A blog about tabletop hobby and or strategy games, with a side order of electronic turn based goodness here and there. Now with tons of retro gaming content both electronic and tabletop. Also with 20% more self loathing douchebaggery!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Game Collection: Console Cluebooks (Also Dragon Quest Lovvin)

Something that in many cases is worth more than the game itself are the cluebooks, or as many like to call themselves now, Official Strategy Guide.  While back in the day these things were really the only solution to these games outside of gaming magazines or friends who may have completed the game, now Gamefaqs is the winner here and forums are a nice backup.  (Though given the horrid people who post on Gamefaqs one is recommended to never read any messageboard stuff there.)

These books have become nicer looking and have all the meaty info most publishers never bother to put in the manuals.  (If your game even comes with one any more.)  So now they are more like keepsakes than things you buy because they are super useful.  Why pay 15-35 bucks for the cluebook when you might only need a hint or two you can get online for FREE?

Of course as a hobby gamer these things are also useful resources for instant maps and dungeons, something to keep in mind.  100-300 page full color books full of maps and other nifty info one could mine when in a pinch to make up one's latest adventure.

Let's get to the list.  (This is primarily console game cluebooks.  PC will get it's own coverage.)

Here we have an official game guide (Chrono Trigger), an unofficial one (Pokemon), 2 bonus inserts from mid 90s game magazines (Megafan and Gamepro Code Book), a purchasable magazine guidebook (Megafan), and the two Nintendo books.  The Official Nintendo Player's Guide was like GOLD in the late 80s.  Magazines for games weren't really reborn until 1989 or so.  Outside of Nintendo Power and newsletters, a book like this was the only way to get maps and help for games.  Much like the Mega Fan book(let)s, sometimes back then many games never had any clue books or a newsletter with help.  These sorts of things were really the only help you could possibly get!  And with games like Metroid and Goonies II?  NO MAP YOU PROBABLY WON'T EVER FINISH THEM.  No in game map or help.  

The SimCity/SimEarth book is primarily for the PC versions but my editions of those games are the SNES and Turbo Duo versions respectively.  And they help.  But being a PC guide they are smarter and more in depth than later or even concurrent videogame books would be.  Sega Genesis Secrets is a decent all in one book by a games writer of the time.  Gamepro Hot Tips is more or less just stuff taken from the magazine and plugged into a book.  Beats buying or storing dozens of magazines released over a few years.  (You can tell its a little slipshod.  One of the pictures is art of Phantasy Star on the SMS.  I don't think a SINGLE SMS game is covered in here!)  The Lunar guide covers the Sega CD classic and has a pretty funny interview with Victor Ireland the infamous head of Working Designs.  The Phantasy Star III Hint Book, like the two Sega guides next to it look to be translated versions of Japanese hint guides.  Except the PS2 and Vermillion ones came free with the game (try completing PS2 without it.  I DARE YOU.) while the PS3 was a seperate purchase.  For some idiot reason I got the Transformers movie game hint book just for the DS TF game info and not its primary use for the console title which was quite different.   Sometimes I buy dumb things.

Another Pokeymans guide.  For a game I never finished.  Pokemon was really a one time game for me.  The Zelda guide covers all the Zelda games in a now somewhat sought after Gamecube collection.  I think I got it free for a Nintendo Power subscription.  I have NO idea why I bought the Serious Sam guide.  Its a First Person Shooter!  The Metroid Prime book is handy though I still haven't beaten the bloody game.  And now I own the Wii remake too.  Shenmue is another one I bought the guide for and still haven't finished it.  Star Wars Starfighter did help me a bit for a few bonus thingies but is another guidebook I could have skipped honestly.  Fantastic game though.

Beyond the Beyond only sort of helps with that mediocre early Playstation 1 RPG.  The Playstation Official Games Book mostly covers games one wouldn't need a cluebook for anyhow but its a nice historical document of the early PS1 era.  The Tactics Ogre cluebook is huge and should be a good help whenever I get to the game.   Same with the Resident Evil 5 book.  The Resident Evil Gamecube remake book has some amazing maps in it.  The Oblivion book was a later release covering the expansion content I don't have for a game I got bored of halfway into.  

