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Remembering a bygone era where maps and manuals came with games

Shadowstar39

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Apr 25, 2018
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**Nostalgia Warning**

Does anyone miss that time in gaming where you would get your game in a box and it would have so much goodies, eldritch tomes and maps, maybe even a unique box or case?

This wasn't just computer games either. Early console games had goodies, Zelda, Simons quest Dragon Warrior, FF1 all had maps and goodies.
Then there were unique packaging. All this stuff added to the allure of many games. This is missing today in the digital age. Nothing is mysterious anymore. Back then practically every pc game had a ton of stuff. And console games had well put together manuals up to the ps2. Many explained plot and had illustrations. All this started to go away with steam, ps360 generation. Now it's completely dead in the digital era. Now we have no more expansion paks of substance either, but micro transactions, pay2win, loot boxes and in game real money auction houses and other nefarious schemes. I really miss a lot of this.

Do any of you miss it?

Share some of your favorite weird box designs, maps or goodies that came in games that you just don't find anymore.
Here are a few that i remember fondly:



Baldurs Gate 1 - 5 discs folder , cloth map, manual with Ad&D stats and figures, quick setup guide,



Some might and magic/Homm love:



Gold box AD&D, complete with translation wheel (piracy wheel ) and journal to get by the low ram and disk space of the time:



The Witcher 1 (i imported my enhanced edition copy from the UK as the US version had censored sex cards at the time):


Sim Earth and it's text book sized manual:


Zelda and Simons Quest maps:



 

VN1X

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While cool/neat whatever I definitely don't mind the more universal and standarized formfactors of gameboxes of today (for standard versions of games that is). Ultimately it's just plastic and just clutters up yer living space. Even when games come in a steelbook I'd rather just get the super normal standard peasant edition so it doesn't look out of place in my collection lol.
 
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Shadowstar39

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While cool/neat whatever I definitely don't mind the more universal and standarized formfactors of gameboxes of today (for standard versions of games that is). Ultimately it's just plastic and just clutters up yer living space. Even when games come in a steelbook I'd rather just get the super normal standard peasant edition so it doesn't look out of place in my collection lol.
I get that, it just was something of its time and looking back on it just brings back memories of getting a game in the store and not knowing what is inside the box. The extras really helped. As an rpg, strategy, single player gamer this was my thing. I can see for people who play mostly multiplayer games it wouldn't matter.

As for steelbook, id rather have that, but i can see your point of view.
 

Platinumstorm

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Boxes served an incredibly important part of advertising back in the 90s and 2000s that they just don't today. Anyone playing games can get information online.
At times I miss them, but the games that I purchased from the late 90s through the mid 2000s take up about 15 times more space in my home than the games I've purchased since then.

Today's modern boxes are pointless, and downright ugly with the blue cases impeding the artwork, and making the artwork itself miniscule.

I would like to purchase the Final Fantasy XIV Endwalker Collector's Edition, but it's essentially unobtainable. I was mountian biking in Wyoming the day it launched and instantly sold out.

 

nowhat

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Ultima 5 was the game for me as a kid, I was completely addicted to it. I still have the cloth map of Britannia that came with it. No idea where the Book of Lore or the coin (which was actually just painted plastic) ended up though.

 
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Krappadizzle

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**Nostalgia Warning**

Does anyone miss that time in gaming where you would get your game in a box and it would have so much goodies, eldritch tomes and maps, maybe even a unique box or case?


Yeah it kinda sucks, I treasured the time when I'd rent a game and read the manual on the ride home or getting a new game and reading the manual while taking a poop. We used to get so many cool little goodies. The upside is, that really, you can kinda buy just about anything you want game related now-a-days so if you have an idea of what you'd like you can have it printed/framed/made one way or the other. But yes, I do miss them just being a part of the package.

I wax nostalgic all the time for all the old shit to be honest. If I'm ever in a thrift store or hobby shop and I'd see a lot of old videogame magazines I'll snap them up as soon as I can, it's so fun to go back and read about the "hot, new Ultra 64" and just contextualize how far we've come since.
 
