Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ode to the Strategy Guide - Part I

If you've visited my blog before, you know I have a secret love for strategy guides. Well, that isn't 100% true. I love strategy guides to complement the games I love. No use buying a Gears of War 2 guide for a game I can't stand, right? One could simply go to GameFAQs or another website with walkthroughs to get all they need. Well, no, not me. I love holding something tangible with masterful artwork, maps, and pictures. There's no substitution for a strategy guide that you can feel the pages turn, hear that crackle as they turn, and smell that new book smell. My biggest problem with guides is that they've gone up in price since last gen. Before they used to be $14.99 usually, and now they're five dollars more for the same content. Now I buy from Amazon where they're even less. That's where I got my latest stack of guides from as well as from trades/purchases from members on CheapAssGamer. The Nintendo Power came in the mail, and I have no idea why I included the blasted thing.

I also wanted to take this time to talk about some of my favorite guides in my collection. I don't quite remember the very first guide I ever purchased or was bought for me. It was most likely a Nintendo Power brand one like the first three are. I used to love when Nintendo Power put out a new guide. They were clean, detailed, and witty all at the same time.
The first guide is The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. I love this guide because it's written like a storybook. "As Link delved deeper into cavern he noticed a switch on the northwestern wall." Something like that. It also had gorgeous artwork, colorful maps, and plenty of secrets to spoil.
I lucked out, and I got one of the final copies of this guide straight from Nintendo Power. It's a great read, and it helps players like myself gain all 20 red coins, 5 flowers, and keep 30 stars in each level. The maps are varied and vibrant with plenty of icons to point out notable problem areas. Overall, a great, early guide from Nintendo Power. This was when they still made their books smaller. It wasn't until later in the N64's life that the books grew to this size:
Bigger, bolder, sleeker, sexier... did I just call a player's guide sexy? Dear God... Anyhoo, while other students were studying pre-algebra, I was studying this baby. Looking at the detailed maps, figuring out strategies to sneak past the guards without getting caught, and mastering the Combat Simulator. Perfect Dark remains my favorite FPS to date, and this baby was my Holy Grail. After the Pokemon Battle Revolution guide was published, it was the end of an era. Nintendo stopped manufacturing and writing their own guides. What a crappy send-off, by the way. They gave their duties over to Prima which disturbed me. Their guides were usually shoddily made, and they'd fall apart at the binding just like my Final Fantasy Tactics and Breath of Fire III guides did. The only one that didn't was this one:
Mega Man Legends. It wasn't written too well, and the pages were cluttered with nonessential graphics. Nonetheless, it helped me out through the harder portions of the game. I can't imagine how rare this guide is, but I know the game it covers very much is. Darn myself for not picking up MML 2 when I had the chance. It seemed though that my worries were for naught as Prima came out with two of my favorite guides:
New Super Mario Bros. Wii was full of beautiful and highly detailed maps making locating every star coin a snap. Well, locating them, not actually getting them. That was still difficult to do. As for their Mario Kart Wii guide, I love how it's organized with full-page maps with the proper racing lines to take for all thirty-two tracks. Both guides are put together well and haven't yet fallen apart on me after continued use. Next up is part two of my ode to the strategy guide-- BradyGames and Versus. Stay tuned, gang, and feel free to comment on your thoughts regarding strategy guides and your favorites.


The Dread Pirate Guy said...

My oldest strategy guides are The Official Nintendo Players Guide, and the NES Zelda and Super Mario Bros. books you could only order from the Nintendo Fun Club. All things considered, they've held up pretty well over the years.

My current favorite is the Kingdom Hearts II guide as it's huge and there's a ton of artwork.

Unknown said...

Ooh, yes. I got the KHII guide after I completed the game. It's just a nice souvenir to have I'd agree.