Every American PlayStation 2 game manual is now scanned in 4K

Every American PlayStation 2 game manual is now scanned in 4K

Physical game manuals are hard to come by these days, especially as the industry begins to rely heavily on cloud streaming and digital infrastructure. But if you remember those good old days when game boxes came with bulky brochures to peruse before you jumped into your recent purchase, a Games curator called Kirkland seeks to preserve that nostalgia for posterity by creating high quality scans of old textbooks. In fact, it just finished downloading his full set of US PlayStation 2 hand scans.

Launched in the United States in October 2000, 22 years ago on Wednesday, Sony’s PlayStation 2 was one of the most popular consoles of all time. With over 4,000 games released worldwide and selling approximately 158 million units worldwide, almost everyone had a PS2. games like Jack and Daxter and Sly Cooper helped popularize the console with kids and tweens, while titles such as Solid Metal Gear 2 and Onimusha continued to grow in a more “mature” market. devil may cry 3, Final Fantasy X, Kingdom Hearts, Ratchet & Clank, Silent Hill 2 (which is happening again now), Eyes, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3-the list of PS2 hits goes on and on, all bangers.

My favorite part of buying a new PS2 game was always reading the manual to see what tips, tricks, and cheats I could use. Although that era is long gone, Kirkland has preserved just over 1,900, downloading every US PS2 manual at Archive.org in full 4K resolution for your downloading and scrolling pleasure. The set contains about 17 GB – it was 230 GB before compression. It’s stupid.

Read more: Every SNES manual in English is now available online

Each manual is as cool as you might remember from the 2000s, with high-quality scans highlighting the often striking art. It really is a portal through time! I mean, navigate the square enix manual Musashi: Legend of the Samurai (one of my favorite PS2 games, of all time) fills me with nostalgia, taking me back to my grandma’s house when I stayed up until 3am carving goons as the protagonist wearing the Miyamoto Musashi crop top. Obviously, things haven’t changed much for me.

“The goal is to raise awareness of game preservation efforts,” Kirkland said. My box. “So many games growing up have shaped how we look at and experience the world. wanting our kids to enjoy what we’ve done. The whole ‘read the books your dad read’ offer. And there’s been a big effort to preserve the games: VGHFthe fort museumand local efforts like MAME, redump.org, no introand Good tools from Cowering before that. What I always thought, ‘That’s great! We will have everything preserved. But without the manuals, we won’t know how to play them.’ »

Read more: The decade-long struggle to fund Oakland’s Scrappy Video Game Museum

Unfortunately for textbooks, scanning can be quite a difficult process. “My process is horrible. I pull the staples and pass almost everything through my Epson DS-870 sheet-fed scanner. As a die-hard perfectionist, using a document scanner is disappointing for the quality, but a necessity due to the volume,” he said. I spent seven months scanning SNES manuals and only reached the letter “E” with three flatbed scanners. With this configuration, I was able to scan nearly 75,000 pages in the last year alone.

After the tedious work of scanning each page, Kirkland used a host of applications, such as Adobe Acrobat Pro, Photoshop, Textpad and PDF Combiner Pro, to make them as clean and pristine as possible before uploading them all to Archive. .org in 2K. and 4K resolution. “I spent whole summer vacations scanning textbooks, only to throw them away because I got better equipment or better treatment,” he said. “Lots of late nights.”

Kirkland said he lost about $40,000 on his US PS2 collection as he methodically bought up every US release over the course of 22 years. “I picked up new releases when they dropped to $20 for about the first 800 releases, then started buying used sports games in good condition, then researched the weird variants ( which is endless).”

Kirkland US PlayStation 2 4K Scan Bundle is probably the largest collection of the highest quality video game manual scans available to the public, but to him, that doesn’t quite constitute “archival” quality.

Read more: Video Game History Foundation walks away on Nintendo’s ‘destructive’ retro policies

“I’m considering this ‘functional preservation’ for now,” he said. “Since I blew the staples, I can always toss them on a tray to keep them properly. But that comes down to my perfectionist nature. What’s ‘good enough’? 2400 dpi in 48-bit color ( more than a gigabyte per page). When do we archive ink rather than images? There is no easy answer.”

Perhaps new advances in technology will eventually make it easier.

“In the future, I’d like to have an AI that can really reconstruct text and images as they were intended, correcting for skew and descreening properly without blurring line art,” he said. “As it is, nobody really wants a 600 dpi scan with staple holes and black edges, they just want the finished, polished project. »

Of course, getting there requires incredible work on the part of the archivist.

While completing over 1,900 PS2 manual scans may seem like the work of a lifetime, it’s actually just another milestone for Kirkland. He has already finished the full set of US SNES manuals in 2K (collecting the ones to scan cost him $8,000), and is snacking on SNES 4K, Atari 2600and game boy. “I’ve scanned about 300 of the original PlayStation manuals in the past few weeks,” he blurts casually, as if it were nothing.

Kirkland says he has about 7,500 manuals on hand, of which about 3,000 have already been preserved. He just hopes that this job doesn’t have to fall on the backs of exceptionally motivated individuals like himself. “In a perfect world, companies would step in and release their original artwork sent to presses for preservation,” he said. “But many of them have been lost to history and hard drives over time.”

Kirkland's gigantic collection of PS2 games, date unknown.

Hella hours and hella money later, that’s quite a collection.
Photo: Kirkland

Yet collaboration brings its own challenges.

“At the moment it’s mostly a solo effort – which I hope to change as I move to systems that I 100% can’t,” he said. “I’ve been burned out in the past by collaborations, so I’ve been a bit leery of tying myself to other projects, hoping to have a bit more quality control. and leadership.”

The work is meticulous and many of the textbooks most in need of preservation are stuck in private collections or drive up the price by “investors”. But Kirkland plans to continue with his digitization plans because, he says, this work simply needs to be done before it becomes impossible.

“The internet has had 25 years to get there, and all we have are the same digitized manuals from 2004 that look like they came from a fax machine, or fake NES manuals because NintendoAge Alumni were so paranoid they were going to counterfeit their precious holy grail that they themselves won $5 at a garage sale in the 90s. It just doesn’t sit well with me that you have to pay $200 to get the privilege to read the trigger of a stopwatch really readable manual.

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