Greatest Game Manual of All Time?

The thread on the BF: Vietnam manual got me thinking, which game had the best manual ever? Some key points to focus on:

Content: How in-depth was the manual? Did it describe the gameplay in detail?

Accuracy: Was the manual truthful? Did it properly reflect the game?

Printing: How was it bound? Was the text readable? Did they use special paper for extra flavor?

Art: Was the artwork striking? In color?

Humor or Other Outstanding Qualities: Was there something unique about the manual that made it stand out amongst others?

Personally, I found the original NES Zelda to have a great manual. Lots of color, informative, and pretty lengthy for a manual when it was released back in the day.

For PCs, I gotta say that everything I know about helicopters (which isn’t a heck of a lot, but still), I learned from Jane’s AH-64D Longbow manual. That thing was thick! So thick, it was spiral bound. I can’t say it was the best, but it does stand out in my mind as being high quality. Blizzard games also tend to have great manuals. They pack a lot of game lore in those things.

What do you all think?

Falcon 4.0 Binder version. I read that thing like six times.

Fallout 1.

Agreeance. I remember deluding myself that just maybe I could fly the actual thing in a pinch after reading that tome. I cannot use the word book because it was a tome. It was actually interesting reading too because it just had a great deal of stuff in it about aerodynamics, aerial combat, etc. instead of just the “here is what the keys do”. I’m not certain I’d want to read a manual that big again for a game, but it does stand out in my mind.

Civ 2

Agreed. Big, detailed, and a pleasure to read. I love that manual.

A third vote for Falcon 4.0. The manual didn’t come in the game. The game came in the manual. :)


M1 Tank Platoon. You would have a decent grasp of 80s-era armored warfare once you were done digesting it.

The MicroProse games of the 1980s-early 90s: Civ 2, M1 Tank Platoon, the Stealth Fighter games, Gunship, the whole lot of 'em basically. Great manuals.

Hmm I dont think I could choose just one.

I loved the old Microprose manuals though. Darklands and Pirates! come to mind.

More recently I would have to say BG2, even though that isnt that recent, it was comprehensive and spiral bound.

Flight sims are not really my thing so I missed out on the Falcon 4.0 offering.


I always loved the 80’s Infocom manuals…they complemented the generally neato packaging, and were both witty and informative.

I think the last really solid manual I saw was Homeworld.

I also have to throw in that Microprose had excellent manuals. F-19, Pirates, M1 Tank Platoon, 1942: PAW, F-14 Fleet Defender, and so on. The manuals were well written, informative, and actually enjoyable to read. I miss manuals like that…and yes Lock-On, I’m looking at you and your pamphlet…

Red Baron II.
All the game mechanics, controls, concepts, etc., + a good overview of WWI history, stuff about WW1 flight concepts and tactics, anecdotes from real WWI flyers, full color pictures of aircraft, and… more.

another vote for Fallout 1

Falcon 4.0 and Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe. The Pilot Guide and Compendium that came with Starsiege were also top-notch.


This got me thinking. I think the last “golden age” of flight sims, i.e. 1994-1999/2000ish, had some of the best manuals around. Almost all of the Jane’s sims had wonderful manuals, as well as other sims such as Tornado, EF2000, F/A-18 Korea, iF-22, iF-18, Flying Corps, Red Baron II, Falcon 4.0, Hind, Total Air War, and so on, all had fantastic manuals, probably some of the best of their time. They were all large, filled with useful information, enjoyable to read, and made their sims more fun. I sure do miss manuals like that…

Alpha Centauri had a great manual.