Dear Video Game Manuals, I’m Just Writing To Say I Miss You

Video game manuals. If you’re over the age of 19 you know what they are and what they used to be like. For those younglings who are reading this who have yet to have had their balls drop, video game manuals consisted of more than “THIS BUTTON SHOOTS AND THIS BUTTON JUMPS!” and the repetitive warnings of “Hey just to let you know, you could have a seizure playing this game.”

But Umar, you are fucking retarded! There are still video game manuals!

They were much more than 3-4 pages of the need to know basics back when. Any older generation of gamers can remember buying the latest games and rushing desperately to open the case the moment they got out of the store and into the car. Frantic teeth would gnash and gnaw against the protective plastics and your serrated keys would slice through the protective sealing stickers. A slight euphoric rush would tickle its way down the back of your neck as you finally ended your odyssey to open the packaging to find your game tightly secured in paper inserts.

Sorry to interrupt you, Umar, but who gives a fuck about seeing a game you can’t play till you get home.

Oh, reader, I’ll never understand why you’ve become so rude and adamant towards me. If you’d just give me the time of day to explain myself maybe you’ll learn to shut the fuck up while I tell my scenarios.

Opening the video game box was like opening a large treasure chest in Zelda. You’d hear that all too familiar tune of accomplishment as you pulled out that pamphlet of guidance. The video game manual was like a Nicorette patch to keep you from relapsing until you got home to play the game.

I remember so many of my older game manuals being crumbled up by the sheer force of my grasp as I held onto it with an unparalleled vice grip. I’m sure many of you have had the same issues with older game manuals.

Inside of these little booklets were more than the aforementioned basic necessities to playing the game. They had a section specifically set for the backdrop of the story. A whole section designated to the lore. An entire section to get you pumped the fuck up! I remember foaming from my mouth when I read the Everquest: Ruins of Kunark game manual. All I could think was “Hell yeah, I’m going to totally own this ruined Roman-era lizard continent!” as I finished reading the manual during my “Thirty Minutes of Designated Reading” in school.

Did you say thirty minutes? It took you thirty minutes to read a game manual? Man, Umar! YOU SUCK!!!!1!! HAHAHA

Back in those days reader, game manuals were thick. Ask your make believe friends for the Kunark game manual and you’ll see all it had to offer for those thirty minutes.

Aside from the story and the basic control scheme of the game they also had mini biographies for each character in the game. I can recall reading any of the Final Fantasy manuals and scanning through the character bio section and wanting to know more about the companions I’m about to embark on this epic journey with.

The game manuals riled you up and got you excited to enter that game world even more. Even now, there are still people who read online about upcoming games and get excited about the things they could possibly do without even getting into the virtual setting.

It seems as though publishers have gotten lazy with their game manuals and downsized them greatly and I can see why. Games have much more depth to them now and people can get their story yearning fill while playing. Not to mention that a lot of games are turning to digital distribution. I, for one, am at fault for using this method of obtaining games, as I just don’t want so much physical media lying around. I already have boxes upon boxes of comics I have nowhere to put; I doubt I would be able to keep my video game collection downsized.

I doubt that the former glory and excitement presented by video game manuals will ever make a comeback in this era of instant gratification but it is always nice to muse about nostalgic times. Enjoy your shitty 4 page manuals, you seizure plagued, new age assholes.

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Umar Khan

Umar is a true gamer and computer wizard. During his time at Alienware, he connected with Obsolete Gamer CEO, Ignacio and COO, J.A. Laraque and created one of the original writing teams that would go on to create Obsolete Gamer. Always willing to speak his mind even when others hate him for it, Umar always entertains as well as informs.

3 thoughts on “Dear Video Game Manuals, I’m Just Writing To Say I Miss You

  • March 21, 2011 at 9:15 PM
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    The manual for Homeland. That thing was a freaking novel!! Or how about Starcraft I I’ve still got that sitting on my shelf, and I still re-read it from time to time.

  • March 22, 2011 at 12:56 PM
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    My favorite game manuals were usually from Microprose games: Knights of the Sky, Gunship, Civilization 1 and 2, and Master of Orion 1 and 2. They sure don’t make them like that anymore.

  • April 7, 2011 at 7:00 AM
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    How about the manual for Fallout 1 and 2 for PC? Or for Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dales? Those were actually spiral wirebound journals! And the ambiance and “pull you into the setting” quality of the Fallout ones inparticular was just amazing. I remember the plethora of “extra” paper goods that came withe teh Crusader games (:No Remorse and :No Regret, if memory serves), a four page “News Sheet” that was set in game… They really, really don’t make them like they used to. There are a few of more recent times that at least make an attempt – I honestly have to give props to the Halo games for having some “fluff-y” bits in their manual, even having a letter in one in the alien’s language that you can decode (if, like me, you are geek enough to waste time doing so). Ah, the halcyon days of youth.

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