Big Box PC Games

📅 Posted 2020-10-12

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Recently I’ve been following the trend on collecting “big box” PC games. You know the ones, mostly from the 90’s, from particular software houses like Apogee, Sierra, Lucasarts, MicroProse, Maxis…

This is a great video explainer from Ahoy (and the host’s voice is so damn calming, too):

Thanks to a tip-off from a work colleague, I picked up a nice copy of MegaRace (which for some reason had a 2nd CD copy in the box - bonus!) and thus the collecting begins…

Before I go too far though, what big box software have I got squirrelled away in the cupboard? Having a poke around, I’ve found:

  • Sierra On-Line’s Castle of Dr Brain (I still love how they were called “On-Line” so dorky yet so right)
  • Microsoft’s Golf, which was bundled with our 486 ‘Osborne’ computer
  • Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee
  • CSIRO’s The Dynamic Rainforest, which I’ll be honest in saying I demanded this from my parents at the time and it’s really something that’s more at home in a school library
  • Expert Software’s Landscape for Windows, from when I wanted to be a landscape architect

I have a few bits of $10 shareware around as well, but usually some sort of cheap ‘mindbenders’ puzzle type games where the price pretty much covers the cost of disk + package production and you’re free to give your friends a copy, too.

And what was my first ‘big box’ game I bought with my own money?

Turns out it was the PC version of Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee which I picked up from the Games Wizards in Penrith, for $49.95. I played the PlayStation version at a friend’s place and was instantly hooked - it’s still a great game and despite being only 640x480, the art style still looks amazing. “Follow me!”.

I did buy other PC games along the way - but don’t have any of those boxes sadly. I remember having a PC Platinum version of Abe’s Exodus, which would be good to have but hey, no biggie.

Now, what if I wanted all of the great titles from the golden era of big box PC games? Well I figured a lot of them would fetch some high prices, but the only way to find out would be to produce a list and do some searching.

Some Requirements

This is also my way of listing out some absolutely cracker games from the 90’s that I used to play. But what’s a list without some criteria?

  • I haven’t listed everything from that era, just the games I’d consider collecting if money was no object!
  • All prices are including shipping to Australia and are in AUD
  • Generally, CD versions where that makes sense for the talkie adventure games and steering away from ‘classics’ reissues
  • Looking for PC games only and where the cardboard box and hopefully most of the original package inclusions are present
  • Sticking to old faithful eBay as the only source, even though the prices are probably higher there compared to other places (I don’t do Facebook so I’m not looking there)
  • I’m not fussed if it’s an international version (finding Australian releases is going to be tough) but the game has to be in English

The Price List

Bio Menace$?Can’t find it! I remember playing the shareware version and my mum was appalled at the violence
Captain Comic 2$75A lot of cash for a single 3.5" floppy disk
Commander Keen$600-$3000$3k… you could buy this or buy a car. Comes with Cosmo’s Cosmic Adventure, at least
Day of the Tentacle$250-$600Goes with the rule… IF boxed 90’s adventure game AND (Sierra OR Lucasarts) THEN ka-ching
Descent, Descent II$90My brother has a copy of Descent II, I wonder if he’d been keen to part with it…
Diablo, Diablo II$300 (original), $50 (II)I remember when this came out! Absolutely the talk of the town. Everyone was obsessed witth it. And then we spent far too long playing Diablo II at LAN parties. Clickfest!
Doom, Doom II$200 (sealed)I like it but not as much as I like $200
Duke Nukem (all of them!)$800 (DN2, sealed)The original 2D ones were great action games but then the character of Duke Nukem 3D was … very unique
Epic Pinball$40It looks like each table was available in a separate box, making collecting this game rather space-consuming!
Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis$100 (floppy ver)I’ve only recently finished this game in the last couple of years, could never quite manage it when I first played it in the 90’s. Top game!
Jazz Jackrabbit$?Couldn’t find a decent copy of this obvious Bucky O’Hare meets Sonic smash for the PC - good times and amazing s3m soundtrack
Jill of the Jungle$210 (sealed, Jill Saves the Prince)Spent so much time playing only the first episode of this… my cousins had all 3 versions back in the day, I wonder if they still do?
Lords of the Realm II$40A cheap and cheerful game! Buy it now!
Need for Speed 2, 3$80 (NFS2)Played these to death, especially NFS2. Seems really arcadey now but felt like a ‘sim’ at the time
Oh No! More Lemmings$80Somehow we only ever had the standalone version and the levels were impossible but I still enjoyed this one
Paganitzu$50Seems like a lot for a 1993 shareware game, but this one was preetty fun at the time.
Prince of Persia$7000 (yes really, sealed)Having just finished reading Jordan Mechner’s PoP diary, this would be amazing but look at the prices son!
Quake, Quake II$45Just picked up a boxed copy of Quake II but really I played the first one the most with all the silly mods like Quake Rally!
Sam & Max Hit the Road$150-$300
Secret Agent$35 (disk only)A lesser-known platformer which was loads of fun at the time
Secret of Monkey Island$200Great game but not at this price! Loved the sword fighting and the general swashbuckling piratey theme
Space Quest IV$100 (disk ver)My first Space Quest game and I still love every part of it. Silly time travel shenanigans and oversized hair dryers ftw. And then there’s the ’lick’ action… but this is a family game!
Star Wars: TIE Fighter$90Not bad value for a crazy-big 3D space game - although X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter was pretty good, too!
Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II$100I remember playing the desert oasis map online with dialup … it was fun but somehow I always got destroyed by people using the light saber…
Stunts$600 (mint, unopened)I sank sooo many hours into this game, it was amazing how you could design a track and then DRIVE on it, amazing for 1990!
The Incredible Machine$200 (new, re-issue)Such a creative game to the point where I have books from ‘94 with pencil sketches of my own levels of this game… ha I guess I took my games ‘mobile’ rather creatively with a pencl and paper at the time… This one was pretty hard to find for sale.
Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2$125Such a classic game this one. I’m probably better off gettinig the PS1 version, though
Total Annihilation$100I loved this game and combined with the 10k unit patch, it was an epic battle game
Transport Tycoon$30 - $80The re-release box art is terrible but the original is great!

Now what?

Well, I’m feeling a little sad I didn’t have the foresight to get a job, buy all of these games in big box format and hang on to them for 30 years so I could profit to the max. Turns out some old PC games are worth a fortune now!

The funny thing about collecting PC games is that it’s so darn easy to play pretty much all of them - through digital downloads like on Steam or GOG - or simply in my collection when the disks have long given up the ghost. It’s really different from the console world where there are a fair amount of games available on ‘virtual console’ type marketplaces but the collections are often incomplete. The illegal ROM scene could fill in the gaps, I guess. It would be amazing to have every single title available.

Of course, in compiling this list, I’m now tempted to pick up a few games for the collection, for example, Quake II was too good to go past!

(who was I kidding, surely the reason I’m putting this list together at all is that I would be looking to collect these titles anyway!)

Happy collecting…

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