The lost art of the PC game manual

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Grand Theft Auto III

Developer Rockstar North
Year 2001

Rockstar North’s game-changing foray into three dimensions also came with a pretty cool manual. Designed to look like a tourist guide to Liberty City, it’s packed with daft jokes and genuinely useful tips, like how to import your own character skin: a feature exclusive to the PC version. The guides to the game’s gangs, characters, and radio stations are an added bonus, and the classifieds section (pictured above) is a nice touch.

Diablo

Developer Blizzard North
Year 1996

For a game about clicking on demons in increasingly bleak hellscapes, Diablo sure does have a lot of lore: much of which is outlined in the back of the game’s manual. There’s background information on every enemy, the history of the great conflict between Heaven and Hell, and some really awesome illustrations to boot. You can get all this stuff on a wiki now, of course, but there’s something nice about having a guide to a game’s mythology bundled alongside it, lovingly printed and bound in a physical book.

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