The FF12 Limited Edition guide I got off a friend really cheap so no reason not to have it.  The Dragon Ball Z Bububu Tinklefart 2 guide is why I bought the game which I have barely done more than try out.  The guide showed a ton of playable characters and I am a sucker for such things even though I am no longer a fan of the franchise.  (I have been buying the edited series on DVD though.  Its like all the crazy space martial arts without all the padding.  Like the 30 good minutes of NFL Football with the 3 1/2 hours of replays, broadcaster banter, and beer/auto parts commercials removed!)  The Phantasy Star Online guide was an excellent resource while playing the game, and was handy for the Gamecube remake in split/quarter screen mode to look up weapon stats and the like.  The Zelda Twilight Princess guide I think was another subscription bonus because I still haven't put the thing in my Wii in spite of buying it with the system.  I can be incredibly dumb sometimes...

And now... Dragon Quest!

The Dragon Quest series first came over to the US as Dragon Warrior.  A simplified hybrid of Ultima's top down tile based exploration and Wizardry's first person menu based combat, Dragon Quest has for the most part kept the same core gameplay since 1985 due to fan demand.  (In Japan where it is insanely popular.  I believe the newest title is mostly a real time MMORPG however.)  This turn based RPG series is known for having a whimsical art style thanks to the guy responsible for Dragon Ball Z, and in general being more of a nostalgic game than constantly trying to reinvent itself like Final Fantasy does.  This puts it more in line with the Japanese Wizardry games which try to keep the gameplay mostly the same as the original title than the US ones which started doing like Ultima and reinventing the wheel with every new release.  (Which given how awful the later Ultima games were shows this does not always work.  Final Fantasy fans can get into massive flamewars over which game is best and worst.)

Dragon Quest tweaks it doesn't take bold steps.  And I love it for that.  They are good, fun, and dependable games.  While many of them will be seen in later collection pictures, a couple and their cluebooks seem right to place here.

My DQ cluebook collection.  The 4 and 6 Nintendo DS remakes, DQ 8 on the Playstation 2, and DQ 9 also on DS which was originally supposed to be more of a real time semi MMORPG but Japanese fan outcry changed the design for the better.  Sadly of the games shown in the picture, I have only completed 4 (whose NES version is one of my favorite games on that platform, this remake being even better), and haven't even played 6 yet.  I have them.  And am eagerly awaiting the remake of 7 to possibly get a US release as the Playstation 1 original was generally panned at the time and I didn't pick it up.

Why I haven't finished 8 is beyond me.  Perhaps I was distracted?

Dragon Quest 8's Jessica.  And the Twins.

Dragon Warrior 1&2 on the Game Boy Color (but also playable on original terrible Game Boy) have improved level and money advancement over the NES originals I sadly no longer own due to trades with friends (DQ 2 for Double Dragon 3?  Even in 91 that was a STUPID STUPID THING!) or stores (got squat for it.  Helped me get Phantasy Star 2 and Super Hydlide in 1990 for my birthday so not too bad).  I enjoyed both games a lot, playing the original US releases when new as I already loved electronic RPGs.  (For console folks Dragon Warrior never really sold till it was given away free with Nintendo Power subscriptions.)  I never had Dragon Warrior 3 though I had salivated over it for years having ownership of a walkthrough from Nintendo Power.  I always planned on getting it but never saw it.  Sadly this remake while amazing I first started playing in bed around 8-9am in the morning before bedtime.  On September 11th, 2001.  I woke up and got cleaned up to run my D&D 3.0 Dragonlance game only to find out what happened while I was putting off sleep with a new videogame.  Dragon Warrior 4 I bought at a Navy Exchange while in Norfolk VA in 1993.  I had to make a few calls from a pay phone to get through a few bits.  I also played a bit of it at a friend's apartment.  Even though he was married there was some evidence I wouldn't figure out until hearing other things later on that... Nintendo games weren't the kind of things he was interested in playing.  I'm kind of glad I didn't realize this till later. Things would have been awkward.  And it would have taken me longer to finish the game playing it at the Navy Rec Center NES machines.  

(The Dragon Warrior (now Quest like Japan names it.  Name change due to a US tabletop RPG called Dragon Quest.  NO JOKE.) III pages ripped out of a Nintendo Power.  A massive guide with even a bit of info from the previous titles!  Also the Pokemon like Dragon Warrior Monsters 2 I got cheap.)

As it stands and you will see, I have in some legit US form, Dragon Quest 1-6, 8, and 9 with a couple of the spinoff titles.  I do hope the 7 remake on the 3DS comes out in the US.  Also I recommend the Dragon Quest Youtube videos from "Clan of the Grey Wolf", and "Happy Videogame Nerd" if you want more information about this amazing series.

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