1.15: Manual

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One last postscript before I move onto the next game. I found the original The Legend of Zelda game manual! It’s surprisingly well put together. I’ve chucked a link to the pdf here, but I’ve also grabbed a few bits of interest and popped them below.

There’s a lot of detail here; an expanded scenario, loads of stuff on enemies, bits and bobs about items and how to equip them, there’s even a guide on how to reach the first two dungeons. Pre-internet, this manual would have been invaluable.

This is probably entirely wrong, but I remember all manuals being like this in the old days. Not only is it a great tool, it also helps sell the game as this grand, mysterious adventure. Of a world, fully formed. I can only imagine my excitement if I had leafed through this in Woolworths as a kid.

Here’s Miyamoto discussing the manual in a recent interview about the NES Classic Edition (the little diddy NES Nintendo released in 2016):


The opening crawl shows various treasures and items, and then at the end you see Link holding up a sign that says “Please look up the manual for details.”

Miyamoto: Uh-huh.

Those who play The Legend of Zelda for the first time on the NES Classic Edition may wonder what that means. Would you explain?

Miyamoto: We put in that message because the game included a manual, a sort of booklet. However, some people would use a Famicom Disk Writer Kiosk4 at game shops to overwrite their games, and we felt they would want some sort of proof that they purchased the game.

4. Famicom Disk Writer Kiosk: A device in game shops for overwriting game data. For 500 yen, players could write a new game to a Disk Card.

They would be happy to get something tangible instead of just overwriting the data on a disk.

Miyamoto: So we decided to make a booklet with gameplay instructions, story elements to serve as hints, and strategic methods for solving puzzles. We wanted players to read it, so we put in that message saying “Please look up the manual for details.”

That booklet is pretty well-made.

Miyamoto: Yes. One function of that booklet was to reinforce the feeling of the game’s epic setting. Back then, mainly package illustrations and arcade game cabinet design conveyed the game’s atmosphere, but with the Family Computer Disk System, we used booklets.

I see.

Miyamoto: Additionally, a lot of people would be playing an adventure game of that sort for the first time, so the booklet would also serve to provide instructions.


Here’s the expanded story stuff, as outlined in the manual. There’s still no mention of what the third Triforce is. But anyway, isn’t it ace that you can see the whole Overworld painted underneath?

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Here’s a kinda broad guide to the dungeons. I love the illustrations. I’ve no idea whether the art was created specifically for the manual, but I’ve seen it all over. Bonus points for spotting the monster after which this blog’s url was named.

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And here’s perhaps the most important part, for me. Turns out I played through the final parts of The Legend of Zelda with the wrong bloody sword! Despite frequently using a guide. Confirmation, if confirmation were needed, that I’m a bloody idiot.

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