I remember back when I bought Final Fantasy VII how I was really looking forward to getting the game and playing it for the first time. But I also remember how frustrated I was when the person in front of me bought the game AND strategy guide at the same time. I thought to myself, "Why would you want to buy the game and the guide at the same time? Wouldn't you want to enjoy the game first through self discovery before someone holds your hand through the entire game?"
But I was young and naive back then. And, if I recall, the person may have been older. Now that I, too, am older, I realize the reason wasn't because he was impatient to find everything - he just doesn't have the time to.
Now, at nearly double the iterations from that last memory, Final Fantasy XIII is released, as are the strategy guides that follow suit. And I ended up becoming that man from my youth, buying the strategy guide shortly after acquiring the game.
While this is not a dramatically changing point in my strategy-guide-buying life, it is the first time I've bought one for a Final Fantasy game relatively close to the game purchase. Like many older gamers, the time frame we have to enjoy games gets smaller and smaller, and frankly, there's really no other alternative if you want to keep playing games. I don't have the luxury to waste 4 hours in one sitting trying to find an item, when I could quickly find out that I increase my chances by equipping myself with a particular piece of armor.
But, in my defense, all my strategy guides have been for RPGs or Strategy RPGs. Those games are absolutely full of content that 80% of players would probably overlook by just playing the game once over and not come back for a second playthrough. Any other games like platformers or first-person shooters don't have as much depth as your typical multi-class, -weapon, and -quest RPG game. And there have only been a handful of games AT MOST that I've given extra attention to to get the most out of the gaming experience.
So, while I'll continue to enjoy my playing experience with XIII, the guide will serve to be my safety net, should I become stuck or desire to acquire more "bang for my buck."
Also, for the record, the hardcover edition of the Final Fantasy XIII guide is SUPER slick, on quality print, has minimal spoilers in the walkthrough, and is numbered (since only 210,000 are produced). Piggyback Interactive has quite the keen eye for quality.