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I can remember ages ago when the manual was the copy protection. The disc was easily copied, but the game told you NOTHING about what was going on. Temple of Apshai for example had treasure codes, so you'd open a chest and see "T13" and that's it... You'd have to open the manual and look to see what it was supposed to be (e.g. "a small ruby and a small diamond") and there was another table to show the value of the individual gems.
It might also ask you "Input the 3rd word, 5th paragraph on page 11" so you could play the game. This was back in the age when you couldn't just easily photograph and upload or scan and upload pages from a book, and copies might cost you 10¢ each (and the manual would be like 300 pages)...I'm not feeling nostalgic for this aspect of manuals though.
I think another reason why they don't print manuals much anymore is that you can just go to a forum and post your questions about the game, or go to a website to read the backstory, or watch a game trailer, or whatever. But yeah, having the manual to read was nice as was having the boxes... I used to save the boxes to all my games back in the C64 days...
Nice, I remember being able to only buy a game once or twice a year (they used to be 150 gulden here in Holland). After selecting a game *(birthday usually, same thing every year) I would read the instruction manual front to back 10 times on the car ride home.
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