So You Called The Nintendo Power Line… Who Exactly Was On The Other End?
Picture this: It’s the late 1980s or early 1990s. You just picked up a brand new NES game. You get it home, you start playing the game, and you are stumped as heck! Modern day gamers would just go on the internet to get tips or cheats. Back in the NES days, while going online was possible (with BBSes), video game specific BBSes were extremely rare. You could have gone to Nintendo Power magazine, but what if the game hadn’t been covered yet? Well, you called the “Nintendo Power Line” of course! But who exactly were the “expert counselors” on the other end of the line?
The telephone service at the time offered video game strategies and pointers for players that were having a hard time beating a specific area of a newly purchased game. The system was first advertised in the premiere edition of Nintendo Power Magazine, back in 1988. The phone number was a local Washington state number, 206-885-7529 to be exact. The service eventually went automated as outlets like the Internet became widespread, and the services were discontinued in June of 2010. But back in the early days, you got a human on the other end of the line, and no matter who you spoke to, they seemed to be an expert at whatever game you needed help on! So, who where they?
While sometimes, the person you got at random may have very well been a fan and an expert at the game you needed help with, most of the time, there was a good chance that they played your request for help very little, if ever. The Nintendo Game Counselors on the other end of the phone had at their desk, a variety of binders, which had nearly every piece of information that would most likely be requested from players. Magazine articles, maps (official looking and what looks to be homemade sketches), and a variety of illustrations, that seem to be perhaps drawn by the counselors themselves, and shared throughout the system.
This information came to our attention, thanks to a user on Imgur called “portnoyd”, who has uploaded a large amount of photographs of some of the binders, and some pictures taken of various pages. Portnoyd has this to say about these two very specific binders:
“These are pics of one of the two game counselor binders that I own. These were the actual binders and resources game counselors used on the Nintendo Power line (206-885-7529), before they had access to computers and the Internet. This is volume letters G through K; the other binder I have is T through Z. There are at least 3-5 more in the set and I would love to have them. I took pics of each page and I apologize for my awful photography. If you’d like a better shot of any page, just comment and I will do my best for you. Although I could have scanned these for better clarity, the time it taken would have meant putting it off. I’ve been trying to get these online since I got them 9 years ago and I’m just a bit lazy! If there is enough interest, I’ll take pics of the other one. Thanks for looking!”
In addition, there is also a chance for you to own your very own piece of this history as well! We searched around eBay, and discovered that there are currently two active actions available, which will allow you to own certain pages out of these amazing binders. One of them is for the NES title “8 Eyes”, and contains 9 pages of documentation, hole-punched and stapled. The other one is for “Zelda: Links Awakening” for the Nintendo Game Boy, and contains 8 pages of maps, both an original version and an updated edition, also hole-punched and stapled. The 8 Eyes pages are for sale for $299.99 while the Zelda set is going for $999.99.
Hopefully, learning this information did not ruin a special part of your childhood, but let’s face it. Thinking we were talking to a full fledged expert with a simple phone call, was pure magic for us as kids. (I’m sure the long distance part was not magic for many of the parents!) Besides, if you wanted a TRUE expert, you would have to call the “Nintendo Power Phone”, which was not affiliated with Nintendo, advertised heavily on television (at least in my area), and utilized a 900 number, making parents even more panic stricken! (A link to the video for this one is at the end for those that don’t remember it.)
Portnoyd’s Imgur Photo Album (88 pictures!): http://imgur.com/a/PxHCr
eBay Auction: 8 Eyes Nintendo Call Center Maps:
eBay Auction: Links Awakening Nintendo Call Center Maps: