I’ve actually briefly written about this guide before on the site, but in 1996 a book was released in Japan called Super Mario 64 Complete Clear Guide Book, which wasn’t just a strategy guide but also a collection of developer commentary and photos of custom-made 3D dioramas, crafted just for the guide.
While it’s hardly a lost relic—you can find copies all over eBay for $200-300 if you’re serious about reading it in the flesh—most people reading this will have never seen the book, or if you have, will have only seen a select few pages of it. That simply will not do, so it’s great to see that someone (CFC’s Dave Shevlin) has taken the time to scan and upload the entire book at a very useful 600dpi.
I cannot stress how amazing the dioramas are, and what a genius idea they were for representing a 3D space—still a novelty back then!—on a 2D page. Just look at this:
Wonderful. And they just keep going on like that. The book is entirely in Japanese, but translations have been made of certain parts; like this interview with Miyamoto where he talks about his kid getting a chance to play the game during development:
Truth be told, we did something with Mario 64 that we don’t usually do: we had children playtest it. We had a row of about 10 middle schoolers, and had them play around on the King Bob-omb’s stage for half a day, while we observed from behind.
My child was one of them, actually… but seeing him try dozens of times, over and over, to get up this unclimbable hill, as a parent I couldn’t help but think, “Geez, does this kid have any brains?” (laughs) Afterwards we asked the children what they thought of the game, and they said it was fun, and that they wanted to play it again.
Up to now, I think there’s been this image with games that if you can’t beat it, it’s not a fun or good game, right? That’s a philosophy we’ve stuck to at Nintendo, too, but I figured that if a game was this fun to play even if you weren’t getting anywhere, well, it must be alright. Until this game, I was very skeptical about something like this being fun.
OK that’s enough highlights, go flick through the whole thing yourself here.