units wordwide. Sega released the Game Gear the following year in 1991, but it too got crushed by the Game Boy.
1990 also had plenty of ridiculous add-ons for sale. Want to watch TV on your 2.6 inch Turbo Express screen? Who wouldn't! Just pay an extra $89.95 for the TurboVision TV tuner on top of the handheld's $249.95 base price. However, make sure you carry around extra AA batteries, as the six batteries the system needed sucked the energy dry in a mere three hours. Or how about the $389.95 Turbo-Grafx CD to add to your Turbo-Grafx-16 system? The expensive price tag was poorly justified by having "high-impact plastic" (whatever that means). Plus this wasn't only for games: You could insert your Slayer CD to get "fantastic sound."
Check out all the 1990 Sears catalog deals below, and remember this -- while the cost of games might increase with the release of next-gen systems at the end of the year, a game that cost $49.95 in 1990 would cost $89 today if adjusted for inflation. So be thankful you're not shelling out even more money than you already are!
[Source: Hugues Johnson]