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Since a game's manual is often written before the game is complete (and since nobody reads them anyway), a completely perfect game manual is a rare sight to behold.

Sometimes plans change before the game's release, leaving the manual as perfect documentation... of the game's beta version. The manual could have downright wrong stats, causing an uproar of confusion among the players. Maybe they forgot to remove that Dummied Out item or stage from the manual list, causing many an Urban Legend of Zelda as players try to track down the hidden secrets they suggest. Yet other times, it's just a crazy typo.

But whether the writer Did Not Do the Research on the game, or if the manual itself is just an incredibly Obvious Beta, it's hilarious to see just what made it through to print. These errors are usually cherished by the fandom as So Bad It's Good.

Often a frustration of Read the Freaking Manual comments - since sometimes, people are asking because they read the manual.

Glaring errors are often fixed in updates, so these are more common in the first versions of the manual.

Examples


  • The X-Universe games made by EGOSOFT are infamous for this; X3: Reunion had a manual full of Blatant Lies and completely wrong info. X3: Terran Conflict is much more accurate, but it's still wrong on some things; it has ships with the wrong picture, and it talks about several guns that do not exist normally in the game.
  • As pictured, the Caesar III manual and its famous typo. It was quickly re-printed and removed, but not before hilarity ensued.what the hell is this shit
    • The PDF manual that comes with the GOG.com version retains the typo, interestingly enough.
  • Early copies of the Starcraft manual listed the beta versions of many game units. For example, it claimed that Mutalisks shoot acid, and queens and defilers have attacks.
    • Cutscenes still depict Mutalisks spitting acid clouds and this troper saw a mod where a Defiler hero had a decent ranged attack.
  • Doom 95, a re-release of Doom that ran under Windows instead of DOS, shipped with a manual that made many references to Doom II. Apparently, they just copied the Doom II manual, but tried (unsuccessfully) to remove all information irrelevant to the first game. For example, the Baron of Hell was described as "Like a Hell Knight, but worse," when the Hell Knight is a Doom II-only enemy.
  • Some of the manuals for Pokémon Gold and Silver claimed that happiness could be decreased by storing the Pokémon in the PC, and increased by just using any beneficial item on it. These are actually relics from Pikachu's happiness system in Pokémon Yellow, and have no effect whatsoever on happiness in the Generation II games.
    • Also, all the manuals for Generation I (Red, Blue, Yellow, Stadium...) said Ghost was super-effective against Psychic. However, due to a programming glitch, it did NO damage, contributing to the game-breaking status of the Psychic type. This glitch was fixed in Generation II.
      • Yellow's manual corrected this error by saying that Ghost had no effect on Psychic.
  • Epic had in its manual "Ion: a particle of *FILL IN LATER*."
  • In Command and Conquer Generals, the manual states that the Chinese soldiers have bayonets, when in fact, you simply deploy two of them instead. However, the bayonet part is ironically correct (they are on the character model) but irrelevant, as the the soldier units in question have no melee attack.
    • Command and Conquer Red Alert had a few examples, such as saying that some multiplayer-only weapons were available in single player and vice versa. The Expansion Pack The Aftermath also said that the M.A.D. Tank is usable by both sides and the Demolition Truck is Soviet-only, when in reality it's the other way around.
  • In the World of Warcraft game manual, it states that dwarves can choose the mage as a class (differing from most depictions of dwarves). Guess what? In the game, dwarves can't be mages. However, the Cataclysm expansion is planned to allow this race/class combo. Manuals printed as late as 2006 contained references to Plainsrunning, a Tauren ability patched out before release.
    • This was also done with Druids and the Polearm weapons up till a recent Patch Druids couldn't use them but in the manual it said they could. It actually listed "Polearm" and "Spears" as different weapon classes, saying Druids could use Spears.
      • Also in Cataclysm DWARVES ARE FINALLY ABLE TO BE MAGES! Also Worgen get an ability similar to Plainsrunning.
  • The original The Legend of Zelda manual had a reference to getting past the "invisible wall" that the old men stand behind. This is, of course, completely impossible, and drove many players insane in the days before the Internet.
  • The manual for Super Mario Bros 2 has the illustrations for Ostro and Birdo reversed.
    • Speaking of SMB2, the respective Super Mario All-Stars manual section claims that the player dies when "all [their] hearts turn white". Definitely a leftover from NES colors. This has more Mario examples.
  • Similar to the above example, the manual for Plok had the pictures for the enemies Shprouts and Gershwin reversed.
  • The manual of Serious Sam 2 lists an item that was Dummied Out from the game.
  • While not outright wrong, the .hack manual gives some ignorant advice: it tells you to take Balmung along for the final bonus boss, along with Elk who demands he be allowed to go. They seem to forget you have access to Helba, a wavemaster, hacker, and downright better character.
  • The manual for Battle Arena Toshinden 2 prints Eiji's special move list twice: once on his own page, and again on Sofia's page. This had the odd habit of moving the move lists of all of the odd-numbered characters back two pages, leaving newcomer Chaos without a list to call his own (his page shows Gaia's moves).
  • Dungeons and Dragons in one of editions has "hammer, dwarf thrower."
