Ever since I introduced the "Manual Stimulation" series last month, I've been flipping through the instruction manuals of all of my games (the Japanese retro ones, especially) to find those that are most likely to cause, er, stimulation.
Before all of that flipping started, I imagined that my Famicom and PC Engine collections would be responsible for the bulk of the booklets that will be highlighted in future "Manual Stimulation" posts. Surprisingly, I was only half right--or at least that's the case as of now.
You see, while I've come across plenty of awesome PC Engine manuals, just two of my Famicom game manuals--those being the ones produced for Mother and Super Mario Bros.--could be described as such. A more apt description for the rest of the bunch: Boring.
Take, for example, Donkey Kong's instruction manual (below). Admittedly, its front cover isn't the most boring ever produced, but it's also not exactly thrilling. (Click on it or any of the other scans to take a closer look.)
On the other hand, this particular manual's first four pages are, in my humble opinion, the definition of "ho hum."
Things perk up just a bit half-way through Donkey Kong's manual, though, thanks to the inclusion of a few black-and-white sprites.
Despite the improvement, I'd be hard-pressed to describe this game's instruction manual as "stimulating."
Donkey Kong isn't the only early Famicom game to have a yawn-inducing manual, though; in fact, all of Nintendo's "Pulse Line" and "Silver Box" (Balloon Fight, Ice Climber and more) are similarly lackluster, as are Namcot's first releases for the system.
When was this trend bucked? I can't say with any certainty, unfortunately, but I think it may have been when Super Mario Bros. was unleashed upon the masses. That game's manual, while not exactly wow-worthy, is twice as thick as the ones produced for its predecessors and features a number of illustrations--rudimentary ones, but still--that call to mind those that appear in later, greater examples of the medium.
See also: All 'Manual Stimulation' posts