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Meesh

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It's cool, always has been, always will be. But only cool to those of us who remember that bygone era.

For me I couldn't wait to unbox FF1 or say Zelda and going over all the wonderful artwork and maps, it really added to the imagination and made your purchase feel like a great investment as Nintendo and Square seemed to put a lot of effort into your enjoyment, and that was even before putting the cartridge in! It felt complete.

That's why to this day I'll buy certain strategy guides, not because I'm actively using them to complete the game but because they take the place of those awesome manuals we don't see anymore. Nostalgia.

These days, while the games are still amazing, there's very little excitement in opening the package. There's a disc, or Switch cart... maybe a safety manual... and nothing. Feels cheap to me. Just pump out that content and dump at Walmart, Best buy or whatever.

God bless art books and guides though for all that artwork and lore. I don't have many but I keep buying Zelda guides and art books, Monster Hunter, bought the Bayonetta one, whatever I'm playing that I love I'll order something as a companion. They look good on my gaming bookshelf or coffee table and are fun to go through with my fiancee when I'm giving her some background on a game I've got her addicted to lol.
 

Krappadizzle

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It's cool, always has been, always will be. But only cool to those of us who remember that bygone era.

For me I couldn't wait to unbox FF1 or say Zelda and going over all the wonderful artwork and maps, it really added to the imagination and made your purchase feel like a great investment as Nintendo and Square seemed to put a lot of effort into your enjoyment, and that was even before putting the cartridge in! It felt complete.

That's why to this day I'll buy certain strategy guides, not because I'm actively using them to complete the game but because they take the place of those awesome manuals we don't see anymore. Nostalgia.

These days, while the games are still amazing, there's very little excitement in opening the package. There's a disc, or Switch cart... maybe a safety manual... and nothing. Feels cheap to me. Just pump out that content and dump at Walmart, Best buy or whatever.

God bless art books and guides though for all that artwork and lore. I don't have many but I keep buying Zelda guides and art books, Monster Hunter, bought the Bayonetta one, whatever I'm playing that I love I'll order something as a companion. They look good on my gaming bookshelf or coffee table and are fun to go through with my fiancee when I'm giving her some background on a game I've got her addicted to lol.
I remember literally drawing maps for LoZ for the NES with graph paper, bombing all the walls looking for secrets and shit. Really fond memories of doing that with my Grandma as a kid.
-----------------------

I've bought all the Hyrule Compendiums as well. Love digging through them as they are so full of art and design notes.
 
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Unk Adams

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Packaging, presentation, etc. are all considered things of the past. The future of media is all subscription services where you don't own anything and people quickly consume a game, movie, song, etc. and then a few days later move on to the next thing. Most people look at media as disposable now and this is just a side effect of that how physical modern games are presented - boring cover art, no full color manuals with interesting information and pictures that we used to get, flimsy cases that break in the mail, etc. They're just preparing us for when physical games are gone completely and most people don't really seem to care. If you actually want this stuff you have to pay way too much money for a oversized, gaudy limited collector's edition that sells out immediately now.
 

Davevil

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Reading the manual before playing the game was a tradition for me, for some reason I wanted to prolong the anticipation before playing, and would make sure I read the entire manual first.
Me too...but it start from the retro of the package on way to home from store.
What nostalgia
 
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Alx

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I liked manuals when they contained useful gameplay information, like game controls, hints and move lists for fighting games. That was more convenient than ingame tutorials we have now.
I never really cared about maps, lore etc.
I also remember in older games those manuals were used as DRM, where the game would ask for the symbol appearing on page xyz, or something like that. That was annoying
 
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Unknown?

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Packaging, presentation, etc. are all considered things of the past. The future of media is all subscription services where you don't own anything and people quickly consume a game, movie, song, etc. and then a few days later move on to the next thing. Most people look at media as disposable now and this is just a side effect of that how physical modern games are presented - boring cover art, no full color manuals with interesting information and pictures that we used to get, flimsy cases that break in the mail, etc. They're just preparing us for when physical games are gone completely and most people don't really seem to care. If you actually want this stuff you have to pay way too much money for a oversized, gaudy limited collector's edition that sells out immediately now.
It's disgusting. If the future has no ownership entirely then I'm out for good.
 

emivita

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Just makes me think...


