Packaging Has Pixel Power

April 03, 2018

young couple

The weeks keep ticking by, and we’re still so excited for Nintendo’s entry into Ernest’s territory. The legendary video game company is releasing a product called Labo, which is a DIY construction kit that lets you play games — get this — with cardboard! As we count down the days until its release, we’re taking a stroll down memory lane to see how video games of the past have treated our favorite packaging materials — for better or worse!


There’s no doubt you’ve heard of Mario, the plumber made of pixels. But did you know in one incarnation he’s made from paper? The aptly named Paper Mario series has the plumber explore the very thing our dreams are made of: a world made of packaging materials. Every colorful level of the game looks like a diorama constructed from paper and cardboard, and it couldn’t be more charming.

Photo: Nintendo

In the packaging world, paper is a versatile material that’s both lightweight and surprisingly sturdy. We’re happy to report that our mustachioed hero takes full advantage of these perks in his paper form: he can fold into a paper airplane, roll into a tube, and slip through thin cracks in the wall. We’re so proud to see video games realize the full potential of paper!


Nintendo’s history with packaging materials hasn’t always been so respectful. In early Donkey Kong games, the titular gorilla smashes wooden crates for fun. We know, it makes us sick to our stomachs, too. Stay away from Pallet Guy, you darn dirty ape!!

The plus side is that Donkey Kong finds animal friends contained in the crates. He can unbox friendly critters like a rhinoceros and an ostrich, which can then be ridden around. Sounds like they watched Ernest box up a Jeep and took the idea for a wild spin!


We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the best use of packaging materials in video games. The Metal Gear Solid franchise is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year; it’s a stealth-based game where hiding from enemies is key, and one of the best features is that you can sneak around inside a cardboard box.

Photo: Konami

Throughout the series, you encounter all sorts of crazy technology like giant robots, but the cardboard box is a series staple that can’t be beat. In one instance the protagonist says of the cardboard box, “When I put it on, I suddenly got this feeling of inner peace. Like I’d found the key to true happiness.” Truer words were never spoken!

Packaging materials are versatile tools to help you get your product safely into the hands of your consumers. Like we’ve seen in video games, there’s a ton of fun to be had with them, too. Here at Ernest we work hard and play hard, and we’re glad that gamers get to see the fun side of our world. Head over to our Cardboard Chaos series to see how we cut loose with packaging materials!