It appears that GameTopius is aiming to run a series of articles about one of my favorite topics, video game instruction manuals!

Now, I realize that sounds incredibly dull, and if you’ve started gaming in the past ten or so years, give or take, then one can hardly blame you. But once upon a time, video game manuals were often lively and creative. Back when pixel art or polygons could only show a degree of what a character would look like, manuals were where you would find tons of illustrations, and often other details about characters or settings. Sometimes, that was the only place you could even find out the object of the game!

Nintendo and Capcom’s had a tendency to be colorful, while Konami would be creative with stories, names, and descriptions that differed completely from the Japanese versions, but were usually played for laughs. The recent Contra 4 aimed for the best of both worlds, making the details and general voice of the manual cheesy, while keeping the information true to its source.

In Japan, some manuals still have that creative spark. Look up the Japanese manual for No More Heroes, it’s far more interesting than Ubisoft’s vanilla English version.

In this first part of the series, GameTopious looks at the manuals for Dr. Mario for the Game Boy, Super Mario 64 for the Nintendo 64, and Super Mario Galaxy for the Wii.

My favorite of the three? Super Mario 64. I loved seeing the rendered Mario performing all these actions, and Bowser looked awesome, too. Upon its release, I was disappointed that the game itself didn’t reflect the models in the instruction booklet more closely; Nintendo had been boasting CG models like those used to make Donkey Kong Country and Killer Instinct as the future of gaming, and what the Nintendo 64 was all about. Sadly, it would take another five or so years, until the GameCube was released, for that to come close to realization.

Still, I say, bring on a Super Mario 64 DS remake (since it improves on the original) with Super Mario Galaxy-calibur graphics, and watch me buy it all over again.

In the meantime, since instruction books are almost obsolete due to in-game tutorials and such anyway, I say start including mini art books with details about stuff in the game instead. Bring back what made the old books so great, while getting rid of what isn’t even needed in them today.

–LBD “Nytetrayn”

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  • Uncle Soaky

    I used to love reading instruction manuals back in the nes days. Remember the booklets for the legend of zelda and final fantasy? They were more like beautifully illustrated novels than something that tells you what button kills the badguy (hint: it’s A) I would pay good money to see a huge collection of that stuff.

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