Believe it or not, beating a game used to be serious business. If you bought a game and got stuck back in the day, that was usually it. In the 90s and early 2000s, getting stuck usually meant not being able to progress at all. This could be because of a tough boss fight, a lack of direction, or the inability to figure out a puzzle. However, there was something that would often help with such a problem: The strategy guide.
Strategy guides were special books, tailored to telling you how to beat the games they were based on. Strategy guides originally started off as sections in gaming magazines, ones that would walk you through sections of the game. There were also “Tips & Tricks” columns in various gaming magazine articles. These were usually designed to give the player secrets, hints, or general advice when it came to playing the game.
Nintendo Power, Electronic Gaming Monthly, and the official Playstation Magazine were pretty good when it came to giving out the good stuff. Eventually though, it was decided to give video-game guides their own separate books. Thus, the concept of “Strategy Guides” were born. These books were great, and still are in many ways!
Beyond them just telling you how to play the game, they also featured colored images from the game. While some guides did have a black-and-white color palette, these were usually less common than the colored ones. Fully colored strategy guides ruled, especially for people who just like to have the guide on hand.
I just love strategy guides, because they’re fun to read before bed. The one thing I hate doing is playing a game right before I go to sleep, and keeping myself up late because of it. Sometimes, it’s fun to just sit and read about the game. Sure, I love playing each and every game I can get my hands on, but I also love reading about them just as much.
That’s why both gaming magazines and strategy guides have a big place in my heart. Sadly, strategy guides are a dying breed. You’ll usually only see them being released for the big games, not so much the smaller titles. Back in the day, strategy guides would come out for almost every game under the sun. Nowadays, guides are a rarity.
Unless it’s a big release like Elder Scrolls, Fallout, or some other big franchises, then chances are it won’t be getting a guide. A lot of this comes down to GameFaqs, which made getting guides for games super easy. People would just write their own guides, post them to the site, and allow people to look up how to beat the game for free.
As a result of this, strategy guides were slowly phased out and are barely existent nowadays. Still, I love looking back at once was and reflecting on the greatness that was and still is strategy guides! Even when I don’t need them to help beat a game, it’s still fun to have one around to flip through on occasion!