In the matter of games that need rulebooks to play, most have rules that work in such a way that when you have taken enough time to figure them out, you will be able to remember them and play without referring to the rulebook. Some games are built in such a way that you actually can’t play the game without referring to the rulebook. The balancing act involved in such games is how to make the game interesting when you have to refer to everything constantly. There are two games that I have found that work well to this extent, making them enjoyable, but not necessarily a good game due to the amount of time you have to spend looking through the books.
The first is for a single player and is called Barbarian Prince...
One of the first games I was introduced to and a game that I spent a lot of time playing, it involved the titular prince in his quest to flee to the south and there try to raise an army to take back his kingdom from the usurper. Along the way, you can encounter trials, troubles, and rewards as well as treasure, allies and enemies, but at every step along the way, you have to refer to the rulebook to see if your travel is safe, which then refers to another table to see what happens next, and then to another table to see how that encounter resolves, and possibly a further encounter to be resolved thereafter. It makes for an interesting game as it’s designed for solo play, but as a concept, it really doesn’t work for anything other than telling a story.
The second is for many players and is the Tales of the Arabian Nights
This is a game that I played earlier in the year and enjoyed greatly, but never got to the end of it as the amount of time needed to play through the game was more than we had in a single night. Same concept and same mechanics to play, only far larger in scope and vision than the first, requiring not one but three rulebooks to play properly, and an equal number of players at the least to make sure that one of you didn’t spend the entire evening reading for everyone else.
This one I looked at earlier in the year, one of the most enjoyable evenings I've had all year, the details of which are at http://millionwordman.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/arabian-nights-game-review-bridge.html