I miss sniffing manuals. Best smelling manual for me was Heavy Rain Limited Edition one for the PS3, it smelled like rain on an old newspaper and made me more immersed in the game.
 

AMSCD

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I for one miss it greatly.

I also miss the struggle to get a game to install properly and the sense of achievement when the game would boot successfully for the first time. Fond childhood memories. I consider myself fortunate to have been a kid during the 90. What a great era for gaming.
 

NeoIkaruGAF

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Wait, Simon’s Quest came with a fucking color map in the US? Fuck the European version I had. A map would’ve been invaluable in making sense of the game’s layout.

The stuff that came with the original Zelda was so, so amazing. I almost consumed that manual and map.

I also loved that Virtual Console games had an electronic manual. This is a feature sorely missing from all the Mini consoles released, and Nintendo’s online service too. It’s hard to figure out some old games without a manual (there’s a game on the Mega Drive Mini where I got stuck literally 5 minutes in. No clue what to do).
 

nowhat

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I miss sniffing manuals. Best smelling manual for me was Heavy Rain Limited Edition one for the PS3, it smelled like rain on an old newspaper and made me more immersed in the game.
Leather Goddesses of Phobos (is that like the best game title, or the best game title ever?) came with, among other things, a scratch and sniff card which also worked as a form of copy protection.
 
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Markio128

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I really miss the instruction booklets and maps. I actually believe the omission of the instruction manual has led to more tutorial levels being necessary in games, which are usually arse. I good instruction manual would give you a bit of a backstory and a solid understanding of the controls. Now devs feel it is necessary to handhold you through the initial section.
 
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JayK47

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Maps were very helpful for any open world game and I do miss getting them. I have learned to live without manuals and cool maps. Some games really do need a manual and the in-game tutorial or guide is shit. So many games I had to learn as I go and would figure stuff out well past the halfway point. Stuff that would be covered in a manual.
 
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Shadowstar39

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Ultima 5 was the game for me as a kid, I was completely addicted to it. I still have the cloth map of Britannia that came with it. No idea where the Book of Lore or the coin (which was actually just painted plastic) ended up though.

That's a cool map, and I know if i would of had that back in the day I would of seen it and since the names are in runes would of wanted to translate. There is a air of mystery to it. As a kid/teen in the 80s I would of loved it.

My first Ultima was Ultima Underworl, no cloth map with that, just a paper one. Great game though. I wanted to get Ultima 6 but my computer before that didn't have enough video ram before I had a 386 pc (not much you can do with a 8088 8mhz, 4 color 256k CGA display and 512k ram). I had to settle for games like Phantasie 1 & 3, times of lore and some others that had low ram / 256k support. Those earlier ultimas i could of ran but never seen them in the EB I used to get software from. Oldest they had was ultima 6.

 

Nico_D

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Just when I was playing Mafia Definitive Edition I was remembering how amazing it was to find the map inside the box. The city and it's surroundings felt huge back then.
 
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6502

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I remember Starglider PC came with a fab Novella (games often did) and it was used as anti piracy measure randomly asking "enter page 20 line 3 word 3" etc on startup.
 
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DelireMan7

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I loved reading manuals while game were installing on my PC.

I also regularly reading them when I couldn't play.

I am currently replaying some old games from my collection and it's a pleasure to read those manuals again.

I just finish Metal Gear solid and the manuals is filled with background and lore. And let's not speak about the famous 4th wall breaking with the CD box.
 
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Old Retro

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I LOVED the art that was in the manuals. I have dozens of drawings I did back in the early 90s of Mega Man robots...



I started playing Red Dead Redemption II recently and was surprised it comes with a map in the case. It's kinda worthless but a cool throwback:

 

Shadowstar39

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i remember i had the San Andreas map pinned on my wall.

i kinda miss when maps were still small enough to memorize. Game worlds are so big idk where i am half the time. Liberty City in GTA III....i knew every road like the back of my hand
Yeah those maps were great. I also liked that they had art on the back.

