The nostalgia of this may sting in the bridge of the nose a little. Nintendo brought back the Power Line for this weekend and for the launch of the Nintendo NES Classic Edition. And while you probably already know about holding A at the start screen to resume Super Mario Bros. from the last world you died on, just hearing it again from an honest-to-god Nintendo counselor might punch you right through the feels into next year.
The Power Line was one of the greatest manpower initiatives in video games history. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, there was no way to help someone through a tricky portion of Super Mario Bros. 3, or Metroid, or The Legend of Zelda, without actually sitting by them and saying what was coming next and what to do. So, in the days before the commercial Internet, Nintendo recruited, trained and placed into service a force of phone counselors to help players complete what still are some of the toughest games ever found in the mainstream.
Their counselor manuals have since made it into the wild, and they are impressively thick, containing hand-drawn maps, hand-written notes, and other privately collaborated information to help someone on the other end of the line finally finish what they had started.
"We were gameplay counselors," says Power Line veteran Pat Wells in this recording, "and our job was to turn players' frustrations into victories." Missions accomplished.
The Power Line can be reached at 425-885-7529 for the rest of this weekend.