The Super Nintendo Entertainment System with the hit Capcom beat ’em up game Street Fighter II. Tengku Bahar/AFP via Getty Images hide caption
The Super Nintendo Entertainment System with the hit Capcom beat ’em up game Street Fighter II.
Video game consoles have come a long way since the Super Nintendo arrived in the U.S. in 1991 and launched a new generation of gamers, but sometimes there is no beating the classics.
The console was wildly popular, with more than 700 games released for the system in the U.S., and Kerry Hays (aka “Peebs” on the Twitch streaming platform) has been working on beating every. single. one.
“We had wondered, some of these games, had anyone ever even beaten them before? They were so weird and obscure or difficult,” he said.
Peebs streaming the “Live A Live” Super Nintendo game on Twitch. Twitch hide caption
And so, Hays turned to the manuals. For those who weren’t playing a lot of video games in the ’90s, almost all of them came with a manual inside the case that had lots of helpful information.
The manual was where you would find the buttons to push and how the console works. It could also include your lore, backstory, and maybe even a map.
The manuals shows the literal buttons to push on the controller for each game. Super Mario World SNES manual hide caption
Some manuals detail the story and the world of the game. Super Mario World SNES manual hide caption
Some manuals detail the story and the world of the game.
“And if you’re really lucky, you get a little bit of a walkthrough that would tell you, like, the first 10% of the game,” Hays said.
Modern games typically have an intro cut scene and a tutorial within the first hour of the game, but older games didn’t have the time or the space to include those — hence the manuals.
Nowadays, though, a vintage game complete with a paper manual can be hard to come by. Which is why Hays collected copies of every single Super Nintendo manual in the English language.
The collection is hosted on the Internet Archive and contains upwards of 850 unique Super Nintendo manuals — and it’s all free. Hays says he’s not in it for the money.
Mario is perhaps the most famous character of the Nintendo world. BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP via Getty Images hide caption
Mario is perhaps the most famous character of the Nintendo world.
“Preservation to me is everybody has access to this stuff when they want it and where they want it,” he said. “It would be lovely to get paid, you know, a standard paycheck for this. That’s just not what it’s about.”
Luke Plunkett covers gaming for Kotaku. He wrote about Hays’ mission to collect every manual back in October 2020, and again when every English language manual was finally archived this July. He said it was the crowdsourcing aspect of Hays’ project that caught his eye.
Hays said he started his collection with about 650 scans and then turned to the internet to see what strangers could offer. Then Plunkett’s write up in Kotaku had even more people sending in submissions.
A commercial for the Super Nintendo, featuring Paul Rudd in the ’90s.
“There can be a ton more people who are like, ‘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’ll go and see if any of the games they need are there,” Plunkett said.
And as if this wasn’t enough, Hays isn’t done yet.
“Everybody keeps asking me, ‘Hey are you going to do this system and how are you going to do that system?’ And I’m like, ‘No, I think we’re going to do all systems,’ because why not?”
The myth of Sisyphus comes to mind, just pushing that boulder up the hill. But Hays says: “It’s a fun boulder though. It’s a fun boulder and you meet all sorts of interesting people all over the world.”
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