->Well, I've traveled for too much time
->to see you spend one more dime
->on stupid strategy guides
->when the answer wasn't inside
->Just figure it out you dummy
->Then you won't have to spend nine ninety-nine
->-- '''Star Salzman''', ''VideoGame/MegaManX'' - [[http://www.ocremix.org/remix/OCR01149/ Dreams Come True]]

'''Strategy guides''' are different than {{Walkthrough}}s in that they provide a portable, professional, and easily accessible hard copy while playing. However, they are more likely to avoid giving outright spoilers and [[{{Munchkin}} munchkin-like]] hints, preferring to suggest ideas rather than spoiling the playing aspect. Aside from average gaming information, they also usually contain:

* Several splash pages highlighting the party members.
* Maps across areas and dungeons, with associated locations of items.
* Stats and strategies of bosses.
* A back index of items, customizable stuff, and a bestiary of enemies.
* Some bonus content, such a wall map or poster.

Strategy guides are typically based on the pre-release version of a game, which often leads to blunders. In one infamous example, an official strategy guide for the Dreamcast version of ''Half-Life'' was released, but the game was subsequently cancelled. Maps in the official strategy guide for ''Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas'' contained Rampage icons that don't exist in the final version.

Because they are generally released alongside the game and can not be updated, they almost never contain any gameplay tips, tricks, or glitches that are discovered by players post-release. However, in recent years, many strategy guide publishers have provided free updates and corrections on their websites.

Due to the idea of competition with free walkthroughs, official strategy guides are extremely prominent now, usually containing nice art or extras to justify their price, which is usually around $15-$20 USD. Many companies will sell it along with the associated game at a lowered price.

Some appropriately complicated games will have thicker guides on newsprint paper with only black ink to offset costs.

It is quite unfortunate to note that some games, [[RevenueEnhancingDevices intentionally]] or [[GuideDangIt unintentionally]], ''require'' a guide to complete.
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!!Example:

