Entry written on August 10th.
If you were saying to yourself “Now, where can I browse over 1,700 arcade manuals in PDF format?“, your prayers were just answered. This is over three gigabytes of manuals, schematics, and general information about arcade machines, scanned in by an anonymous army of dedicated people, and going back up to 30 years.
My collection was previously at around 300, but that initial collection was from a different source, and the filename structure isn’t compatible with what I got in my latest set. So I’ve knocked it to a separate section from the main collection. They are likely doubles, and I’ll deal with that in the future.
The collection is one I got from usenet newsgroups months ago, and I just hadn’t gotten around to throwing it onto the site. I now have scripts that deal with this sort of stuff quicker, and so here we are. The filename structure of the current set is in what’s called “TOSEC Format”. TOSEC stands for “The Old School Emulation Center”, but at this point TOSEC format covers a ton more than just old-school game ROMs, which is what it was designed for. Here’s the document explaining TOSEC format, and since it’s not handled by any standards group in the typical fashion, it’s subject to some modifications, but also isn’t overloaded by nerds trying to break the thing in half to satisfy commercial interests.
I find the TOSEC format really easy to understand. If a filename says “Mario Bros [Schematics] [English]”, you know what you’re getting. Most of my stuff is in “8+3” format, that is, eight characters, a dot, and then three more characters. I wish TOSEC was available for this other stuff as well, but we do what we can with what we have.
Arcade manuals are this fascinating thing to me; as a kid I can count on one hand the times I came into contact with one, and somehow I thought they held all the secrets to the game. If I could just understand what these crazy schematics meant, I’d beat the game handily, truly master it.
I can even remember my first manual. You never forget your first manual; mine sits on a shelf just behind my head in my office. It was for Asteroids, and I swiped it out of an abused, dying, broken Asteroids machine at a dude ranch my dad brought his kids to. The back of the machine was open, agape, and I saw the little book on the floor of the machine and thought there it is, the key to mastering this machine. So somehow I got it into my jacket and home in a suitcase without dad noticing.
Now, of course, one merely has to grab the manual off my site; the dude ranch has been completely stricken from the equation.
What shocked me, going through the manual back then, was how it was possible to set up the coin return for different currencies, and the fact that you could manipulate dip-switches on the machine to make it run differently. This should have been obvious, but there you go, it blew me away at the time.
Enjoy the manuals, watermark free, ready to go. Now let’s make those games work!
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