When it’s fun to RTFM

Manuals and documentation occupy an interesting space. On the one hand they are somewhat romanticized as a lost element of physical media, and can be wheeled out to complain about “kids these days.” On the other, the ethos of “everything needed to play a game should be contained within the game” has become basically an unbreakable norm, lest you face consternation of players.

In the last few years, and especially recently, I’ve been playing more games where reading the manual is a core part of not only what I do when ‘playing’ but also is central to what creates the fun for me. In my case, playing used Japanese ps1 games has necessitated it through both the design of the game but also the limits of my language skills that benefit greatly from being able to parse written text at my own pace, rather than one-shot or auto advancing explanations.

Part of the pleasure for me comes from the sense of “doing work” in some way, eating my veggies. But the other source of pleasure comes from the feeling that the knowledge I need and all that exists will lie somewhere in this pamphlet or book. In the age of googling questions to be directed to a half addressed reddit post gives this sense of always-infinite threads. Working just with a manual or guide feels like a contained box that can eventually be totally inventoried. That is a nice feeling.

What experiences have you enjoyed by engaging with manuals/guides/documentation? (digital counts too)

(Topic inspired by discussion [here](https://forums.insertcredit.com/d/2923-tell-me-about-a-game-that-hasnt-fit-into-another-thread/10))

When I was a kid, I coloured in all the Badniks illustrations in my Sonic 1 manual and felt like it made it mine.

I used to endlessly reread the SF2 Champion Edition manual. I was such a sucker for any information I could get about that game.

I was like to look through the manuals for Japanese PS2 games when I play them. I can't read much but they're often/always(?) full colour and feel very luxurious.

I really liked sitting by myself with this Street Fighter II Turbo SNES guide and trying to learn all the moves when I was probably 8-9 years old (I still have it around here somewhere). I would set the game to 2 players, low handicap and maximum rounds and switch between both characters until I had everything memorized (which did pay off in the future). I didn't even have an arcade nearby or reason to get good at the game. I played against the CPU and just liked being able to do the moves and see the animations.

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what is the name of that video game that doesnt exist but has a strategy guide art project. ANyone know what I'm talking about?


found it!

https://hollow-press.net/products/vermis-i