Just one look at the cover alone made me want to take a hi-res scan of it and blow it up into a frameable print. After Dan shared a picture of the book with me and some friends, naturally I had to find it. I quickly discovered there was not just one book, but two produced back in the early years when some of these games were still fairly young.
So what are these things exactly, you might be asking yourself. They are interactive fiction "solution" books. But to be fair, they're far less (in a good way). They don't tell you explicitly how to beat, say, Zork 1 or Zork 2. But they will have a 1 or two-paged map of the rooms in the game and show how they might be linked. That's it. No directions on what to do or what to find and how to use it. Just the map. And, they'll usually include a short description of the game itself.
The author Kim Schuette explained:
From what I've gleaned thus far, it provides even less than that. But it's still very cool."The Book of Adventure Games" takes the frustration--not the challenge--out of playing adventure games. It provides evaluations, maps, illustrations and clues for over 75 of the most popular games available on the Apple and other computers. Adventurers of all skill levels looking for that specific answer to speed them on their way will find just the hint needed to keep playing. Maps and hints are presented in a way that offers help without giving away the whole game and ruining it for you. This book won't tell you everything--just everything you need.
Interestingly, screen grabs of some of the games are presented in black and white dot-matrixy prints on some of the pages, too. It's not clear to me if all of these graphics were lifted from the games, or if some were drawn just for these books with rudimentary tools back in the mid-80s. Regardless, they are super charming. And the best thing about these two books? Their table of contents are absolute gold mines. They are a listing of games, many of which I've never even heard of. I can't wait to start taking the titles listed there and learning about them in my spare time. I can guarantee they'll all be somewhere deep in the dungeons of The Interactive Fiction Database somewhere.
To be honest that'll probably be what I use these books for the most: archeological maps that lead me to adventures well beyond my current radar. That's pretty damned cool right there.