Toys R Us Gaming Holiday Ad From 1996

Deck the halls with nostalgia thanks to this old Toys R Us print ad from 1996.

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Christmas comes but once a year, and so do warm childhood memories of Christmas’s past: sweet memories of visiting the mall Santa Clause to get your picture taken, decorating the Christmas tree in full holiday regalia, and opening presents on Christmas morning (or eve if your parents were in a good mood that night. Kids, remember, let Mommy and Daddy have their eggnog. You’ll thank me!)

For me, and I’m pretty sure for those of you reading this, videogames and the celebration of that late December holiday are intertwined. Linked together from when you got that NES or copy of Ninja Gaiden that most likely became your introduction into the grand interactive medium that has now become something way more than simple block-shaped figures on a TV screen.

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But it’s good to reflect from time-to-time. Especially, in an age were our “wants and needs” can be quickly satisfied with a click of a button, the swipe of a credit card, or the tap of a touch screen. That’s why in some respects Christmas is so darn important, it partly allows us to cherish times long gone, of people no longer with us, and where we’ve come on this journey that is life with people we love.

Putting a little timely perspective into our noggins today is this ancient – well, ancient by our digital “who makes print-ads anymore?” standards – Toys R Us holiday ad from 1996 where the trend in gaming world that year was the 32-bit era: the rise of Sony as a console powerhouse, Nintendo experimenting with 3D polygons, and the beginning of the end for Sega (it’s kind of bad sign that your console isn’t doing so well when it has to give away three games in order to incentivize a purchase.)

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Importantly though, holy balls of holly, check out those mid-90s prices! Geeze, I would absolutely love to pay $200 dollars for a gaming console or $60 for a portable right now. Videogame accessories, too, gosh darn it. $24.99 for a PlayStation One controller compared to about $54 for a DualShock 3? Yes, please!

If there’s one thing this ad really illustrates though, it’s where inflation has affected the industry the most and where it hasn’t since 1996, namely in the hardware department. Games, as much as we complain through message boards or Twitter how cash-depleting they are today, were as expensive back then as they are now.

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Heck, even more so when you scan over prices for select Super Nintendo games like Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 ($69.99) or Street Fighter Alpha 2 ($69.99.) Of course as I should point out, those were cartridge-based games, which naturally were more expensive because of their pricey-constructed format.

I don’t think I’ll ever rant again about videogame prices after seeing this dinosaur-ic Holiday flyer… well, maybe for a week or two. No promises. What about you? What feelings of nostalgia do these pictures represent for you, reader? I’d like to know in the comments below. And a big thanks to Imgur user pwnpocalypse for unearthing and sharing this Toys R Us ads with us.

Meanwhile, we here at Walyou will try our darnedest to share what’s fresh and funky on the world wide web like an amazing Super Mario Bros. stop motion video made with beads or a Kevin Bacon portrait made out of bacon! Mmm, bacon. I think I’ll get some. Possibly with pancakes. Oh, I know, bacon pancakes — oh yeah!

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