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Spoiled by the Manual

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Sometimes a Video Game instruction manual, in the progress of describing gameplay controls or mechanics, will reveal information that was otherwise intended to be a surprise for the player as they play the game.

For example, an illustration may depict characters that join the player's party late in the game, describe enemies or bosses they may fight in a particular area, or discuss how to control the player's Global Airship.

This is related to Trailers Always Spoil, Spoiler Opening, and Spoiler Cover. See Interface Spoiler where the spoiling is done by an interface element instead of a manual.

This is a spoiler trope. Here be spoilers!


  • Super Smash Bros. has the following:
  • In the instructions for Mario Power Tennis, there is a pic of the character selection screen. With every secret character unlocked.
  • The European reprinted manuals for a number of Mega Drive games were more complete but would often spoil details like the name or layout of later levels or enemy types, including bosses. For example:
  • The series Final Fantasy has a few:
    • The manual of the SNES North American release of Final Fantasy IV - in the equipment section in the back, it lists the classes of all the characters, to designate what each can equip. Particularly blatant in the cases of Edge and Fusoya, since you know there's more game coming after each Disc-One Final Dungeon because you haven't met a ninja or Lunarian yet.
    • One of the screenshots on Final Fantasy V Advance's back of the box has Krile (who doesn't appear in person until well into the game) and a screenshot spoiling The Very Definitely Final Dungeon.
    • Final Fantasy VI came with a physical map of the World Map (both of them), with every dungeon labeled.
    • Final Fantasy X manual contains information about three party members and four aeons that aren't present early on and whose eventual appearances are supposed to be surprising at varying degrees.
    • Final Fantasy XII explains that Basch and Ashe will join your party, even though they're both supposed to be dead after the prologue.
    • The Final Fantasy XIII game manual reveals that Lightning's party will be joined by The Sixth Ranger Fang and land on Pulse. But then again, they aren't very big spoilers, as it's been in every trailer and review.
  • The manual for The World Ends with You discusses the controls for all three of your partners, somewhat spoiling the "Your Princess Is in Another Castle!" moment where it looks like the game's over after week 1 because you haven't even met one of them yet. It also means Beat joining the Reapers has less of an impact since you know he'll be a partner later.
    • The "main characters" page also flat out says that Rhyme is Beat's sister, something that is supposed to be revealed only a little before Beat becomes your partner.
  • Tales of Symphonia's manual spoils the identities of four eventual party members, and eagle-eyed gamers can spot clues that there is another world involved.
  • Tales of the Abyss's American manual for the PS2 version spoils a major development of the protagonist Luke simply with the cover - the cover of the manual was also the cover of the game. Not only that, it initially shows Luke's character page with him having long hair, but we already saw him with short hair. Later pages, explaining the status screen show Luke with short hair and flat out calling him Luke Fon Fabre. So already, the emotional impact of the scene of Luke cutting his hair short to symbolize his will to change is ruined simply by buying the game and looking at the manual. Incidentally, the Japanese manual did not spoil this. The manual was redone for the Nintendo 3DS version of the game and omits the spoiler.
  • The manual for Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty reveals the game's use of a Decoy Protagonist.
  • The American manual of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 doesn't tell the player about Death Egg Zone on its level list, but reveals what Dr. Eggman's Giant Mech/Death Egg Robot looks like on page 4.
  • Golden Sun: The Lost Age sets up three members of the hero's four-member party, and his alliance with Alex, an Adept of the fourth element... who is not with them on the box art. A random sailor you encounter very briefly and don't see again until almost halfway through the game is. Hint, hint. Also spoilered in the manual proper when it includes instructions on how to navigate with Piers's ship, and the map and relationship chart that come with the game also spell out that Piers is playable and Alex is not.
    • Also subverted, in that the Feelies make a big fuss about Sheba's power of precognition... and it never even comes up in the game, aside from one line insisting it's her destiny to travel with Felix (and she later admits she was lying about that).
    • Speaking of Feelies, a similar relationship chart was created for Golden Sun: Dark Dawn and pulled (and leaked on the Internet) at the last minute because it spilled the beans on Matthew's ancestry... and Amiti's, which was supposed to be a big unresolved plot point!
  • The manual for The Legend of Dragoon spoils the fact that Lloyd is a Wingly. Not that it's hard to figure out, but it's not actually revealed until Disc 3. It also spoils the complete endgame party.
  • Mega Man X5, the intended Grand Finale of the X series (it was supposed to lead into Zero until Capcom went ahead and made X6 without Keiji Inafune's knowledge or consent, forcing him to change around the plot), had Zero dying at its close... for good. In spite of this, X6 brought him back with the half-baked explanation that Zero was in hiding, repairing himself (although Zero notes in a discussion with Dr. Light that he has no knowledge of who really repaired him while in his near-death state). The fact that Zero was alive was spoiled by the game manual speaking of another playable character, a "resurrected Hunter" whose profile, weaponry, and skillset fits Zero to the bill. Never mind that the back of the game case has the words "Zero is missing" in big, honking letters.
