RTFM: Remembering the Forgotten Manuals


New member
Oct 9, 2008
I agree. Nothing beats a professionally crafted manual to put that extra touch on the excitement and anticipation of playing a game. The other great benefit of the manual is that it serves as an encyclopedia of offline information about the game that you can browse at your leisure, rather than having to be constantly plugged into the game. Sure, today you can just google the information on the Internet, but the Internet is a very poor substitute for the craftsmanship that goes into a well-constructed manual (also, the information in the manual is more trustworthy than the Internet).

As I was reading this, I did have the fantasy idea of an Android/iOS portal app where developers could upload game manuals (crafted to the standards and completeness resembling those of the past glory days) that gamers could read on their mobile devices. Maybe it's not quite the same as the printed manual, but it can have the potential of getting close without incurring the printing and reproduction costs of the printed manual. Plus, you won't lose it (unless you lose your mobile device, but, with that, you'll have bigger concerns than a lost game manual).


New member
Apr 11, 2011
Moontouched-Moogle said:
Al-Bundy-da-G said:
Go buy Fallout 3 right right now. It has the greatest game manual to have ever existed. It's designed so that it looks like it came straight out of the game world. I even have an extra copy of in stored away.

Wow I really shouldn't be this excited about a game manual...
Really? I just bought a new copy of Fallout 3: GOTY on PS3 from Gamestop a few weeks ago, and whilst the cover of the "manual" fits the game's visual aesthetic, the whole manual itself is just a tri-folded sheet with the EULA and Warranty Information on it, plus a small bit telling you how to start a game with your PS3. They have a link on the bottom of one part where you can get the full manual online. Either you are sorely mistaken, or they cheaped out on the manuals for the GOTY version.
They cheaped out like hell.



Echappe, retire, sous sus PANIC!
Apr 24, 2008
Ah, I miss those wonderful old manuals...and I don't care how rose-tinted that sounds, manuals used to have, in general, a LOT more work put into them. That's just a fact. whether or not that bothers anyone, that's another story.

Personally, I loved the old manuals as the author of this article describes them. I'd read them before I started the game to get into the mood, and then I'd re-read them long after I finished the game to remind myself of how much fun I'd had.

Not too long ago, I bought an old copy of a long-extinct Indiana Jones game for PS2 from TradeMe. When I opened it up, though it might have been little crumpled and dog-eared, the manual brought unashamed joy to my wizened old heart - it was designed to look like Indy's journal, with clippings and sketches and pictures of artifacts, and backstory galore.

So, yes, I wish there were more great paper manulas out there today. Now leave me alone - I need to put these spectacles back on and take my Pokemon Red gameboy manual out to the rocking chair on the porch for a nostalgia trip... ;-P


New member
Jun 6, 2011
Never mind manuals, the original Elite came with a bloody novella. Mind you, given that it was a space combat and trading simulator on an 8-bit system with only 32KB of RAM, there was no way in hell they could fit backstory and game universe context into the game itself.


New member
Mar 10, 2011
I think a point relevant to this discussion is the targeted audience of video games today vs. back then. In 1991, it was possible that any game on the market was the very first game someone ever played. Thus, it made sense to have a detailed manual explaining controls, how to avoid obstacles, some background on the characters, etc.

Today, this is a much more rare possibility. Our world is so well inundated with video games and their dominant concepts that it has become standard cultural knowledge. You're not complaining that a pair of scissors doesn't have an extensive user manual because everyone already knows how to use scissors. In the same way, everyone who buys games these days knows how to use basic controls and employ basic concepts (jump over pointy things).

As for background information, hell, learning that is sometimes the only interesting part of the game. Games today are allowed to be much more immersive and are able to tell much more complete stories. I don't need to read about the background of today's game characters because they are presented to me vividly. I'm shown their background through their actions and choices, not merely told in a lengthy exposition. This is a far superior story telling method as any creative writing professor will tell you.

Manuals are a waste of paper. It won't be long before CDs are considered a waste of plastic. Software is moving into the cloud. In ten years, mark my words, the vast majority of software purchases (PC and Console) will be through digital download.


New member
Jul 10, 2010
Looks at his latest addition.
Diablo 3, small booklet "quickstart guide" with some background information about Sanctuary and all the classes you can play with some nice artwork. Not bad.
*Looks at his game cabinet

Crusader No Remorse
-A 23 page "Anti Terrorist Site Security" Manual for the folks that work for the ingame company. With notes made by the resistance/Terrorists about weakpoints and their own profiles. "No armed and dangerous? I need to go hit the firing range"
-Installation guide, 16 pages (DOS Era, what do you expect)
-16 pages "Resistance Confidential" a "Welcome to the resistance" book with whats expected of you and ins and outs about the weapons.
-a thick 2 sided A2 ingame newspaper with ingame adds
oh, and the game :p

And no, this was not a collectors edition!
Fallout 2
-78 pages of manual
-28 pages with stats of all the opponents

The rest is still sealed so no, i'm nog gonna open them! :p

But yeh, I do miss the big boxes and the manuals/extra's included
Got Mechwarrior 4 lying around somewhere, they also had a nice manual with specs of all the mechs and notes in the sideline made by characters of the game.

*sigh.. I feel old :p


New member
Apr 5, 2010
Manuals made sense when you were lucky to get a text screen explaining the plot before throwing you right into the action. What do you need them for now? Unless it's a cheap indie title you get lengthy tutorial sections and the games are given enough context to not require any further explanation from external sources.
I did enjoy reading manuals before playing newly purchased games as a kid but I really don't see the point of their existence anymore.

Now, cardboard boxes, on the other hand.. Those I miss. I don't care if they get damaged more easily, they simply look better on the shelf than plain DVD cases.