A complete collection of 4K PlayStation 2 manual scans is now available online, after one fan spent 22 years and $40,000 building the archive.
You can peruse the collection for yourself on Archive.org. Every single US PS2 manual is accounted for, from 007 - Agent Under Fire to Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner. The scans all look gorgeous. They're dramatically better than many of the other scans on the internet, and good luck finding scans of, say, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader: Make the Grade anywhere else on the internet.
This is all the work of one person who goes by the name Kirkland. He tells Kotaku that he's been collecting PS2 games - and their manuals - since the console launched 22 years ago, spending over $40,000 in the process. "I grabbed new releases when they got down to $20 for about the first 800 releases, then I started picking up used sports games in good condition, then it was hunting down the odd variants (which is never-ending)."
Kirkland runs all his manuals through a document scanner, then processes them through a bunch of applications in order to get the pristine scans available in this collection. While I can go on about the quality of the scans, Kirkland describes himself as a "die hard perfectionist" and says the current collection is just "functional" preservation. "What is ‘good enough’? 2400 dpi at 48-bit color (over one gigabyte per page). At what point are we archiving ink instead of images? There is no easy answer."
Even with the caveats, Kirkland has devoted a lot of time to the endeavor, describing "entire summer vacations" spent scanning manuals. It's not just PS2 stuff, either - you can see his full set of US Super NES manuals on Archive.org, and he's working on other platforms, too.
When we talk about game preservation, it's often in terms of keeping playable versions of games accessible to fans, but that's just a small part of the work. Organizations like the Video Game History Foundation are dedicated to archiving materials that show how games were made, marketed, and distributed, but the goals are impossibly large. The efforts of individual fans like Kirkland is the only real way this sort of work is really getting done.
It's time to dig back into the archives for the best PS2 games of all time.