Video Game Manuals and Strategy Guides


Ah, I remember the days of photocopying manuals. Not that it, ahem, had anything to do with piracy, ahem.

(Honestly, I feel guilty for those days and have pumped thousands of dollars into the game industry since then!)


I like how the Darklands manual includes the concept art that they had to scale down to low resolution 256-color images.

The No Greater Glory manual also has a really great history section where it goes into the economic and political big picture of the Civil War.


Yeah I hear you. It was pretty easy to copy those code wheels also if you wanted to. I made backups just in case.

I still have every game manual for every game I ever bought in a couple bookcases downstairs. I have been meaning to lay them all out on the pool table one day and take pictures, but haven’t spent the time yet.

Here is a quick pic I just took of some older guides my wife and I have purchased over the years.




LOL yeah, I love those hard cover strategy guides. I’ve been collecting one or two a year for awhile now, always for big RPG’s and Strategy titles I’m just over the moon excited about. I’ll order the hardcover Zelda:BotW guide here in the next days, in fact.

Missing in Action - my beloved Final Fantasy XII guide that was lost during a bad flooding when we first moved into the house. I can replace it, I see it’s not even too expensive on Amazon in fact, but I’m holding out to see if the new Zodiac Edition will produce a new, more up to date guide.


Homeworld manual.

Worst: original FF9 with pay-extra links to online (now defunct) Square Enix hints


If you played Bloodborne, you need that guide.

The only strategy guide I wish I had is the Future Press Bayonetta guide written by Saurian Dash. It was a limited print in the UK so now it’s $300 at Amazon.


Zeus: Master of Olympus had a great manual - the whimsical, “break the fourth wall” tone was amazing.

SHENZHEN I/O has a very interesting approach to its manual too - it resembles engineering documentation, but also adds things like letters and notes in a way that complements the game and helps with immersion. It’s a really cool idea (mostly) well implemented.


Zachtronics did that in their previous game TIS-1000 as well, but I don’t recall if they relied on it before that.


I didn’t think of that one, but I might just do that. Looking at it, it does seem like one I want for my collection. Plus, I can play Bloodbourne and I completely forgot that - I own it digitally so I can play it on my PS4 Pro, though I assume I’ll have to start over again. Oh well! :)


Ultima manuals (and other extras like the cloth maps and trinkets) are amazing. Even when the games fell a bit short, like U8 and U9, the manuals never failed to deliver. My favorite is U4’s, particularly the amazing spellbook. Sadly, the original art for that is lost but much of the original art for many of the other Ultimas is accounted for.


I’ve started to collect hardcover strategy guides as well over the past couple of years. Unfortunately, I moved into a house and haven’t bought bookcases yet (a librarian always has tons of books), so they’re in large piles on my floor currently.

Do you collect guides to games that you don’t own?


No, and only the games I’m really excited for as well. I’m kind of selective. :)


More selective than I am then! I mean, they’re all games I’m interested in, I just haven’t bought the games yet (like Fallout 4).

I’m sad that I haven’t been able to get my hands on a copy of the DA:I guide though.


Have you seen the original art for the U3 spellbook (and many other things, like U1, 4, 7:SI maps, U5 cover sketches, Martian Dreams manual art, Quest for Clues art, U8 manual art, etc.) at


Yeah, I love the Ultima stuff. I have 'em all, if anyone is curious and wants to see anything, in addition to most RPGs (and a lot of other stuff) from the 80s through to recent years.

Strategy guides used to be terrible, so I liked making my own and posting them at GameSpot, etc. My Morrowind and Baldur’s Gate guides were a lot better than the official guides (every NPC location, etc.). Old guides were also often riddled with errors, because they were made by people using non-final builds and the developer had little, if any, contribution to the guides.

But these days most strategy guides are pretty solid - the guides for the Souls games are all fantastic and look great on the shelf, even next to old AD&D books. Bethesda’s guides have been very good since Morrowind too. I like picking up most open world guides for games that I play, both to see anything I missed after playthrough, and other paths, etc.

Some guides turn out to offer little that you wouldn’t discover on your own easily (like the South Park game, largely because the game itself was so light), and online resources are amazing these days and offer more than any paper guide does, but I still love hardcover guides to meatier games. I picked up the Skyrim complete guide because it was so massive, even though I already had the collectors edition that was released with the game initially.


LOL I did the exact same thing.

I just ordered this gorgeous monster.

The first guide I bought, and I don’t recall why I bought it but it blew my mind with how many behind the scenes information and math being used, was the aforementioned Master of Magic guide. I’ve often been tempted to re-purchase that (I see it available used for pretty cheap) just to put it with the others. God, that was such a great read. Like reading a good RPG pen and paper guide.


So tempting to pick up the Breath of the Wild one, nice pickup!

Still have the Railroad Tycoon, SimCity, Master of Magic, etc. guides. Good stuff!


Have only picked up a few strategy guides that I can recall. I’m pretty sure I had the one for Civ I, I had the one for Daggerfall and Oblivion, Moo 2, and this one:

Really enjoyed reading it and when I was done I passed it on to my Dad who still has it.


Aces of the Pacific and Aces over Europe both had nice manuals as I recall and were really like history books.