I love video games. I love books. I love playing games. I love reading books.
It seems only natural that I would love game guides. They allow me to port around a ton of lore, and they smell good, to boot.
Could I take Borderlands 2 to jury duty summons and play it (this was long before it released on PS Vita)? Nope.
Could I take my limited edition Borderlands 2 game guide with me to learn about the game while I sat around all day to see if I’d be tapped for jury duty?
I love so many things about game guides. I love that these screenshots and data and tips exist on actual pages that I can touch and smell. For most games I really love, I have the game guide. I’ve even retroactively sought out older game guides for games I love (e.g.: Disney’s Haunted Mansion, Okami) to round out my collection (and knowledge!).
I know it is cheaper and faster to look to the internet for tips and solutions to problems, but something about my brain loves to pull the guide off the shelf, find what I’m looking for, and continue on.
It’s like studying.
It makes me feel like Giles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Even better are the limited edition and special edition game guides that are released for big games. Some of my favorite games have been privy to beautiful guide editions, such as BioShock: Infinite, Borderlands 2, Far Cry 4, and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Those guides are not only helpful, but gorgeous to look at.
As much as I love guides, there are a few that have been less than helpful. Somewhere along the line, things must have changed in certain games, and no one must have told the guide writers, as I’ve come across a few that had either incredibly vague data, and some that had flat out incorrect data.
The winner for “best” vague data was the Destiny game guide. In my initial playthrough, I was searching for all the dead ghosts in the game. I decided to go through by planet. When I consulted the guide, I found some less than helpful “guidance” in finding them.
Allow me, for a moment, to say that I go to guides for guidance (how novel!). If I’m consulting one mid-game, it likely means I need to figure out a particular problem and have been hitting a wall. At that point, I need some direct and pertinent information. Not a mysterious clue.
These were some of Bungie’s “Dead Ghost Hints:”
Hint: Got your gun? Watch the ceiling.
Hint: Stand in the puddle, look left.
Oh. Sure. There’s only one puddle in the game. (Spoiler: there are tons of puddles.)
Hint: Shed your fears.
Those are the most vague and nonsensical “tips” I’ve seen. If I’m buying a guide, I’m looking for detailed descriptions with accompanying screenshots, in this case to show me where the ghosts were. Those “hints” were of no help at all.
The winner for “best” incorrect data goes, hands down, to the Dead Island: Riptide game guide.
When I was a decent way through the game, I thought I’d look at the trophy list at the end of the guide to see if there were any low-hanging fruit trophies I could work on while I was playing. One such trophy in the guide was called, “Knife Thrower.” To get the trophy, you had to kill 100 enemies using throwing knives.
I started exclusively using throwing knives (unless I absolutely had to revert to a more traditional weapon). I did that for hours. And hours. I finally started to wonder what was going on, so I went into the trophy list via the PS3 menu.
There was no such trophy.
I had easily spent several hours trying to get that particular trophy and it didn’t even exist. I had to simply laugh at the situation, as I never expected a guide to be so blatantly incorrect. Today, as I looked back at my guide to make sure I had the accurate name they listed for the pretend trophy, I saw my annotation next to it: NOT AN ACTUAL THING!
With that I ask, do you like game guides? If so, which are your favorites? Have you also had an experience where you came across a major flaw in a guide? If so, which?