Saturday, March 11, 2017

Manual Stimulation: Snow Bros. Jr. (GameBoy)

I don't know about you, but I really love the instruction manuals that were made for Japanese GameBoy games.

I especially love the ones that utilized two-tone or "spot color" printing. The manual showcased in this post is a good example, with others including the booklets that were packed inside copies of Kitchen Panic, Painter Momopie and Penguin Land.

To achieve this effect, just two ink colors--rather than the more traditional four--are used during the printing process. In most cases, one of the ink colors is black, although that's not always true. Two cases in point: Bubble Bobble Junior's manual features blue and green ink, while The Tower of Druaga's features red and green. (Although I spot some black ink on the cover of the latter as well.)

Intriguingly, the artists at Naxat Soft went with either orange or yellow ink (I honestly can't tell which) when they prepped the instruction booklet that would be sold with their GameBoy port of Toaplan's Snow Bros.

I say intriguingly because most such manuals I've come across to date prefer cooler colors like blue and green and purple.

At any rate, I think the effect here is rather pleasing. Plus, it complements the rest of the game's packaging, which leans heavily on primary colors. (To see what I mean, check out my post from a few years back that highlights Snow Bros. Jr.'s outer box and cartridge.)

There's more to the Snow Bros. Jr. booklet than its use of spot color, of course. For instance, it also provides readers with a bevy of adorable illustrations.

Appropriately, they remind me of the similarly rough drawings that can be found in many of Taito's PC Engine manuals--such as Don Doko Don, Hana Taaka Daka!?, Mizubaku Daibouken and The New Zealand Story.

I'm particularly fond of the sushi and item illustrations that can be seen in the scan above, although the one in the lower-right corner deserves all kinds of kudos for so humorously depicting either Nick or Tom--the names of Snow Bros. Jr.'s "cool" protagonists--being accosted by one of the game's baddies.

Aside from the lovely art, this booklet dutifully explains how to play this pint-sized Snow Bros. port. There's not much to it, really--you hit the GameBoy's A button to jump, and its B button to toss snowballs at baddies. Also, once you've encased an enemy in a fully formed snowball, you can kick it with one more B-button press.

That simplicity helps make Snow Bros. Jr. both easy to play and thoroughly enjoyable. Sure, it lacks the brilliant (sometimes garish) colors of the arcade original and its console counterparts, but that doesn't stop this portable iteration from being just as much fun.

Even if that weren't true, I'd still be glad I own a copy of this Japanese GameBoy title. For starters, its cover art makes me swoon. Also, a four-page manga takes up the final section of its manual.

Unfortunately, I can't translate its story for you. I know the first few panels of the first page introduce Nick and Tom and describe their main methods of attack, but that's it. If any of you have the ability to summarize the tale told in the scans above, by all means do so in the comments section of this post.

UPDATE: a reader named Dave Edwards kindly volunteered to translate the entire Snow Bros. Jr. manual into English. Check out the fruits of his labor here.

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