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Posted on Jun 7th 2017 at 08:00:00 AM by (MetalFRO)
Posted under CIB, complete in box, collecting, game boxes, manuals

1 of 3 collection shelves in my game room, this houses a handful of my favorite
games, along with a large number that I've only recently acquired.

If you are into collecting games, you've undoubtedly seen the abbreviation of "CIB" thrown around quite a bit.  For the uninitiated, or as a refresher, that's gamer-speak for "Complete In Box."  As a collector, you'll have to decide whether or not you want to collect loose games, mostly to play, or complete games, for any number of reasons.  You may like the whole package because of the history of games, and the fact that most console games in today's world don't come with manuals.  Perhaps you'd like to replicate the experience of being a child, opening the game, and reading through the manual before you play it.  Or, maybe it's a pride thing, and having the total package is tantamount to some kind of bragging rights.  Whatever the scenario you more closely fit, collecting complete game packages has become a trendy thing to do in gaming circles.

The sticky wicket comes when you try to define the term.  What constitutes "complete" in the most complete sense (sorry, pun intended)?  In my estimation, there are two distinct schools of thought on this.  One would say that "complete" consists of the game, the manual, and the original box or packaging.  In the case of a newer game, where there's no manual, then generally the box with art in-tact, and the game itself would fit into this model.  The second school would say that "complete" is literal, and means that each and every item that would be included in a release of a game would be required to be collected together for an item to truly be complete.  My personal inclination is to point to the first school of thought as the definitive way to denote "CIB", and the second school as 'TCIB', or Totally Complete In Box.  I say that, but there are caveats and qualifications that need to be taken into account, which I will use the remainder of this article to elaborate upon.

Game, Box, and Manual as CIB

My reasons for the first school of thought making up the "CIB" definition are thus.  First, many games, especially in the first several generations, received multiple print runs, and come in different variants.  Each variant contained 3 essential items: 1) a box, or packaging of some sort, 2) a manual, to explain the game's controls, story, and feature functionality, and 3) naturally, the actual game media itself.  Depending on the print run, the package may have included a poster, advertising of some sort, perhaps preview materials for an upcoming game, and occasionally a bonus item for early adopters.  Across the entire spectrum of a game's release cycle, however, the 3 constant items remained.  Without these essentials, one wouldn't consider their purchase of a new game to be complete.  A parent wouldn't walk into a store to buy a brand new game, if they couldn't look at the box, would they?  If the box stated the game had no instructions, would they have thought twice before purchasing said game for their child?  And of course, no one wants to buy a "new" game from a store, but not actually get the game itself.

Not all variants are created equal.  The original release of Bayonetta 2 clearly indicates
that it comes with a bonus game, the original Bayonetta, ported over to the Wii U.  However, there's
no way you would know this version of Raiden IV is the "GameStop Exclusive" version, which came
with a bonus soundtrack CD, unless you opened it, because there's no mention of it on the sleeve.

This definition becomes slightly muddied when you talk about games that include another essential item that is separate from the manual.  The most simplistic example I can give is that of the original Metal Gear Solid, where one clue you need in the game is on the back of the game case, so if you have a box, the discs, and the manual, but not the outer art and tray card, you'd be missing out.  A more common example is that of StarTropics - the game includes a letter from the main character's uncle, and as you find out by playing the game, without the internet, or a friend to tell you the answer, you need that letter, and the information it can provide, to complete the game.  From personal experience, I played the original PC version of Starflight growing up, and it included a "code wheel" item, which was a form of copy protection.  On random occasions, when you pull your ship out of the space dock, you'd be accosted by intergalactic police, and be asked to look up something via the code wheel.  If you answer incorrectly too many times, your space ship gets impounded, and you essentially lose the game and have to start over.  Without the code wheel, or at least a document containing every possible code wheel combination, you can't play the game.  In instances such as this, an exception has to be made to the "GBM" rule (Game, Box, Manual) to accommodate what additional item(s) may be required to actually play the game.

The other, potentially troubling wrench in the works, is that of the special or limited edition.  If a game is released in both a standard and special edition, then I would say CIB for a Limited or Special edition should include any special packaging, and any additional items that make up the particular edition.  If the SE/LE print includes all that the original game includes, plus a special controller, such as the original pre-order edition of Xenoblade Chronicles on the Wii, that would be required to be consider CIB.  The same could be said for any special release that contains a CD soundtrack, DVD super-play (Japanese shmups, in particular), included comic book, or other similar extra items.  Whatever the additional contents are that are featured to make a game's release more exclusive, those items should be included to consider a special or limited edition item as CIB.

