Brady Versus Versus

As one of the first big name RPGs on the PSone, Final Fantasy VII saw a disgusting number of strategy guides written to maximize on the game's popularity. To your left you'll notice both the best and worst of the bunch, respectively embodied in the Versus Books and BradyGames guides.

As nice a guy as David Cassady probably is, the BradyGames FFVII is a perfect example of dreadfully bland and generic guide writing that does a mean disservice to the guy's rep as well as anyone looking for a comprehensive and fun complement to the game. Containing incorrectly labeled maps and spoilers on every page, BradyGames' Official FFVII Guide taught a budding generation of PSone gamers that, well, unofficial might be the way to go.

Seemingly in response, the now-defunct Versus Books released the FFVII Ultimate Guide. Penned by Casey Loe, the guide was true to its title, and provided volumes more information than the "official" guide, including interesting tidbits like the Japanese-only enemy Test Zero that was used as a dummy monster to test the battle system, removed for the US version.

Perhaps most appealing about the guide is its voice. Loe writes as a gamer himself, not as a guide-churning corporate ho. The intro, for example, outlines Loe's belief that no guide should contain spoilers, and that the Perfect Guide has minimized them at every opportunity. Loe's wit enlivens the guide, melding with a beautiful layout and screenshots of everything to deliver a solid guide and help establish a reputation for a young and promising strategy guide publisher that is, alas, no more.