No gamers reared in the era of “Let’s Play” videos can quite understand how scarce gaming tips and tricks once were. If you ever reached a tough spot in a level and just couldn’t get past it–no matter how many times you tried–the option of immediately streaming somebody else’s solution was simply inconceivable. The internet wasn’t always a thing, either. You couldn’t Google a strategy guide in moments. Your options might be buying a printed guide at specialty store, or keeping an eye out for a relevant copy of EGM, GamePro, or Nintendo Power.
Of course, if your access to periodicals wasn’t that deep, Nintendo did advertise a resource on all its products that probably sounds just as outlandish to people today. Remember the Powerline?
Yep, there was a hotline desperate, frustrated NES players could call when Legacy of the Wizard finally put them at wit’s end. Who were the gurus at that call center, though? Were they elite players, recruited in some Last Starfighter skills draft? Did they have access to deep programming secrets in Nintendo’s stronghold? Nope. Turns out they were often just regular Joes who liked gaming enough to answer a job posting in Washington’s classifieds.
The AV Club rounded up a few veterans from this super-specific, mullet-ed fraternity and made them spill everything. Most strikingly, the old gurus admit they weren’t any more informed about the games than regular consumers. Their expertise only came from lots and lots of on-the-job playtime, and from compiling their own guides which would be photocopied and shared around the office. What exactly did these tactical tomes contain? Well, it happens that MetalJesusRocks got his hands on a copy and–in a move that ironically bookends our earlier point about how times have changed–he’s made this clip so you can effectively see the book through his eyes.
Throughout its pages, you’ll see the varying levels of sophistication in hand-crafted guides, with scribbled maps and plenty of personalized notes. And for whatever reason, Legacy of the Wizard did prove to be the hardest title of its generation, requiring a byzantine grid of screenshots for the operators to even advise anybody about it. Go figure.
Got any striking memories of the Powerline yourself? Do share them in the talkback.
Featured Image Credit: Nintendo