Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Ben's Gaming Memories - Manuals

When I got home from work today, there was a package sitting on my step a package. For a week or so now, quite a few games have been slowly making their way to me, and based on the shape, I knew it had to be at least one of them. So, I picked it up, opened it, and pulled out a brand new copy of the Square-Enix published game "Mind Jack." Now Mind Jack was a lesser known shooter released in 2011, which had a mixed response. Some people say that it is a great game, while others say its unique "mind control" systems don't make it any different from your generic 3rd person shooter. As for how I feel, I'm not sure yet; mainly because I haven't played it. Even so, there is one thing that really stood out to me, from the moment I held the game in my hand. It had weight to it. Why? Because it had a physical manual, one that is also fully in color and contains only English.

While a lot of gamers of today may not understand this, I'm sure a lot of you older gamers will. The manuals that came with video games used to be special, but in today's world they have mostly disappeared. Most games of today either come in an empty box with only a disc and health and safety information on the backside of the box art (visible through the clear case), some come with a single piece of paper which is normally useless, or they'll come with an "instruction book" which is a single page or two with all of the other pages being the very same thing but in other languages. This is just the standard in today's world, and it does make sense on why most companies go this route. If a game doesn't contain a digital manual on the disc or card (for example all Vita games have one), the information you need can be either found online, or is taught to you during the game's tutorial. Even so, to some people (such as my self), manuals are still special.

If you grew up in the 80s, or 90s, then chances are looking at a video game's manual was something you did regularly when you either got a game or rented one. The things used to be packed full of information, and they were usually filled with screen shots from the game. As you waited during that long car ride home, that book was all you had to keep yourself busy, and try to fight back the excitement. You could read about the game's story, learn more about its world, learn about its characters, find out about all of the cool things you could do in the game, and then look at the screen shots and imagine just how great it must be. Now sure, it wasn't always great, but at least the book gave you hope! Still to this day I remember riding home with my brand new copy of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. I was on my way back from vacation, we were still over an hour and a half away from home, and I just couldn't wait to finally get home and play it. I looked at that manual the entire time, just dreaming about my upcoming adventure. I didn't fully know what to expect, but from what I had played in stores, and from what I was reading, I knew it was going to be great. I have similar memories from Kirby's Dream Land 3, and Kirby 64 as well. While Dream Land 3 was a Christmas gift, Kirby 64 was a rental. Still it didn't matter, I just loved reading and learning more about these games, and often I would still go back to the manual even after I had completed the game. Of course this was long before I had internet, and before the internet was as we know it today; so it was all I had.

Still to this day, I love looking at game manuals. Sure I can just search online for something now days, but it just isn't the same. I like being able to hold it in my hand, and being able to read it on the long drive home just like in the good old days. Although, most of the time I'm the one driving... Ah well...