Article 13—Crystalis “Get a Clue” Book (1990)

SNK’s Crystalis was a great game for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It had a
huge world to explore and a great deal of charm, especially in the character dialogue. When I reviewed it for a 1990 book called the VideoGames & Computer Entertainment Complete Guide to Nintendo Video Games, I wrote that “…you’ll encounter a singer in a tavern who is sure to make you laugh, and the lonely last words of a stranger who dies in your arms just might make you cry.” I don’t remember specifically ordering a copy of this hint book, but I was on SNK’s consumer mailing list at the time, so it may have been sent to all of the people who received Super Player, the company’s fan newsletter.

As an authentic piece of vintage video-game memorabilia, I suppose the Crystalis Clue Book would be a nice find for a hardcore NES collector. But as a fan of the game (for which no “official” strategy guide was published), I was disappointed by the sparse contents. The book includes no character artwork, screen shots or maps. Three pages are devoted to a table of contents, a two-paragraph summary of the background story and a few sentences that explain how to save and load a game in progress. Not counting the wraparound cover, five of the remaining 13 pages are completely blank! I scanned them all in the interests of historical accuracy, but several of the above links (Page 10 in particular) will lead you to what may be the most useless images on the entire Internet.

The inside front cover features an ad for Ikari III: The Rescue, the final game in SNK’s Ikari Warriors trilogy. I find it interesting that the knife-wielding enemy being held
aloft by Paul (or is it Vince?) appears to be a woman. Maybe I’m wrong; maybe it’s just another example of bad NES box art. But it sure looks like the figure has breasts, a detail that was conveniently covered up by a slight repositioning of the Ikari III logo when the game was eventually released. Note that the enemy being kicked in the face by Vince (or is it Paul?) is wearing an identical outfit—also with a slight bulge in the chest area—and both enemies have relatively long hair. Are they both women? Is this the most misogynistic video-game artwork ever?

© 2010 Chris Bieniek. Certain video game images, characters and logos on this Web site are copyrighted or trademarked by their respective publishers.