You know you're in for quite a read when someone decides to call the booklet that's included with a particular game--in this case, Tengen's Magical Puzzle Popils for the Sega Game Gear--a "guide" rather than a "manual," as is typically the case.
Which begs the question: Is it a good read in this case or a bad one?
Considering I don't know a lick of Japanese, you'll have to take my response with a rather large grain of salt. Based on what I can see, though, I'd say Magical Puzzle Popil's 30-page (yes, you read that correctly) "guide" is a bit of both.
The manuals' designers certainly didn't start things off on the wrong foot, thanks in large part to its colorful front and even back covers.
The first two interior pages are quite a bit less thrilling, but the following pair offer up a trio of adorable illustrations that more than make up for the preceding yawn-fest.
Even more illustrations appear on the manual's next handful of pages. They're not as precious--or large--as the ones I just pointed out, but they're still pretty cool.
Oh, hey, some sprites! They look a bit squished, if you ask me, but who cares. They're sprites!
I believe we're supposed to be learning some rules or strategies or something in the pages above and below. Again, nothing that's going to make your heart race, but the illustrations are a nice touch.
Here we get into Magical Puzzle Popils' "map edit" mode, which basically lets players make their own stages. Strangely, I've yet to put this mode through its paces. Maybe I'll finally do so after I acquire a Game Gear system? (I've only experienced this Fukio Mitsuji-developed title via emulation.)
Magical Puzzle Popils' manual, er, I mean "magical guide" wraps up with something called "10 Selections." I'm guessing they're just a selection of the game's many stages, but don't quote me on that.
So, was all of the above enough to convince you to give this portable puzzler a try? Probably not. That's too bad, because I think everyone should experience it at least once.
Would it help if I told you that it was the brainchild of the man who brought the world Bubble Bobble? Yeah, I thought it might.
See also: Previous 'Manual Stimulation' posts