* Some of the strategy guides for Creator/{{Sierra}}'s old {{Adventure Game}}s even included novelizations of the stories in each of the games, along with the traditional walkthroughs.
** In [[Literature/TheKingsQuestCompanion one particular book]] that covers the first SIX games as a walkthrough, the events of the ''VideoGame/KingsQuest'' series up to that point are novelized. There the phrase "[[KleptomaniacHero Take everything that isn't nailed down, and if it is, check for loose nails or boards]]" is used by the main character; extremely revealing for the genre.
** An alternate collection of guides for some of the earlier ''VideoGame/KingsQuest'', ''VideoGame/SpaceQuest'', and ''VideoGame/PoliceQuest'' series featured invisible ink and came with a yellow highlighter. The questions for each puzzle were in normal ink and you could highlight the answers conveniently preventing you from spoiling puzzles or story lines that you wanted to figure out on your own.
** ''Space Quest IV'' went meta by featuring the "Space Quest IV Hintbook" as an item ''in the game itself''. It featured a few bits of info needed to progress further in the game, but was mostly a [[http://lparchive.org/LetsPlay/Space%20Quest/chapter26.html send-up of strategy guides]].
** Sierra actually sold more hint books for ''VideoGame/LeisureSuitLarry'' than it did games. This probably had a lot to do with the cover art on the hint books.
* The PlayStation2 version of one of ''Myst III: Exile'' bundled a "hint guide" into the instruction booklet.
*** The ''VideoGame/TexMurphy'' games went one step further than that by building the hint guide into the game itself. Each incremental hint cost a certain number of points (gained by solving puzzles) and the system was structured so that it was impossible to "look ahead".
** ''VideoGame/EarthBound'' was also sold with the Player's Guide included.
** The original version of ''Myst'' had, among other things, an envelope labelled "Open '''only''' if in dire need..."
** ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaALinkToThePast'' came with a similar insert - a small, sealed pamphlet called "Sahasrahla's Secrets."
* Enix's ''Main/IllusionOfGaia'' included a full walkthrough of the game as the majority of the game manual. This is only fair, given that many of the Red Jewels were GuideDangIt, LostForever, or both.
* The Prima strategy guides for major ''Franchise/{{Pokemon}}'' games since ''VideoGame/PokemonDiamondAndPearl'' (and Nintendo's ''Diamond and Pearl'' guides, back when Nintendo still published guides) are split into two for each title, a "beat-the-game" guide and a post-storyline/"catch-em-all" guide. The exception is ''Platinum'', checking in at 624 pages and having both move data and a full walkthrough.
* The Magazine/NintendoPower strategy guide for the original NES ''VideoGame/{{Final Fantasy|I}}'' contained a number of gaffs, including suggesting strategies not implemented in the final game (the Giant Sword wasn't more effective against giants, for instance), and labeling the contents of every chest without noting that some were "linked" and contained the same item that could only be gotten once.
** The swords were intended to work as explained in the guide, bad programming prevented this.
** On the other hand, the guide did specifically point out the area where you encounter a group of giants every step, something which is often thought to have been a programming mistake.
** Similarly, the official guide for the ''Franchise/FinalFantasy Anthology'' rerelease of ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyV'' was next to useless because it seemed written by and for {{Munchkin}}s. The "strategy" for most bosses was along the lines of "Have everyone master the Ninja class, then change them to Dragoons, give everyone two of the most powerful spear in the game, and jump," rather than practical advice.
* The instruction manual for the American release of ''Dragon Warrior III'' was largely a strategy guide that literally walked you to the final boss, spoilers and all, if you read it the whole way through.
* The Prima strategy guide for the Gamecube remake of ''VideoGame/SonicAdventure'' updated the information for the bonus missions and unlockables, but the information for the connectivity feature of the GameBoyAdvance was incorrect. Instead of having information on the Tiny Chao Garden, the guide instead discusses an "Adventure Walk," which did not appear in the released versions of the handheld games.
* As mentioned above, some Strategy Guides avoid the pure-spoiler effect by suggesting courses of action. One of the best was for ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 1}}'': Each page that had a 'spoiler' or other solution to an obstacle/puzzle/objective would lead you to the conclusion by providing a series of questions prompting you for a part of the puzzle. As you read down the page, the answers got more and more specific until finally all was revealed. This was muchly appreciated because sometimes one DOES just want a little hint to help them out.
* The strategy guide for the old-school TBS ''MasterOfMagic'' was a massive tome with information about every unit, spell, and item in the game, along with page after page of data and charts detailing the math involved in combat. This was pre-Internet (or at least pre-GameFAQs) so that information was largely unavailable otherwise.
* The official ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIX'' guide was amazingly sparse. It was very general and less than 100 pages. Why was it so empty? Well, it had several codes that would reveal "secret information" if you joined Squaresoft's website and entered them. Yes, they made an awkward competitor to GameFAQs.
* Doublejump guides tend to be less strategy guides and more full blown compendiums. Complete listings of characters, enemies, weapons, maps, secret fights, ect. No inch of the game is left uncovered. The actual walkthrough parts are written vaguely enough so nothing will be spoiled (such as boss names), and full blown spoilers are in their own section and printed upside down to prevent accidental viewing.
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXI'' had a Bradygames strategy guide that became notorious for two reasons: It started becoming out-of-date due to the constantly changing structure on an {{MMORPG}}, and some of the job advice presented was laughably bad. Yes, a Monk/Red Mage could use a sort of [[FlamingSword Flaming Fist]] with Enspells, but in an experience points party against monsters several levels higher than you, a half-level Enhancing Skill will cause hits to land for 0 extra damage instead of actual additional damage. Brady probably realized the futility of the whole deal with this guide, and hasn't released an updated version since, although the release of ''WorldOfWarcraft'' may be more responsible for it.
* The author of the ''[[VideoGame/LunarTheSilverStar Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete]]'' and ''[[VideoGame/LunarEternalBlue Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete]]'' guides knew how important it was for a walkthrough to be littered with dirty jokes and all the pictures to have funny captions under them. But most importantly the guides had all the bromides found in the game in the back in convenient sticker form. The second guide even came in hardcover and had little comics in the back.
