Maui Mallard in Cold Shadow Had an Awesome Hardboiled Game Manual

Maui Mallard in Cold Shadow

Maui Mallard in Cold Shadow probably came out too late for its own good. It landed on the Genesis/Mega Drive in 1995, but only in Brazil and Europe. A PC version hit the United States a year later, but it wasn’t until 1997 that the U.S. saw a console release of Maui Mallard in Cold Shadow — on the Super NES.

Yes, a 16-bit side-scrolling 2D platformer came out on SNES after games like Mario 64 had already hit store shelves. Keep in mind 1997 was the same year that Turok: Dinosaur Hunter and GoldenEye 007 launched on the N64 (though Maui Mallard came out before either of them).

Even so, the game still managed to come out in an era in which instruction manuals were thick little companions to the video games they came packaged with rather than single sheets of small-print legal disclaimers. And Maui Mallard in Cold Shadow‘s SNES instruction manual is incredible.

The manual is written in a hardboiled detective style that would make Sam Spade’s eyes glimmer like a loaded .45.

Maui Mallard in Cold Shadow

The protagonist of the game, Maui Mallard (who is actually Donald Duck, though no one will call him that in the game), is basically writing this like a journal — and it gets pretty dark. The writing is peppered with phrases like “the nightmare that has been my life,” and “a guy with a death wish like me.”

Maui Mallard in Cold Shadow

The tone isn’t consistent, of course. Maui Mallard’s tormented ramblings are occasionally interrupted by information about what certain buttons do. But whenever there’s a chance to insert some hardboiled flavor, the writer goes for it.

Maui Mallard in Cold Shadow

Maui Mallard is not unique in doing the bit where the playable character is writing the game manual, of course. Even Bubsy did it, and part of me wonders if it was starting to feel a bit overplayed by the time Maui Mallard finally hit store shelves. Still, two decades later, I absolutely love discovering instruction booklets like this.

I could sit here an wax nostalgic about how I hope for a return to these sorts of game manuals, but I know they’re a product of a particular time period, and the world is moving away from this sort of thing. While it’s hard to say for certain whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, I can say for certain that I do miss it quite a bit.

Maui Mallard in Cold Shadow
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x