I’ve always been drawn to maps. There’s an allure to them. The promise of mystery and discovery. The rich details that allow your eyes to wander. They have the ability to transform a narrative into something much deeper.
I miss the days of leafing through a Nintendo Power and landing on a map that would unblock my progress in games like Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest and Shadowgate. A time when instant gratification wasn’t a click away. I miss the days of swapping secrets with friends in the school yard. And the imaginative rumors kids would invent.
I long for the days of unwrapping artfully packaged, physical games that contain prizes such as cloth maps, steeped in myth and lore. And the joy of hand-drawing maps while lying prone on the living room carpet.
If you haven’t noticed yet, I’m a nostalgic person. And if you’re reading this book then you are as well. Or perhaps just curious. Or both.
For this book I had to decide on what would constitute a map, and what would not make the cut. The obvious inclusions are those massive maps that are seen in beautiful fold-out posters, included with some games, magazines, and guidebooks. Also included are those more detailed maps occasionally seen in game manuals and the in-game maps that would show a character’s advancement as they moved from level to level.
What is rarely included in this book are level layouts. Those that I opted to include tend to be hand-drawn representations of levels. Whereas I excluded many of those that are simply a collage of in-game images spliced together to form a pathway. Classifying these as maps is a fair designation, and one that I tend to agree with. However, I wanted the focus to be more on the purity of maps and less about level design.
Titles often differed between Japanese and English language releases. For this book I primarily listed the games with their English name, for the sake of simplicity. I decided to break course from this format when it came to Dragon Warrior versus Dragon Quest as the latter Japanese title has since become the common naming across languages.
Lastly, I want to express my appreciation to you for purchasing this book. It brings me immense joy to know there are others out there that share my deep appreciation for both the era in gaming and mapping.