I had the vice city map on my wall years ago, but i didn't have the map part showing. If you flipped it around it had Some hot babe with 1980s Miami aesthetics.

I bought a shelving unit for $2 at a yard sale a few years back. To my surprise in the tubing that was the side supports there was something extra inside. It was a FF10 full on poster of all the characters. I was so stoked finding that hidden in a piece of furniture.
 
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nowhat

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That's a cool map, and I know if i would of had that back in the day I would of seen it and since the names are in runes would of wanted to translate. There is a air of mystery to it. As a kid/teen in the 80s I would of loved it.
Oh yeah, the use of runes in the game was a bit devious. Book of Lore contains the runes and their corresponding letters - nowadays you can just google them if you don't have it, but if you were playing a "backup" of the game back then, the options were either to buy a local games magazine that had a special issue for the game, try to figure out if anyone nearby had a photocopier (unlikely now, much more so then) or just copying them by hand, which was the common solution. Most of the texts in the game are with normal letters, but some very essential texts (and many roadsigns, which was neat) were written with runes. In part for the atmosphere I assume, but likely more so as a (weak) form of copy protection. But replaying the game constantly and especially as a kid, you memorize the runes very quickly, so Book of Lore becomes redundant in that regard.

Back then Ultima didn't have any kind of modern luxuries like a quest log or a journal. So if you learned something important, had to go somewhere and perform a particular task, basically anything - you either had to remember it (doesn't work) or write it down. I was quite amused when visiting my parents after having moved out like a decade before, discovering a bunch of notebooks that consisted of notes from multiple (attempted) playthroughs. The thing is, everything was written in runes, which I didn't remember doing. At the time it would have been just the same for me, so I guess it was just "cool". Sadly I don't remember the runes anymore by heart, at least all of them; it's not like I learned a new language, just a new set of letters.
 
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MadPanda

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I remember when my school pals went on a trip to Italy and bought Sacred (action rpg) which came with a cloth map and some other goodies. That was so cool, we were so addicted to that game even though we knew basically nothing about it. Blizzard's games came with some cool goodies too.

I wish I still got rpgs with cool maps inside the box but these days I'm happy if I find rpgs worth playing to begin with.
 
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AGeraltFellFromRoof

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They would be such a waste of paper, timber etc. Back in the day there were times you needed those to play a game properly, now you don't, and we have a planet to protect so I would be really mad if a game company still includes tons of papers with their physical game copies. Just don't. Just include a link to a PDF in somewhere on the web and that's it.
 
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Danjin44

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Because we are living in age internet which we can easily find anything and including detail map online.
 
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MvCSpiderman

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No, I just miss having colored manuals in most game boxes usually with bonuses, art, and extra detail. Even sports games had those.

We still have boxes with an empty space on the left side to insert a manual. They just won't do it.

Also good times when Amiga, PC, 3DO, PS1 game jewel cases had the box cover BE the front of the manual, and there was additional art inside the jewelcase behind the cd insert.
 
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DonkeyPunchJr

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No, I just miss having colored manuals in most game boxes usually with bonuses, art, and extra detail. Even sports games had those.

We still have boxes with an empty space on the left side to insert a manual. They just won't do it.

Also good times when Amiga, PC, 3DO, PS1 game jewel cases had the box cover BE the front of the manual, and there was additional art inside the jewelcase behind the cd insert.
It’s part of the reason I’ve gone all digital TBH. Nowadays all you get is a flimsy cost-optimized case with nothing in it but the game disc/cartridge. And you have to install it and download updates anyway.

BTW anybody else remember the original Gran Turismo? It came with an excerpt from a real race driving manual that was super informative. Now THAT was cool.
 
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TheMan

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yes and no. that stuff was cool like the very first time i'd open the package but then I'd never think about it again. Never bothered to hang up a single video game poster. Shit just piled up and eventually got tossed.
 
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