In a trend beginning with the release of Twilight Princess on the GameCube and Wii, Nintendo released a hardcover Collector’s Edition guide alongside their standard, paperback, magazine-esque guide. In a peculiar move, they also released a third guide, called the Deluxe Edition. I’m not 100% sure how Deluxe it is, but it sure as fuck is big.
Before TP, guides were much more simple and direct, offering a straight walkthrough of the games with every collectible listed in sporadically placed columns and blurbs along the way. They usually had a glossary, offering short hints and tips to find secrets or items, and redirecting to other pages for in-depth information. The Collector’s edition guides marked a great change; information is listed and presented much more uniformly, with specific sections and data given their own sections to really expound upon it. The CE’s would also have a ton of the concept artwork from the game as well as developer, creator and artist commentary on everything from enemies to mechanics to the feeling of creating it. To put the cherry on top, each one comes with some sort of collectible, be it a breathtaking lithograph, a metal wingcrest bookmark, or my personal favorite, artistic cloth-printed maps suitable for framing. The CE was much more than just the same walkthrough with a pretty cover and gold-edged pages (although it was also that), it was an experience to geek over as you geeked out over the game. I tended to be as excited about getting the guides as I was to get the games. But this time is a little different...
When I picked up my Breath of the Wild Collector’s Edition Guide from GameStop along with a WiiU copy of the game, there were open (in this case meaning sitting with shrink wrap removed) guides of both the normal paperback and hardcover CE guides on the counter for perusal. I was extremely surprised to see such a busy, colorful cover, as the CE guides up to this point followed a certain formula; the wingcrest, or a prominent symbol from the game (I.E. Majora’s Mask for Majora’s Mask) and a border representative of the art style of the game. This was a bit of a disappointment for me (I’m one for uniformity, and these guides look marvelous next to each other on a shelf). Careful not to spoil anything for myself, I opened the CE to its index, marveling at the beautiful artwork-on-black presentation route they chose. Acknowledgements, Intro, Walkthrough, separate sections for collectibles, artwork and bonuses. This was the feeling I was looking for, that I was getting almost reference-section library information on this game.
Since I was still in line and the tone of the lady at the register gave me alert that I’d probably be in line for a while, I decided to flip through the “regular” guide, see what those poor, poor souls that didn’t get here soon enough to snatch the guide I was lucky to reserve would be stuck with. What I learned was pretty much the perfect karmic response to the way I was thinking; it was apparently page-for-page the exact same guide. It even had the same bonus poster with all the Korok locations. The only differences were the cover (which, as I said was a bit of a disappointment to me personally) and an insert with a code to download the official digital guide, which to me is pointless because if I need to get on the internet to use the guide, I’ll just use the internet.
It was a bit of a buzzkill, but I was happy with it. I marveled at it a few times, reading only parts that I’d passed to see if I did stuff for puzzles “right” and consulted the map for it’s perfect Korok coverages until ZeldaDungeon.net got their incredible interactive map up and running, then shelved the book \, only bringing it out to show guests or indulge visually in the extensive concept art coverage. Then, on a search for a proper Zelda case for my newly acquired Switch, I saw it; with a black-and-gold cover adorned with the Sheikah Eye symbol in a style reminiscent of the guides I’d grown to love so much stood a targeted ad for a guide I hadn’t seen on store shelves. The ad read “Breath of the Wild: Deluxe Edition Guide” and I nearly shat myself. My trousers got in close danger of unrightful browning for three reasons; it was absolutely gorgeous, I hadn’t heard about or seen it anywhere, and finally it was priced at freakin’ $79.99. I wanted it like Hillary wanted the presidency, but just wasn’t as willing to wreck myself over it. I saved it to that Amazon folder we all have, the list of things we’ll get the moment we’re exceeding wealthy, and did my best to put it out of my mind for as long as AdSense would allow me. Meaning I was seeing ads for it every day, now. Fast forward to last week.
I see an ad on a FaceBook collectible trading group I’m on. A man has the guide and a list of things he’d trade for it. I’m excited to see a couple of collectibles I was thinking of selling/trading, and make an offer. For a couple anime figurines, an aesthetically broken Amiibo and $10, the guide was mine. We meet, and the first thing I notice is that this sucker is BIG.
When I get home, I decide to shelf it for the moment and see what makes it special, but much to my surprise, I CAN’T! It’s too big for the large bookshelves I own to be stood up normally. I decide instead to open it and check it out immediately, and am surprised at what I see.
Like the similarities between the Original and Collector’s Edition, the resemblance is uncanny. Page-for-page they’re the exact same book, only this time it’s bigger, ditching the 8 1/2" x 11" format for a massive 11 1/2 by 15 format. It also features a built in ribbon bookmark (notably missing from the 8 1/2" x 11" Collector’s Edition) and the EXACT same poster, only, again much bigger.
It’s a little odd, owning the same book in two radically different formats, both aimed at collector’s wallets, but it also feels kind of right for me. The CE fits the shelf properly, and the size makes it appear to fit the rest of my collection, but the DE matches it aesthetically, and can’t really fit with them. For now, the Deluxe Edition will make a great coffee table piece, it’s beautiful cover matching the growing Zelda aesthetic of the room and offering the occasional info on my seemingly never-ending quest to collect all the Koroks and open all the chests in the game. I’ll worry about where it’ll fit on my shelf when it’s time to shelve it, most likely the release of the next Zelda guide.
Did you pick a guide up? See it as an unnecessary extravagance in an age of freely-available information? Or perhaps you got all 3 and have your own thoughts. Hit up the comments below. And for my next entry...