Back in the ’90s, there wasn’t a lot in the way of internet access, and even less in the way of free video game support. Although GameFAQs was founded in 1995, many players got their help in the form of strategy guides, magazines, and older siblings. However, Nintendo Power had its very own telephone hotline in the form of the Power Line. In fact, I would be lying if I claimed I didn’t call two or three times back in the day. (Secret of Evermore was really hard, OK?) It turns out that some of their tactics for keeping up with games were unorthodox, as a forbidden map of Super Metroid that recently surfaced can attest to.
The map was a hand-drawn schematic of the entire planet Zebes in Super Metroid. A Japanese developer drew the whole thing by hand, and the Power Line office received a copy as a reference. So what made the map so forbidden? Twitter user The Art of Nintendo Power explains in their post:
no differences between the Japanese and US releases. Nintendo was afraid that counselors would use this map and give players bad information.
So the counselors would use this map IN SECRET. Hiding copies in the backs of their binders and pulling it out when nobody was looking!
— The Art of Nintendo Power (@ArtofNP) April 14, 2020
So the counselors were told never to use it, even though they received it for the purpose of helping people with Super Metroid. The bosses had a good reason for not allowing use of this resource, but at the end of the day, we use what we have to do our jobs. You can even see hand-written notes indicating certain rooms and power-ups, probably for the most common ones that people would ask about — and you can also see a room that doesn’t exist in the final game:
There is something noteworthy in this map – it contains an unused room. Pay close attention to the circled part. pic.twitter.com/w3VSlzj0Sq
— Verneri Kontto (@vervalkon) April 14, 2020
It’s always great to see glimpses into the behind-the-scenes world of Nintendo. This Super Metroid map is a relic from ages past, when people would call a long-distance or 1-900 number for help with their favorite games. The Nintendo Power Line was so popular that it persisted until 2010, despite the spread of the internet.