Manuals were awesome back then

Open up a game nowadays and you might get a warranty card disguised as a manual. Get a new computer, and you might get a fold-out poster showing where all of the color coded plugs go. But hop into the Nostalgia Machine, and you might discover how weighty manuals were back then when they couldn’t stuff all of that information into a game or when companies needed to explain how PCs worked with ring bound booklets.

But how about a manual that ranted against the idea of DRM before it was known as DRM? A post on Ironic Sans (thanks BoingBoing), a site run by professional photographer, David Friedman, has a few snippets of a manual for the Franklin Ace 100 from the early eighties that rants against copy protection. Seriously. And this was from a PC manufacturer. Here’s an excerpt:

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The rest of the manual was also as humorously written and you can read the whole thing on Ironic Sans. Though the writer probably couldn’t foresee the impact that technology such as torrents, FTPs, usenet, IRC, would bring to the table in conversations on piracy, some of what he says resonates pretty strongly almost thirty years later when brought up against draconian approaches like Ubisoft’s online DRM.

It’s also too bad that no one can get away with even a little humor within manuals due to someone that might take it seriously. It’s probably along the same lines of why the trash talking in ads between console manufacturers had died out. For example, I can bet that you won’t see a PS3 ad making fun of how many discs it takes for Xbox 360 owners to play FFXIII in the same way that Square had openly mocked cartridges (and the Nintendo 64 at the time) with a two page spread for FFVII.

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But it would probably have been funny.

One ultra-rare Nintendo game – $13,105

Stadium Events is considered one of the rarest of the rare. It’s a Nintendo game from the NES era from Bandai, but its so rare that only 10 of these things are assumed to be floating around still intact. And someone just opted to pay $13,105 for a copy according to BoingBoing. Why so rare? According to Wikipedia’s version of events:

  • It was launched by Bandai America at one Woolworth’s store which doubled as a test market for them in 1987. That’s ONE store.
  • In 1988, Nintendo purchased the rights to the mat technology that it used soon after, tech that would become the Power Pad
  • All copies were pulled from shelves and presumably destroyed
  • Only 2000 copies were believed to have been produced and only 200 of these actually reached customers before being pulled
  • Collectors believe that fewer than 10 complete copies exist today, only one of which is factory sealed.

The real value for this isn’t the game itself, either, which also commands a pretty penny. It’s actually the box that’s pricier. That’s right: a plain, old, cardboard box with an image plastered on it.

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So when this auction shows up with a photograph showing a version of Stadium Events in a pristine box, it’s as if someone had just thrown up the video game world’s version of a rare baseball card. NintendoAge, a huge fansite dedicated to NES collectables, news, and sharing stories about their favorite games, have also caught on to the auction and have even given the seller a bit of friendly advice given the “lottery ticket” she had stumbled upon.

It might seem bizarre to many people to spend that much on a game, even to some that love the industry, but to serious collectors that ply the ‘net and local garage sales for those rare bits of video gaming history, they’re just as valuable as the missing seven minutes to the 1937 film version of Lost Horizon.