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Remembering a bygone era where maps and manuals came with games


Mar 22, 2017
Games also used to be packed in carton boxes, rather than plastic.
I atill have Majoras Mask with its original box and in good shape. Never giving that away.
Depending on the system you had they were in both, but the quality was all over the place.


Sep 18, 2017
Looks like tutorials won.
I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing, the devil is in the details. Some few initial pointers to get you accustomed with the controls and mechanics, why not. They could be in a manual, but I don't mind them being in-game, as long as the implementation is tactful. However. Take something like Xenoblade Chronicles 2 - you're still getting tutorials for new mechanics 10+ hours into the game. I know JRPGs can be excessive and bloated, but come on.
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Sep 18, 2017
The discussion in this thread can be improved by clearing up a huge misconception: that one needs super high apm to either enjoy or be good a RTS.
...I don't think you're necessarily improving the discussion in this thread.
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Gold Member
Sep 10, 2018
I'd love all those good old boxes it if I was ever a collector.
But I'm not - instead I move a lot. Having a collection of, well, anything really, would only clutter up and make my life more complicated.

That said, some of the manuals were genuinely cool.
On the other hand, I firmly believe that no game should ever require you to read a manual and instead everything should be explain in-game or at least offer an in-game "manual" for more abstract mechanics.

The discussion in this thread can be improved by clearing up a huge misconception: that one needs super high apm to either enjoy or be good a RTS.
The truth is, with much lower APM like 80 to 180 (which anybody can do) you can have fun and be good at the game.
The real truth is that an APM between 80 and 180 already is "super high". And no, not anybody can do that. Not without a lot of devotion to learning it, and even then I'd argue that most would likely give up before they get anywhere.
Just think, really: Even at the minimum, that's more than one action per second - actions that have to be well thought through and matter to compete even at the lowest of levels online.
I don't think many games have a much higher skill floor than RTS of the SC/AOE/WC style - that's also the reason why the genre simply isn't that big. The barrier of entry is too much for most.

I'd love to see an RTS game that mostly eliminates the need for such high APM to play competitively and instead relies almost only on strategical/tactical decision making.
But the resulting gameplay would probably be too slow to garner much of an audience.
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Fantastik Tuna
Mar 18, 2020
I play digital on PC, though I'll still buy secondhand players guides for some games

Nobody seems to want them, but they're cool, and often handy resources for someone into older PS2/Xbox titles like I am
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Null Persp

Nov 15, 2020
Good times, I still have a lot of big boxed PC and Amiga games and they are still better than many modern collector's editions.
Among those that i have I like the Shadow of the Comet big box, it contains a lot of documents and handwritten letters.
As a copy protection you have a card with a magnifying glass like the one from Colonel Bequest and you have to align the constellations with the ones displayed in the game.

I found some photos from twitter
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Apr 25, 2018
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 definitely relate to this. I have many strategy guides, some I have never used but bought none the less just for the art and maybe a quick browse, and some I have used as they give meaningful build guides. I also love when certain publishers give out a base copy of a game with a strategy guide with it or art book. Usually this is Japanese devs. Atlus, Xseed, NIS, and Falcom are notorious for this. I bought the Skyrim bible sized Strat guide just for this reason and never really used. Same with fallout 3. Got the FF13 one for the art and wound up using it for the synergizes it presented.

Every Y's game seems to have an art book, soundtrack or some other extra, in the launch base price versions.

The original US release of Demon souls came in a box, with Art and lore book , w/ a soundtrack disc pouch at the end of the art book, then it also has a mini strategy guide with it as well, all for the base $60 price point.



I cry about Xbox and hate PlayStation.
Mar 8, 2021
if they include manuals and maps, every game would cost 100 dollars.


Dec 30, 2020
Lunar silver star story complete and arc the lad collection had some banger boxes. Velcro opening tabs on the front , sick disc art, cloth maps, etc. Arc even came with a silver pocket watch which was super dope.


Jan 19, 2009
I dug it too.

There was sense of pride on display in how the gamedevs choose to show the artistic vision and backstory they had in mind. It felt personal and genuine. It played with your imagination more.

I had a soft spot for game magazines that included fullblown guides and in-game maps across several pages. Now those are excluded, seperated from the full package, or, included maybe in special editions or strategy guides. Even physical strategy guides/guidebooks seem to be getting rapidly uncommon.

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.