Game, Box, Manual, and everything else as TCIB

As mentioned above, my definition for a game that includes all items would be TCIB, or Totally Complete In Box.  This means not just the manual, game, and box, but anything else originally included.  This can be anything from the plastic hang tab on a Sega Genesis or Master System plastic box to a loose warranty card, poster, advertisement, non-essential supplemental materials, additional CD soundtrack, a game demo for an upcoming title, and anything else that hasn't already been outlined here.  If a certain pressing of a game included an advertisement from the developer, outlining several existing titles still on the market, some people would consider that to be essential to having a fully complete game.  Others may say that a missing warranty card, or missing hang-tab might disqualify a release from being considered truly complete.

Here's my comparison between TCIB and CIB.  On the left, Drill Dozer for the Game Boy
Advance.  Not only do I have the box, game, and manual, but I also have the cardboard cartridge caddy,
the Game Boy precautions booklet, a Game Boy Player advertisement, and Nintendo Power advertisement,
but it also includes a short little comic book that tells the intro to the game's story.  On the right, quite
simply the box, manual, and game cartridge for the NES classic Kickle Cubicle.  No styrofoam
spacer, no warranty card, nothing else that may have been a part of the original package.

My rationale for distinguishing between a bog-standard CIB and TCIB is primarily as stated before: not every pressing of a game is going to include every item.  I have a handful of Japanese Sega Saturn games, that include the spine card that is always present with the game in the original plastic.  However, not all purchasers of the games kept those.  To my knowledge, there are no spine cards with essential information for playing the game, so it wouldn't be necessary to have that to consider the package "complete" from the standpoint of the experience itself.  Having the spine card is a nice touch, however, and lends itself to that "total completion" metric.  I liken it to beating a game.  For non-completionists, "beating" a game and "completing" a game are one in the same.  I "complete" a game usually by playing through the main story or campaign, and getting that primary set of objectives completed.  Any side quests, extra missions, bonus levels, or other niceties are just icing on the cake, but aren't required to have experienced the main game itself.  Completionists, however, have that propensity toward obtaining every possible item in a game, completing all non-essential side quests, talking to every non-player character exhaustively, to ensure there's no detail they haven't uncovered, and so on.  This takes a much larger investment of time, and if that were required to actually finish the main game, most of us wouldn't even bother.  We all have lives to live and responsibilities to attend to, not to mention other games we'd like to play as well.  However, those of us in the "non-completionist" camp still play through the main game, and get the overarching experience, even if we haven't scoured every inch of a game.

If you're going to go full-on TCIB, be prepared to shell out big money for games like
Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete, on the original PlayStation.  In addition to the game's double-
size case and 3 game discs, there's a bonus disc with a making-of presentation, a bag of cardboard
stand-up figures, the paper explaining those things, a replica of Lucia's pendant, complete with a
handy-dandy storage bag, a fold-out map, the "Omake Box" to hold all of the extras in, a soundtrack CD in a separate cardboard sleeve, a hard-bound manual, and of course, the outer box.  For good measure, and because I bought it as a new release, I kept the sticker that goes atop the double-size game CD case.

In closing, if you're a collector who is serious about purchasing boxed games with manuals, it's good to take a position of whether you consider the GBM rule to be sufficient for CIB status, or whether or not any additional supplemental items are essential before a game in your collection can wear that badge.  Once you've made your decision, that will, of course, inform your game collection purchasing decisions.  It should be noted, though somewhat obvious at this point, that choosing my 'TCIB' definition as your 'CIB' standard will likely mean you'll own far fewer complete games, as many of the non-essential items have been lost to time.  It's also sometimes hard to tell, unless you've owned a certain item since it was new, whether or not a specific print run of a game contained a specific additional item.  That fact alone is enough to sway me to a simpler, more "essentials-based" definition of CIB, and I believe I've made a strong case for that above regardless.  Whatever your personal leanings are on this topic, remember one thing: this is a hobby, and it's supposed to be fun!  Don't stress yourself out, or worse, go bankrupt trying to obtain an elusive poster, CD soundtrack, or stray warranty card just for bragging rights.  By the same token, remember that not everyone has the same views on this topic, so be respectful when discussing it with fellow collectors.  There may be plenty of valid arguments on both sides that I haven't covered here, as I realize I'm just scratching the surface on this topic.  Good luck in all your game hunting endeavors!

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Very cool to get some insight into your collecting habits. I don't hear it much anymore, but I used to see this definition of CIB a lot
C= Cart/CD
I= Instructions
B= Box

Basically CIB it was a checklist so you might own a CB copy of Super Mario Bros 3 that was missing the manual for example.

PS - Lol, that VIP made your favorite games shelf!
I agree with Crabby. That VIP should be in a box protector with a stand. Display it proudly next to Silent Service. I like the term TCIB. It helps flesh out the concept of CIB without bogging down too much. As far as collecting video games goes it's as anal retentive as you make it.