    • 'Spelljammer got a few mistakes (space tons, Viper ship) copied from one Sourcebook to another.
    • The 3.5 Complete Divine handbook lists Tharizdun's favored weapon as a "check toee." What it means is "Check Temple of Elemental Evil", a note to check the book to figure out what it is then update the section. Until it was clarified, gamers wondered and joked about what a check toee was.
  • The strategy guide included with every copy of Earthbound has a mistake in it. It mentions that the Gutsy Bat is located in the Sea of Eden, randomly dropped from a Kraken. This is totally untrue, the Gutsy Bat is found later in the game from a different enemy. Made even worse that the guide explicitly states how rare it is, and there only exist three of those Krakens in the area. An unsuspecting player might try in vain to obsessively reset the game, hoping in vain that one of these three Krakens drops the bat. Of course, it will never happen.
  • Capcom seems to never proofread their English translations, and this extends to the manuals as well:
    • The instruction manual for Mega Man and Bass has many Dub Name Change holdovers, like calling Auto "Lightot."
    • As did the manual for Mega Man Legends 2, with Von Bluecher and Klaymoor listed under their original Japanese names (Von Muller and Bancosus, respectively).
    • The NA Mega Man X 5 manual lists the bosses under their Gratuitous English names (Dark Necrobat, Spike Rosered, etc.) instead of the Guns N' Roses-inspired Theme Naming (Dark Dizzy, Axle [sic] the Red, etc.) used in the game.
    • The Xtreme 2 manual uses utterly wrong transliterations for the names of every character mentioned except for X and Zero. In particular, Iris was already an established character of some importance, and her name is both a real name and a real word--there was really no excuse for mangling it into "Aillis."
    • Mega Man Zero's manual had a page dedicated to explaining that 'these characters' are Zero's fellow Resistance members. It also had a page full of art of some of the game's bosses. If you think those two pages should probably not be one and the same, then congratulations! You're officially smarter than whoever put that manual together.
    • The characters page in the manual for Network Transmission appears to have been translated directly from the Japanese version by either Altavista Babelfish, or someone given a Japanese-English dictionary without knowing any Japanese nor anything about the game. They managed to misspell several characters' names, mention names of other supposed characters who don't actually exist (common nouns in the Japanese text seem to have been misinterpreted as proper names), and use a picture of Bug Style MegaMan for Chaud. And Bug Style doesn't even appear in this game.
    • The manual for Mega Man Battle Network 4 occasionally forgets the Dub Name Change and reverts "Mega Buster" back to the original "Rockbuster". The manual for the Red Sun version also has several pictures of version-specific elements from the Blue Moon version while the text still describes the Red Sun counterparts, leading to hilariously mismatched pictures and captions.
  • While not a manual per se, the original strategy guides for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 have several screenshots of menus that were obviously beta screens. The Deathstreaks one, for instance, has an extra deathstreak and a different image for the copycat entry.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog's instruction manual, there is a reference to a Dummied Out item in the special stages: an orb that granted an extra life.
  • TZAR: The Burden of the Crown didn't mention that you had to right-click to order units around. While obvious now, a person arriving from Command and Conquer or other left-click interface games will have trouble - especially when the only mention of the right-click interface is to state you don't understand how RTS games work. In other news, it listed every single unit, but didn't mention strengths and weaknesses of a unit until a small passage at the end (which was still an incomplete picture.)
  • The Brady Games manual for Kingdom Hearts II had a chest in the Hundred Acre Woods that was moved to a different part of the area. Not a large error, but enough to freak out the completionist who can be made to think there's an invisible chest...
    • Speaking of Kingdom Hearts, the Brady Games guide for the first game mistakenly called Sephiroth's signature attack "Sin Harvest" instead of "Heartless Angel". It took until II (and a change in Sephiroth's VA) to get it through the heads of people not convinced.
  • The manual for the NES version of Double Dragon claims that Abobo "likes to throw bombs", but the only bomb-throwing enemies in the game are the dynamite-wielding Williams. In reality, this is a mistranslated reference to an unused move for Abobo called the genbaku nage or "atomic suplex" (Abobo doesn't actually use it, but animation frames were still included in the game's data). The manual also gives different inputs for the Spin Kick and Elbow Punch than the ones used in the actual game and spells an enemy's name (Lopar) differently from the actual game (Rowper).
    • The manual for the Master System version switched the names of Jeff and Machine Gun Willy in the enemy list (compare the English manual with the Japanese one). It is debatable as to whether this was an actual misprint or a deliberate change, since the name "Willy" is arguably better-suited for a head-swapped Evil Counterpart of Billy and Jimmy than "Jeff".
    • The manual for the Genesis version (the actual game being more or less a straight port of the arcade version) used the plot of the NES version as reference, not realizing that the NES version had a different plot due to changes made in that specific version. As a result the final boss, normally known as Machine Gun Willy in other versions, is mistakenly identified as Billy's twin brother Jimmy, despite looking nothing alike. The Player 2 character, the real Jimmy, is given the name "Jake" instead.