Pretty much. In a few years time, physical will become redundant and eventually abandonded if trends keep up. Maybe some people will begin to realise what was lost in exchange for the convenience they crave, some day.
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Jun 22, 2011
The greatest days were those 16-bit packaging and color manuals especially by Nintendo. And the odd special edition during the PS1 and PS2 era was fine. I think it went overboard after all this, with useless collectors editions for the sake of it. Some of them were fine (esp. when released for the base price as a first print) but some were absolutely stupid and overpriced.

And now we're here. With a jewel case and a disc that rips entirely to the drive anyway.


Oct 26, 2014
I miss them too. I created a similar thread which didn't really get off the ground a while back 😄:

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Oct 18, 2017
Some honourable mentions off the top of my head

the shadow of the beast games came with a really good quality T-shirt.

7th Guest the box was made to be like a book. Was beautiful.

the ultima box set came with a map and ankh and other stuff iirc??

F16 Falcon came with a huge manual that was a master class in flying a jet

lord of the rings text adventure on 8bit came with a copy of the fellowship book

one of the downfalls were cynical publishers who gave you a HUGE box and just the single disc insidef

Hawks Eclipse

Nov 15, 2019
It still kills me that they release fighters today and never bother to tell you the combinations for the special moves. I guess they figure that's what the internet is for.
Not all of them have indepth tutorials but I'm fairly certain every modern fighting game has a command list that shows you the inputs, it's almost always accessible in the first menu upon pausing.

Most of them won't teach the exploits however. Eg. Instant aerial moves, kara-canceled moves.


Mar 30, 2011
one of the downfalls were cynical publishers who gave you a HUGE box and just the single disc insidef
LOL...I hated that. Computer games were the best in the 8 & 16-bit era, where the boxes were medium sized and packed full of useful stuff. By the late 90's though, the Uber big box with a jewel CD case and a small manual inside the jewel case was just stupid and a let down when you opened the box.


I do remember.

I also remember maybe opening and looking at that stuff once and never giving a single fuck after that.

So them going away never bothered me.

😅 90% of the time this is me. But I do appreciate stuff like Balder's Gate and Oblivion coming with maps.

Also, heading home with the game in your hands going over every inch of it in anticipation is a million times better than waiting for the download to complete.
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Hawks Eclipse

Nov 15, 2019
F16 Falcon came with a huge manual that was a master class in flying a jet
PC military flight sims at the time were basically the heavyweight class when it came to manuals, I always lifted up those boxes in awe but never bought them because I knew I wouldn't play them in the end.
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Oct 5, 2019
I just love that companies justified getting rid of manuals of "environmental reasons"...vs just admitting it was cost cutting
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Neo Member
Mar 27, 2017
Maps and other frills only matter to me when I buy the game and open it the first time. Once played, it goes to the box again and to the shelf, never to leave it again.


Nov 21, 2018
**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:

Yes I miss those days (Crying in all corners of my room)


Sep 29, 2020
One of my favorites was Wing Commander when it came with blueprints of all the combat ships.


Gold Member
May 19, 2019
One of the most important games in regards to this was the origenal PS3 release of Ni no Kuni, the collectors edition specifically.

The reason is it game with a real life actual hardback book which was a one to one recreation of the book you had access to ingame.

The thing is certain puzzles required you to read through the book to solve, as you would need to translate runes or find a passage with a specific phrase by following clues in a riddle. Ingame on the PS3 it is extremely clunky, however actually having the tome sat beside you as you play was one of the most fun experiences in a JRPG ever as it felt far more natural to flick through it when a need popped up.

Sadly this was limited to people who got the original CE and I recently used it to complete the remaster PS4 version and was happy to see the experience held up... honestly a new game needs to come out with something like this.

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Mar 28, 2021
I have no idea how I'm supposed to read that chart and what kind of info it provides.
it tells you on it but it's a chart to find what types are effective against other types of pokemon

each pokemon type is numbered. 4x3 means electric is strong against water. 4x5 means electric is weak to grass and 4x9 means really weak to ground.

here is a more up to date version

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Jun 11, 2019
It was my ritual to read the entire instruction book before starting the game, even if i already knew everything about the game.
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Apr 17, 2015
I do still love these old things.

I keep forgetting to post in this thread so doing now so I'll remember, I still have boxed PC classics in the other room, I can post pics if anyone is interested. Standouts being Messiah and Half-Life 1.

When I get back into work I was thinking of trying to get a hold of my two favourite physical releases, which are the

MGS PS1 EU Twinpack/"Widebox":

and the Monkey Island Bounty Pack:

I just love the art of LeChuck on it, looks so fucking good.

Both of which I used to own, but one was destroyed in an accident and the other was thrown away by my dear old mum :lollipop_sad_relieved:
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