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Video game consoles have come a long way since the Super Nintendo arrived in the United States in 1991 and launched a new generation of gamers, but sometimes nothing beats the classics.
The console was hugely popular, with over 700 games released for the system in the US, and Kerry Hays (aka “Peebs” on the Twitch streaming platform) worked to beat them all. Single. a.
“We had wondered, some of these games, if anyone had beaten them before? They were so weird and obscure or difficult,” he said.
And so, Hays turned to textbooks. For those who didn’t play video games a lot in the 90s, almost all of them came with a manual inside the box with lots of useful information.
The manual was where you found the buttons to press and how the console worked. It could also include your story, story, and maybe even a map.
Super Mario World SNES Manual
“And if you’re really lucky, you get a little preview that would show you, like, the top 10% of the game,” Hays said.
Modern games usually have an intro cutscene and tutorial within the game’s first hour, but older games didn’t have the time or space to include them – hence the manuals.
These days, however, a vintage game complete with a paper manual can be hard to come by. That’s why Hays has collected copies of every Super Nintendo manual in English.
The collection is hosted on the Internet Archive and contains over 850 unique Super Nintendo manuals – and it’s all free. Hays says he’s not in it for the money.
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“For me, preservation is that everyone has access to this material when they want it and where they want it,” he said. “It would be nice to get paid, you know, a standard salary for that. That’s just not what it’s about.”
Luke Plunkett covers games for Kotaku. He wrote about Hays’ mission to collect all manuals in October 2020, and again when all English manuals were finally archived in July. He said it was the crowdsourcing aspect of Hays’ project that caught his eye.
Hays said he started his collection with around 650 scans, then turned to the internet to see what outsiders could offer. Then Plunkett’s writing in Kotaku had even more people sending in submissions.
“There can be a ton of other people going, ‘Oh hey, I’ve got an old Super Nintendo manual lying around’ or ‘Oh, I’ve got some old Super Nintendo games at my parents’ house, I’m going to go. and see if any of the games they need are there,” Plunkett said.
And as if that weren’t enough, Hays isn’t done yet.
“Everyone keeps asking me, ‘Hey, are you going to make this system and how are you going to make this system?’ And I say to myself: “No, I think we are going to do all the systems”, because why not?
The myth of Sisyphus comes to mind, simply pushing that rock up the hill. But Hays says, “It’s a fun rock though. It’s a fun rock and you meet all kinds of interesting people all over the world.”