The Curious Case of the PlayStation

You can judge a game system by how much unnecessary merchandise it inspires. The good ol’ NES had a market nearly to itself in the late 1980s, so companies swamped it with accessories: dust covers, rolling TV carts, turbo switches, eighteen different brands of cleaning kit, and even locks so concerned parents could control their Nintendo-addicted children. In contrast, you won’t find a great deal of third-party knickknacks for the Sega Saturn, the Atari Jaguar, or even the TurboGrafx-16.

The original Sony PlayStation was an obvious success by 1996, and ancillary goods appeared rapidly. Extension cables, boomerang-shaped controllers, and unreliable high-capacity memory cards weren’t necessary, but I found one specialized item helpful: a PlayStation game carrying case.

CD cases are commonplace even today, as the format slips into the digital ether, yet most of them are mere wallets that hold otherwise naked discs. In the 1990s, it was easier to find transporters that let you haul CDs still inside their jewel cases. Sure, they were bulky and held about 30 discs at their largest, but even the 15-CD models offered extra protection for your complete discographies of The Shaggs, New Radicals, Ursa Major, One Dove, The Pulsars, Young Marble Giants, Operation Ivy, The Grays, Leviathan, 4 Non Blondes, Kak, The La’s, David and David, Mother Love Bone, and The Sex Pistols.

That’s the idea behind the PlayStation game carrier from Smart Pouch, which assumed that consumers would be more concerned about damage to $50 game discs than any scuffs incurred by that Spacehog album no one ever played past the first track.

Outwardly, the case sports a nondescript design, affixing the PlayStation logo to a pattern commonly seen on metal floors and pickup truck mats. It’s largely the same product as a tote for regular music CDs, but there’s one key difference inside.

It holds double CDs! Regular jewel cases fit just fine, of course, but you can store up to seven double cases inside this thing.

That won me over. I’d bought a PlayStation mostly for RPGs like Suikoden and Final Fantasy VII, and just about every RPG came in a case twice as wide as standard. That might’ve been due to their thicker manuals, but I suspect that publishers knew their audience. Even drab RPGs like Wild Arms and Beyond the Beyond would give us a good (or barely passable) forty hours of playtime for our money, and an extra-thick case evoked an extra-long game.

Perhaps Smart Pouch had the same idea. What sort of PlayStation owner is obsessive enough to want a storage case for games instead of just stacking them by the TV or sticking them on a shelf? The same sort who owns a lot of double-sized RPGs, that’s who. And if a carrying case with a PlayStation logo pretty much said PLEASE STEAL ME BECAUSE I'M FULL OF GAMES, we would risk it.

I miss carrying cases like this, PlayStation-branded or not. They evoke that time of 1990s youth when you owned only a few CDs and carried them around like they were skittish chinchillas. After all, those compact discs cost fifteen bucks and scratched easily, and that copy of Toad the Wet Sprocket’s In Light Syrup needed to survive for decades to come. CDs no longer have that corona of value, and they no longer need special carrying cases.

1 comment:

  1. Tristan L.5:16 AM

    I remember playing "Beyond the Beyond" and thinking it was horrible, but at the time RPGs were in such short supply that I forced myself to play it.