    • While not as extreme of a screw-up as the Genesis version, the manual for the Game Boy version used the same plot blurb as the NES version, claiming that Jimmy Lee is the final boss. While the main game mode in the Game Boy version is 1-Player only, it ends with Machine Gun Willy as the final boss. The only time Jimmy appears in the game is as an opponent in the optional 2-Player versus mode.
  • The manual for the original Suikoden talks about the game using a Magic Points system for spellcasting. It doesn't; it uses Vancian Magic, where each spell can only be cast a certain number of times, independent of any other spells you might still have available.
  • Spiderweb Software has an irritating habit of keeping the stat names and descriptions in the in-game documentation the same from game to game, but making ever-so-slight changes to what the stats actually do. Mid-series Geneforge was the worst at this, requiring liberal use of Game FAQs to figure out how to boost certain resistances.
  • Pathfinder splatbooks have their own version of this problem, usually as a result of multiple design teams and lack of correspondence. It's not uncommon for an early chapter to mention a feat or spell that was later renamed or dropped entirely.
  • The official strategy guide for Silent Hill 1 was obviously written based on a beta version, as it remarks on the sneakiness of the lizard-like enemies that populate the sewers and tells you to "rely on that lovely sound coming from your radio" to help avoid them. It'd be pretty good advice for the finished version too, if only the radio still worked in the sewers.
  • It's hard to get any worse than the NES version of Action 52 has a manual which sometimes describes completely different games or features that weren't in most games.
  • It's hard to get worse than the above example, but not impossible. There's a video on YouTube showing someone leafing through a manual, every page of which reads "This Page Intentionally Left Blank."
  • UESP tells you not to use the manual for Daggerfall because it was based off of an alpha or beta and lists information.
  • The instruction manual for the NES version of Dragon Quest IV has got quite a lot of misprints. For example, it is claimed that Maya and Meena's (Mara and Nara's) father was "Loro", a weaponsmith who "died of unknown causes" ("Loro" was actually alchemist Mahabala/Edgar who got murdered by Balzack); that the Powder Keg/Gunpowder Jar would have the Chancellor "lead [the player] to Keeleon" in a castle (the castle was already named Keeleon Castle/Palais de Leon, and the "boss" is not Keeleon, but rather Balzack); and that Tom Foolery/Panon is a "she" who is "a brilliant star" and "is good to have in dark places" (Tom/Panon is not a woman, but he's rather a comedian, and we don't know if he's "good to have in dark places" or not, but he is more of a Joke Character than a helpful person).
  • A story sometimes told to demonstrate why you can't find-and-replace without also rereading the material is of a gamebook which, between the first edition and the second, decided that "mages" would become "wizards." Unfortunately, since they used find-and-replace, this also affected all words with the string "mage" in it, leading to items dealing points of "dawizard."
  • Seventh Sea characters can take a "destiny spread," an optional set of rules that grants them some character background and either advantages or drawbacks, depending on the mood of the Random Number God when the character is created. On of the Destiny Spreads from the Avalon sourcebook grants a "1 point Druidic Secrets Advantage," despite the fact that no such Advantage exists.
  • Parodied in Stinkoman 20 X 6, which describes the Level Nine boss (a robot gangster) as a "speedy squid". There actually is a squid enemy in that level, but its picture is missing from the manual altogether.
  • This is parodied in some of the games where some of the buttons on the controller are unused:
    • Earthworm Jim's SNES manual claims pressing X "Turns off Mrs. Schultz's porch light in Germany. So quit pressing it!"
      • This even becomes a Brick Joke in the sequel - one of the trivia questions in The Villi People is "Where does Mrs. Schultz live?"
    • The second Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles GB version's manual claiming that the Select button "was used to shoot missiles, but Shredder's goons broke it so it no longer works".
  • The manual for the NES version of Strider says that Hiryu retired from the Strider organization "after eliminating the sister of a mad A-grade Strider." In reality, Hiryu killed his own sister (Mariya), who was an A-grade Strider who was brainwashed.
  • Whereas some NES games were misleadingly advertised with screenshots from the graphically superior arcade version, the manual of Athena used some screenshots from the NES version... of Spelunker.
  • The manual translation for the Turbografx version of Monster Lair screws up the story, stating that alien invaders have acquired the "Legendary Weapon of Complete Destruction", when actually it's the Legendary Sword and Armor from Wonder Boy in Monster Land that they stole; it also calls the hero Adam instead of Leo.
  • Similar to the Birdo/Ostro mixup in Super Mario Bros. 2, the names of the bosses Cruiser Tetron/Tetran (the core boss with the four rotating arms) and Intruder (the fire dragon) were switched in the US manual for Life Force.
  • The first Diablo has never been translated in French, but a manual translating every dialogs and quest texts have been published. It includes Tremayne line (a Dummied Out NPC).
  • The PC adventure game KGB was released in Eurpe under the name Conspiracy. The manual was thus localized by doing a search-and-replace to change all instances of "KGB" to "CONSPIRACY". This had... predictable results.