** The strategy guides for the original Sega CD releases (and probably the modern versions too) were co-written by Zach Meston, head writer of the games.
* The strategy guide for ''Riven: The Sequel to Myst'' contains multiple formats for their hint delivery, the most subtle just outlining what a puzzle appears to involve visually, the most dramatic being a fully-fledged narrative of a person stuck on the five islands and solving the puzzles to get the Good End.
* ''WorldOfWarcraft'' provides particularly pointless ones, as each new patch makes the guide increasingly inaccurate or incomplete. Also, because there is no circumstance where you would be able to play the game where you wouldn't also have access to free, more accurate, and probably more in-depth online guides.
* The first edition of the Prima guide for VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIVOblivion states that there are 10 Ayleid Statues for the Collector quest, then immediately lists 11 locations.
* Fangamer's ''VideoGame/{{Mother 3}}'' [[http://handbook.fangamer.com/ handbook]] is truly an awesome sight to behold.
* The Prima Official guide for ''VideoGame/TalesOfVesperia'' is known for lacking fairly helpful information and listing non-existent Titles for characters.
* The strategy guide for ''SidMeiersAlphaCentauri'' is notable for including an index not just for itself but for the original rule book that came with the game.
* The official Players' Guide for ''VideoGame/StarFox64'' is chock full of precious information, including posters depicting blueprints of the vehicles used. Several elements used in later games (Beltino Toad for example) are first mentioned in this guidebook.
* A particularly good strategy guide for ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOcarinaOfTime'' described the proper actions as if you were reading a story about Link's exploits.
** The guide for ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaALinkToThePast'' was written similarly, and was also interspersed with various factoids about the locations you could visit in-game and the people of Hyrule. (The guide for the GBA version was much more generic in comparison.)
* There's a [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jluv2HxFEqs&feature=related strategy guide]] available for ''[[WebAnimation/AwesomeSeries Awesome]] [[VideoGame/NinjaGaiden Gaiden]]'', but [[NintendoHard even he can't help you]].
* While they've gotten ''slightly'' better about this, Prima guides tended to be full of errata, particularly their ''AnimalCrossing'' (GameCube) guide, which had ''tons'' of misplaced screenshots and incorrect dates and times. Their ''VideoGame/StarFoxAdventures'' and ''VideoGame/Kirby64TheCrystalShards'' guides weren't even ''finished,'' ending before they could tell you how to fight the final boss (and in the case of ''Crystal Shards'', claiming that the TrueFinalBoss is a "[[LightIsNotGood friendly]] [[BloodyMurder inhabitant]] [[EldritchAbomination of Shiver Star]]", among [[BlatantLies other insanity]].).
* A particularly good strategy guide company was Versus Books. Their guides were basically totally complete walkthroughs. Admittedly, they left very little to the imagination and basically told you how to do everything, but they did it very effectively (and usually with a good sense of humor). They had a tendency to list everything you could get at parts of the game and tell you how to get them, like extra powerups and such. Their MetroidPrime guide was even completely streamlined, having you collect the Chozo Artifacts before you even needed to (or even scan their locations). They usually had a checklist in the back of the guide as well. Their Ocarina of Time guide even had custom illustrated maps. Sadly, they appear to have gone out of business.
** Their guide for ''VideoGame/PokemonRedAndBlue'' had a ''glitch section'', where they explained several of the game's infamous glitches, from harmless ones like fishing in statues to game breaking ones like Missing No. They also released a guide for ''VideoGame/PokemonGoldAndSilver'', and both guides were notable for suggesting specific Pokemon and moves for various situations, such as beating Gym Leaders and the Elite Four. Compare them to more recent guides which usually just recommend types and don't go much deeper than that. Both guides also had brief summaries of every single Pokemon evolutionary line, usually highlighting their strengths and telling players whether they were worth using or not, all in good humor. The Pokedex section at the end of the guides also featured articles for what they felt were the best Pokemon of each type in the games.
* A relatively new player on the strategy guide scene is [=FuturePress=], a company based in Germany that does guides for the European market. The company releases guides fairly infrequently compared to some of their competitors, but when they do a guide they really go all out, with some of the highest quality guides in the industry. Of particular note is their strategy guide for ''VideoGame/{{Bayonetta}}'', a 400-page hardcover tome with detailed strategies for getting to HundredPercentCompletion in addition to a regular walkthrough. The guide also contains details on every single enemy in the game and every one of Bayonetta's weapons and attacks. The gorgeous guide has received stellar reviews from pretty much everyone who's read it, which... is not very many people since the only version of the guide is the hardcover Collector's Edition with a limited print run. In addition, the guide is a case of NoExportForYou for Americans and Canadians, since Brady Games (which later decided ''not'' to release a Bayonetta guide at all) held exclusivity rights over the North American strategy guide market. Combine all of those factors and you now have a guide which is selling for upwards of '''[[CrackIsCheaper $250]]!!!''' on Amazon (and people are indeed buying it for that price, though you can also find unwrapped copies on Ebay for slightly less if you're lucky). The success and rave reviews for the Bayonetta guide convinced [=FuturePress=] to begin selling guides to the North American market, and their ''VideoGame/{{Vanquish}}'', ''{{Killzone}} 3'', and ''VideoGame/{{Portal 2}}'' guides have all been released in North America to rave reviews.
* Fan-made class handbooks exist for DungeonsAndDragons fans for every edition from 3.5 onward. They can be found at Gleemax, [[Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick GiantITP]], and Podcast/BrilliantGameologists (the latter having a subforum dedicated to handbooks). These are more min-max related than guides here, but what do you expect from a tabletop game? Links to them are being added to the Class Page.
* The old school Nintendo Games Secrets series by Rusel [=DeMaria=]. Apart from the TotallyRadical tone, the books had pretty good walkthroughs, cheat codes, boss strategies, pictures, a little humor, and one book even had a mini-comic crossing over half the games listed in the book. They were much nicer than the competing How to Win or Ultimate Unauthorized series
* ''[[http://www.video-game-ephemera.com/038.htm The Pigskin Player's Handbook]]'' is a rare example of an official strategy guide for an ArcadeGame.
* Prima Games released a fairly decent guide for ''GranTurismo 4''. However, automaker Peugeot is almost completely absent from the guide. They actually got worse with the guide for ''ForzaMotorsport 3''. Lamborghini and every make associated with General Motors is missing.

!!Non-VideoGame examples:

* When the toys infiltrate Al's Toy Barn in ''WesternAnimation/ToyStory2'', Rex finds a strategy guide for the ''Buzz Lightyear'' game he was playing at the start of the movie, and starts complaining to the other toys about a GuideDangIt.
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