Inside the EarthBound strategy guide, one of the rarest Nintendo collectibles

We’ve already linked you to a lovely collection of Super Nintendo game manuals that Nintendo uploaded in honor of the SNES Classic Edition’s launch. But it’s important to highlight that EarthBound’s strategy guide is included in the mix — as it’s long been coveted by fans of the role-playing game, still fetching high prices because of its extreme rarity.

Here’s the story behind this cool collectible: When EarthBound came West in 1995, it carried a higher price tag than most other games on the console. For $70, buyers received not just the cartridge, but a full-sized player’s guide — a book that ran 135 pages-long. Even cooler was that this guidebook included some scratch-and-sniff stickers in the back, another special piece of memorabilia for Nintendo fans.

the earthbound physical set

the earthbound physical set

The complete, original EarthBound box and all of its content. Umbrae/GitHub

But as those same fans know well, EarthBound failed to make waves with buyers who hadn’t quite warmed to the RPG genre, or who were ready to move on from the late-in-life SNES. Nintendo reportedly sold less than 150,000 copies, which isn’t a huge hit, considering the added manufacturing costs from the guidebook.

This has led to the wildly in-depth strategy guide becoming the EarthBound diehards’ holy grail of artwork, strategies and, above all else, nostalgia. Not only does it have tips and tricks, but it has a “travel guide,” which is a funny and totally engrossing take on the classic walkthrough. Instead of drily charting where to go and when, the book introduces players to the game’s various locations through newspaper clippings, shopping tips and some beautiful character art.

earthbound manual - travel guide

earthbound manual - travel guide

An example of one of the EarthBound guide’s awesome “travel guide” pages. Nintendo

Used copies of the physical edition of the guide routinely go for more than $100 on eBay even now, 22 years later. It’s especially wild that this remains the case, as Nintendo actually uploaded an optimized digital version of the guidebook back in 2013, when EarthBound launched on Wii U virtual console.

But the file that’s available through the Super Nintendo Classic Edition portal is a much more legible recreation of that classic manual. There aren’t any stickers included, sure, but printing out this file is a lot cheaper than buying the book from eBay. If nothing else, it’s a spectacular glimpse into a time when Nintendo actually took a chance on the Mother series. And what a chance it took!

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