Nintendo is delivering nostalgia overload with the NES Classic Edition launch, posting classic scans of the original manuals for your retro reading pleasure. They also have the bare-bones utilitarian electronic versions, but let’s get real here. This is a console with only two primary buttons, it’s more important to see the sweet art than to know “Tap A repeatedly” makes you rise in Balloon Fight.
This was a completely different era in video games. Graphics were simple and programmers couldn’t fit all of the necessary information on the screen. The manual filled in the gaps by explaining systems, enemies, maps, or even the ultimate goal of the player. Modern gaming has come a long way an gamers now expect to have everything on screen (without being cluttered) and are quick to blame the developer if they get lost.
Zelda, Metroid, and Final Fantasy were definitely three games you could get lost in. If you took the wrong first turn in Zelda you could miss the sword and be screwed! RPGs demanded that the player remember every task assigned to them. Imagine if you had to remember every side-quest in The Witcher? Back then, if you forgot which town to hit next in an RPG, you could spend hours wandering the game world, battling random enemies until you stumbled upon the right place.
I’ve read the manuals to my favorite games multiple times. The most exciting was always on the ride home from the store. I would be so eager to play and that manual was the closest I could get. Also, if I studied up first, I could hit the ground running when I was home.
The worst time was when my birthday happened to fall on Mother’s Day. We bought Wrestlemania for the Genesis, but before I could go home to play, we had to eat at some kind of Mother’s Luncheon. My childhood memory could be blowing this out of proportion but I seem to remember hundreds of mothers having the time of their lives while I sat in a dusty parking lot reading that manual (and wishing I was an orphan………………..kidding).
So if you’re stuck waiting for Nintendo to send out more NES Classic Editions, perhaps you can pass the time with these manuals, like I did, on that horrible horrible Mother’s Day.