Those of us who grew up during the era when the Nintendo Entertainment System was a gaming powerhouse have fond memories of official publications such as Nintendo Power, but plenty of other publishers wanted to get a piece of the 8-bit action which led to a glut of unauthorized, unofficial players guides and strategy manuals that provided simplistic, strange, and sometimes just plain wrong information in a bid to separate young gamers from their allowance money. Consider Strategies for Nintendo Games as published by Consumer Guide, for instance. This thin wire-bound book sold at school book fairs and grocery store magazine racks everywhere in 1989 boasted assistance for titles such as Bases Loaded, Contra, Life Force, Bionic Commando, Super Mario Bros. 2, and Xevious, but managed to be a special combination of unhelpful and patronizing. Kid Fenris walks us through the guide:
The book is far more mundane in its descriptions of notable first-generation NES games. Each writeup covers the basics of a particular title, with a big red suggestion that ranges from helpful (“SHOOT THE WALLS” for Gauntlet) to the confusing (“PRACTICE” for Skate or Die). Each screenshot is accompanied by some sort of tip, and one can easily tell when the writers were weary of penning one bluntly obvious caption after another and just wanted to finish up the page and move on to writing about printers or the new Honda.
Consumer Guide followed up a year later with More Strategies for Nintendo Games which offered more of the same (literally more of the same, as several games from the first book were covered again). As a young Nintendo fan, I eagerly snapped up the first volume when I found it for sale at my elementary school's book sale event. Even at the tender age of eight, I knew useless trash when I saw it, and had I bothered to leaf through the book before buying it, I wouldn't have bothered to add it to my growing Nintendo collection. Still, the Nintendo brand had such a hold on me at that time that I gladly bought everything I found related to it on faith that I was buying a quality product. I learned a valuable lesson about always examining an item before buying it thanks to this book, and that's why it's so terrible that I made the same stupid mistake the following year when I happily bought the More sequel book without checking it over first. Needless to say, it's not one of my prouder moments.