    • Lampshaded in the case of Mega Man X: Command Mission, where Colonel Redips's name was intentionally misspelled as "Rideps" in the manual to prevent giving away the plot twist that he was The Mole (by disguising as "Spider") and the ultimate Big Bad.
  • Tecmo's Deception has the manual give away the fact that Fiana is an acquirable summoned monster.
  • The manuals of Command & Conquer and Red Alert give you the full tech-tree, including the factions' super-weapons. It thus doesn't come as much of a surprise to the player that in the campaigns, Nod develops nukes, GDI has a Kill Sat, the Iron Curtain project is about temporarily making things invulnerable and the Allies develops a teleporter. The Soviets developing nukes in Red Alert is given a partial spoiler — you know the game has nukes, since they are in the manual... but the manual shows the multiplayer tech-tree, in which both factions have nukes, so which side develops them first in the course of the campaigns is still left open.
  • Subverted in Ghost Trick. The manual is carefully written to never make any claims regarding your character's real identity, ensuring that it is completely accurate by omission even after the reveal.
  • NightFire has the general plot of every mission (and pretty much the entire plot of the game) spoiled with a quick look at the manual.
  • Subverted twice in Star Control 2.
    • The page describing the ship's manifest displays artifacts required to complete the game, such as an Illwrath cloaking device. No such item exists in the final game.
    • In a broader sense, the manual is written to give the impression that you'll be rejoining and resuming the war from the previous game, hiding the fact that the war was lost nearly twenty years ago.
    • Played straight with the star map packaged with the game. It highlighted many points of interest (although it didn't say what was at those points), including alien homeworlds, locations of artifacts, and all the Rainbow Worlds, plus it had the spheres of influence of all the aliens and a map of quasi-space with all the exits back to normal space. With this, the player didn't have to spend a lot of time exploring or paying close attention to the dialog, just head to all the highlights on the map.
  • The manual for The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle shows a screenshot of the password screen. Inputting the password in the screenshot takes you to the last level of the game.
  • Disney Princess: Enchanted Journey's manual reveals the Big Bad, while the game doesn't tell you there is one until the final battle.
  • In Infernal, EtherLight's evil plan isn't revealed until you're half way through the game... unless you read the the manual, which states it outright in the introduction.
  • Not immediately apparent with Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, but in the original PS2 version the game's manual folded out into a map of the locations visited in the game provided by Jak's uncle, showing the names and roughly the path the player would take through the game. The problem is that the last level is called 'Gol and Maia's Citadel' which spoils the names of the Big Bad. The problem? The whole point of Jak and Daxter's journey at the beginning is because they believe Gol can turn Daxter back into a human/elf, and since there's a man and a woman seen in the opening cutscene it's very easy to work out who these two are...
  • When the American/European versions of Catherine list the game's voice actors, they state that one of them voices "Eric Anderson (Erica)", spoiling The Reveal concerning that character.
  • The instructions booklet for SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom spoils all of the levels by deliberately listing them on the last few pages, as well as providing screenshots and summaries of the main objectives for each level. Somewhat subverted for the Chum Bucket Lab though, as the image shown is just a question mark to hide the Final Boss' identity.
  • Super Mario RPG lists the playable characters and openly reveals that Bowser will join Mario's party, making it a big deal since it would be the first time Bowser ever teamed up with his arch nemesis. While the manual has no issue with revealing Bowser, it doesn't make any mention of Toadstool being a party member.
  • EarthBound, since the manual doubles as strategy guide.
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker's manual shows an illustration of the final battle between Link, Ganondorf and Princess Zelda, a double spoiler in just one illustration!
  • Odin Sphere's manual states that Velvet hates her father Odin, which ends up spoiling the plot point that she is the half-sister to fellow playable character Gwendolyn.
  • Metroid: The instruction manual details almost everything in the game. Emphasis on "almost", for when they get to the Escape Sequence, all they said was, "If you manage to destroy the last enemy, Mother Brain, wait for a message to flash across the screen a second later. Something big is in store for you! We can't disclose it here, but we can tell you that the game is not over yet!"
  • In Puyo Puyo 7, a dark version of Arle unsurprisingly named Dark Arle plays a major role. The manual plainly states she's actually the normal Arle but possessed.
  • Parodied in Deltarune, where the unused assets for the manual Ralsei gives you lists the controls for the overworld, menus, text... and (not-actually-in-the-game) cooking, with three of the four buttons corresponding to "butter" and the final one being used for "pulsar cannons."