If you've ever struggled in present day with, say, technical support for a router, you probably know the specialists have all kinds of documentation and pathing for how to identify and solve a customer's problem. In the 1980s and 1990s Nintendo famously tried something like that for its video games, the Powerline, and it is generally remembered as a success.
That's amazing, given the manual that "game counselors" working the phones had to use. YouTuber Metal Jesus found another one and on Friday devoted 10 minutes to inspecting its contents, revealing what appears to be an all-hands effort to find, generate and distribute the keys to beating more than 60 games for NES and SNES.
This is not the first time this guide has been seen in the wild. There was a discovery back in 2013 of a multi-volumed set of game counselor binders. This is a single volume, however, and looks like it weighs a ton. Metal Jesus goes through it over the course of 11 minutes, lingering on some notes and details and inferring what was going on when they were written.
One would assume that Nintendo would lean on developers for materials and guidance in highlighting the knotty areas of the games and information on how to get out of them. That does not appear to be the case, necessarily.
For example, at 4:25, the guide for Lagoon on Super Nintendo is shown, with an apology that the guide writer could not get color maps or screenshots, which would have come from a developer. The next game, though, Legacy of the Wizard, features a single page of super-condensed maps showing all the shop locations. It's all so tiny as to appear useless, and suggests the developer just rounded up whatever was on hand and sent it over with no real context or consultation.
It's more insight into what had to be a herculean task for Nintendo in the days before the commercial Internet and search engines, to say nothing of GameFAQs and Let's Play videos. Gamers who were stuck in a complicated game were gamers who were going to stop playing that game, and possibly others. Nintendo wanted to solve this, and the only solution to that was a phone line and huge amounts of individual manpower.
Metal Jesus also found an official Nintendo of America employees' manual from 1989, if you're interested in things like time-off policies and insurance benefits. But there is a full organization chart that shows where everyone ranked, from Howard Lincoln, the senior vice president for administration, to the Game Master, Howard Phillips.