They can often be an afterthought these days, but in the console generations of yore, game manuals were often essential reading. Compared to the rare packs that come with games today, these vintage instruction manuals were on a completely different level in terms of the care and detail that went into them – and the page count was also much higher.
Now, as noted Kotaku, a community project led by streamer Peebs has successfully scanned and downloaded all the latest English game manuals for the Super Nintendo. You can view the entire collection here. Peebs was motivated to assemble a central resource for textbooks during an eight-year quest to play and beat all SNES games for his Twitch viewers.
Browsing through random instruction booklets can be a fun dose of nostalgia for 30-somethings like me, but it can also be a useful resource for anyone working on the various SNES titles available with a Nintendo Switch Online membership.
We couldn’t have done this without all the help from everyone else.
On twitter, discord, reddit. Spread the word and help find manuals here and there.
In 2 years we have gone from 52% of textbooks available to 100%
— Peebs – SNESManuals.com (@PeebsSNES) July 1, 2022
Nintendo provides online manuals for every game included with its NES Classic and SNES Classic consoles, but this is a much more comprehensive vault of game history. Take a look at the manual for something like the trigger of a stopwatch as an example of how big they could be in the 16-bit era. Similar archives are available for Nintendo 64 and Virtual Boy titles.
The SNES Handbook Project was a collaborative effort, with owners of rare or hard-to-find titles contributing to archiving the scans. Nearly 100 people showed up, according to Peebs. But if anyone has the PAL manual for the German version of Daze before Christmas, you can help fill in the last remaining piece of the puzzle. I’ll just be here browsing through old favorites like Saturday Night Slam Masters and one Home improvement game that I didn’t even know existed. The in-game tutorials just aren’t quite the same as a physical textbook with a notes section at the end.