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DoctorSpuds Reviews Things - Monday Box Review! (Commavid, Short Box)


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I recently had an idea about what to do on Mondays when I don’t write reviews, I want to fill that day with something but I just didn’t know what, until like four minutes ago. As is fairly well known I am a collector of 2600 games, and for most of the time I’ve been a collector I’ve tried to collect my games complete in box (CIB), mainly because it just adds that extra ‘wow’ factor to the collection, and it just makes me happy. I recently realized that I’ve only been focusing on a tiny part of my actual collection since I’ve rarely ever brought attention to the packaging the games come inside of, the box, the manual, and the cartridge, only the game itself, so every Monday for the foreseeable future I will be looking at and giving my personal opinions on the boxes of a particular publisher. This little series will not be sustainable since I don’t have boxes from a large amount of publishers but I think I can make it go on for at least a little while. Now, which publisher to start things off with… Hmmmm, well how about something a bit special, Commavid!

I only have a single box from Commavid, but that single box really is quite a treat to the eyes. The first thing that you’ll notice is how absolutely short the box actually is, this is due to it being an early release, they did release standard sized boxes afterwards, they’re basically the same thing but taller and with a colored strip beneath the title proclaiming it for the Atari VCS. The second thing you’ll notice is how gorgeous the artwork is, from what I found on the forums it was done by a European artist named Noel Berry, preliminary Google searches don’t turn up anything but that’s not surprising. All of the box arts save for two were done by the mysterious Noel Berry, and they all follow the same pattern.Situated around the center of the box there is an angled rectangle with some element of the game jumping out at you, in my Room of Doom box it’s a grey clad fellow who looks straight out of TRON dodging gunfire. It is generally accepted that Mines of Minos is the best of these box arts but personally I’m a fan of Rush Hour’s art. There were two games from Commavid that weren’t drawn by the mysterious Noel Berry, they were Cosmic Swarm and Video Life (as an aside Magicard did not have any artwork) they were done by a local artist and are regarded as being rather crappy, though it seems that Cosmic swarm gets a majority of the criticism, even being called ‘abominable’ by Digitpress in their article about Commavid. I also feel the need to remark about how fantastically sturdy these boxes are, mostly due to the shape of the cartridge and the overall size of the box (for the short ones) coupled with the box insert, which is by far the most complex and solid that I’ve seen in any box thus far. The final thing I want to mention about the box is a particular pet peeve of mine that is avoided… When you open almost any 2600 box the top flap will usually get caught on either the cartridge, or those little cardboard tabs on the sides that are meant to keep it in place, which usually causes it to bend and fold leading to irreparable damage to the flap, which usually leads to more damage since it doesn’t fit properly back down. Due to the unique design of the box insert in the Commavid box, the top flap is held in place more by the insert than the cardboard tabs allowing you to open it without damaging it, which is fantastic since it keeps the box looking nice.

Unfortunately I don’t actually have a manual so I’ll just have to jump to the cartridge. These are the tallest cartridges in the 2600 library, excluding Xonox Double Enders, and are by far the most solid as well; there is an audible thump when you put these things down, not a clatter. They are an inch taller than the standard 2600 cart, heck, they’re even taller than an M-Network or Konami cart but still feel solid enough to break windows with. The cartridge is about an inch and a half shorter than the box it comes in and perhaps two and a half inches shorter than a standard sized box. The label is a standard size wraparound label like those found on Activision carts, and it just shows a picture of the box art, and the basic game and company info that is standard on most carts. On the older carts that had the art drawn by the local artist the labels showed an artist rendition of the game much like the Activision carts did.

Overall these boxes are just beautiful to look at, and coupled with their odd size make an exotic addition to any collection. The main problem is that that all of these games place very high on the rarity scale, with the most common being a six and the rarest being a ten. You’d be hard pressed to find anything on Ebay priced below $80, this stuff is just that rare, I got lucky with my copy since it didn’t have a manual which lowered the price considerably, but now I have to find a manual for cheaper than 20 bucks, and considering the only one I’ve seen is up for 45 dollars, I may have gotten the short end of the stick on this one.

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