20 lessons from old game manuals

What product docs from the past can teach us about games, life, and hyperbole

Most of today's manuals are short and boring and tell you nothing.They're flimsy, pathetic leaflets, and their only purpose is to make game boxes feel a little heavier, becausethey just feel weird otherwise. But look... just look at this beautiful specimen of product documentation:


Above: A special message from Captain Commando, just for us? Hesigned itandeverythingHEEEEE!

Back in the day, we didn't getan on-screen tutorial - we could play throughan entire game without knowing about a key feature because we failed to read the entire 52-page manual. And we liked it that way!

We can all learn a lot about games, and ourselves, by taking a moment to flip through some of the glorious manuals of yesteryear. Just look at what we learned from a small selection (mostly found onreplacementdocs, a very snazzy website)...


Lesson 1: Everything you've ever wanted to know about Zelda

Nothing was assumed about the player. Take a look at some snippets from several Zelda manuals, and you’ll discover the answers to questions that may have been nagging you for years. For example, how do you select a bottle? Do you have to alignyour cursor with anything?


Above: Yes! Do it like this!

Oh wow, that’s cool, so is Ganon nice?


Above: NO, HE’S REAL MEAN!

Wow, I never knew. But, say I press the 'B' button, what then?


Above: WE'VE GOT A WHOLE PAGE FOR THAT!

Great! But can I use magic? I’d really like to use mag-LOOK OVER TO YOUR RIGHT AND YOU’LL SEE SOME CRAZY MAGIC, MAN! THIS 'AINT NO DAVID COPPERFIELD SHIT, THIS IS FINGER WIGGLING SPELL CASTIN’ MAGIC WITH THE FUNKITUDE EIGHT HUNDRED CLONES OF EARTH, WIND,& FIRE PLAYING SIMULTANEOUSLY!

See? Everything. And game manuals didn’t just teach us about games, they taught us valuable life lessons. Keep scrollingfor more wisdom from these ancient tomes.


Lesson 2: Lava hurts you

Also, when someone writes "period" after something, they really mean it.


Lesson 3: If you try to make a copy of GoldenEye, Pierce Brosnan will f***ing shoot you in the face

For England!


Lesson 4: Rick is deluding himself, and so are you

Like Rick, your whole family probably hates you, and will run away from home just so they don't have to look at you.


Lesson 5: 120%!!!

Nobody played this game!!!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Associate Editor, Digital at PC Gamer

Topics

We recommend