I really dig the TCIB term and what it means (although it really puts me in the mind of ice cream for some reason).  While I've kind of withdrawn from the collector's market, the ability to know if you are getting all the paperwork that comes with a game would really help in a buying/trading decision. 
@Crabmaster2000: I guess I've never heard the CIB definition you mention, but it makes perfect sense, so I can see how that would provide a clearer distinction between "the basics", as I laid out, and a more fully complete package.  I like that idea, though.  Also, this isn't a "favorites" game shelf, LOL!  VIP is on there (still-sealed) because I won it in a Twitter raffle, and because I'm sure the game is laughably bad, I thought it would be funny to put it up for display Tongue

@Addicted: I don't have my boxed copy of Silent Service yet, but to quote Wayne Campbell: "It will be mine.  Oh yes, it will be mine."  I know of a shop where I might be able to acquire a boxed copy for a reasonable price.  As for the anal retentive bit, I totally get that.  I found a copy of X-Men for the Genesis a couple years back, and it was, by my own definition, TCIB: it has the instructions, the poster, and the warranty card.  But I would have been just as happy with the box, manual, and cart.  The extra stuff is just nice to have.  But in other instances, I want the extras.  I bought the Genesis port of Starflight about a year or so ago, and it came with the nice thick manual, but no starmap.  Now, as a long-time fan of the game, and someone who played the PC original (and still owns it TCIB), I would like to eventually find the map to include, but that's partially just because I'm a fan of the game, and I want to have that particular extra.  It's not essential to have the map to play the game.  So I think as long as you set limits for yourself, it can be very manageable in terms of drawing that line between CIB and TCIB, and what you feel like you "have" to obtain.

@bombatomba: Glad you dig the term - it's just something I've come up with to help distinguish things for myself, and I thought I would share with everyone else.  Sites like RFGen help me make better collection and purchasing decisions, because of game/box/manual/etc. photos, so I can see whether or not I'm getting this variant or that, and that sort of thing.  That said, it's almost unfathomable that we could ever have an exhaustive database which would notate what came with each game in its totality, because such an endeavor would be nigh impossible to achieve.
I'm with you on leaning more towards a simple game, box, manual form of CIB. I love to get the extras, but don't mind if i'm missing them. That being said, what i consider to be unnecessary extras are mostly things like ads, precaution booklets, warranty cards, etc. if a game was supposed to have a sleeve around the box, or a CD, or art book, or anything extra that, in my mind, added to the game, then i would definitely need to have it to consider it complete. for cardboard boxes, i always like to have the original supports in decent shape, nothing's worse than a box getting crushed from the slightest pressure because it didn't have those supports.

i'm also rarely interested in trying to piece together the separate parts, i would much rather buy it all at once. sometimes it can be nearly impossible to find a box or manual only listing on ebay or anywhere, but there can be many complete listings. i've passed on quite a few games that were otherwise decent deals because of that.
I've kind of been using the TCIB label for a few years myself. I made the T stand for "True" or "Truly" because I know people use definitions like Crabby's, where CIB stands for the pieces and not the completeness.
When I see CIB I still think of the definition that Crabby posted. To me, "complete" is just that, everything that originally came with it. I don't really use any other abbreviation for that, just complete.
@techwizard: Most of my friends, when I was a kid, who owned NES consoles didn't really have any of the game boxes out, so I really don't know if every NES release their parents bought new came with a styrofoam insert to keep the box in better shape.  That said, I would assume that would be the case, since something like that would help the boxes keep from getting crushed during the shrink wrap phase.  It's interesting to think about how many parents and/or kids just threw that stuff out, as if it was completely disposable.  If we only knew then what we know now Smiley

@SirPsycho: That makes good sense, as "true" or "truly" in a similar fashion.  I think in this context, the terms are interchangeable, and either way, a good way to distinguish between CIB and something fully complete.

@Duke.Togo: I suspect that definition is more widespread than I probably realize.  As convenient as it would be for the gaming community at large to come up with something that's entirely universal, everyone has their own way of categorizing things, and I understand that there will always be differences in opinion in matters of hardcore collecting.  That's okay with me, so long as I know how I define things, and can pick up on the way others do as well Cheesy
With new games, would you still use CIB even though the Instructions are on the disc? do we just uses complete? what is odd, for PS4 games that never had an instructions, the GamevalueNow site, the price increases if you add the manual checkmark to the game.
@douglie007: Interesting question, and one I'm not sure I have an answer to.  I'm torn with Wii U games as well, because some of them have manuals (or inserts detailing the controls, which counts as a manual to me), and some don't.  It's hard to say.  I think you still consider it "complete" in that sense, just not CIB by crabby's definition.  That's the best compromise, I would think.

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