The Legend of Permastruct

Game instructions that were forever
February 21, 2022

Ah yes, the video store. A place that will forever be in the hearts and minds of so many. Be it a national chain like Blockbuster, or a local shop by local people, there was always such a charm about them.

If you were renting a game or a movie, it was a thrill.

Yeah man, it was very exciting!

Of course the video rental store is basically extinct in the 21st century, but it remains a special time for those of us that knew them. And for us who were kids, we typically were renting video games. From the NES era to PlayStation, Friday nights were made for picking up a game for the weekend. I would get a game, Josta and PB Max (damn you Mars for discontinuing them for no reason), and my days were set.

I myself started out with NES, so in my youth of game rentals, that was my ritual. My parents would get a movie, I'd get a game. Sometimes it was a game I was familiar with, or one that I never knew, but caught my eye because of the cover art. Coming up in that age of the original Nintendo, game box art was dazzling and maybe a little scary

...other times it was questionable.

But nothing was more questionable to me than the art of Permastruct. What is Permastruct, you ask? It was a label permanently grafted to the inside of the NES rental case. And by permanent, I mean it was permanent. You couldn't peel these things off with the jaws of life.

Many of you will recall how with game rentals back then, very rarely would you get the instruction manual with the game. Obviously the idea here was to provide game instructions without the book. On the inside of the case, the Permastruct label would give some details on the gameplay, controls, and the game's overall story. I can only presume these things were made in Canada, by Video Source Inc. because the label says so.

However efficient this thing might have tried to be, it was still a little weird.

We have an unnamed mascot throwing a punch and kick at the background, boldly proclaiming to you the gamer, "Here's your instructions!" Even though the talk box is curved upward, so it looks like the label itself is talking, I guess Permadude or whoever, is the one actually saying it.

There are only a few mentions of these things on the web, but they were on numerous rental cases back in the day. The first one I recall seeing was on Mega Man II, but also saw them on Skate or Die, Castlevania III, and RoboCop.

By the time we got into rentals for 16 bit consoles, Permastruct had disappeared. They were never seen on anything else.

Like many oddities from the NES area, such as the Speedboard and other random accessories, Permastruct labels are a strange little footnote in game history. But being strange is the reason we remember things like this.

Long live Permastruct.


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