Game on! Nintendo's Power Line returns this weekend only

Time-warp back to those days when we had to call a live hint line to get Mario out of that weird underwater level.

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
CNET freelancer Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
2 min read

Back in ye olden days, before we had the internet to help us find every video-game hint or song lyric or movie trivia answer, we had to turn to less-tech-savvy options. Somewhere I probably still have the paperback book that showed me how to master the Pac-Man mazes on my Atari 2600. I'll sell it to you cheap. It's pretty much unused after chapter one.

But if Nintendo was your console of choice in the 1980s, you may have called the Nintendo Power Line to speak to an actual company game counselor in Redmond, Washington, who would coach you through a tricky spot in whatever game was driving you crazy at the moment.

This weekend, gamers can time-warp back to those days when you absolutely needed to know how to get Mario through that weird underwater level. Nintendo is reopening the Power Line from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. PT on Nov. 11-13. Call (425) 885-7529 and you can get tips for the 30 games offered on the NES Classic Edition, the self-contained mini-console that shoots you back to the '80s faster than a DeLorean. It's all part of a retro weekend the company has dubbed #NESterday.

Now, this flashback might be uncomfortable to some younger gamers. Live PEOPLE? Dialing PHONES? Long-distance CHARGES? Man, it's like we were one step away from blacksmithing and lamplighting. But as opposed to the live helpers back in the day, who were armed with super-high-tech three-ring binders of information, you won't actually be put in the position of speaking to a real person.

"In this fully automated version, you can use your real-life phone (bonus points if it has a cord!) to dial (425) 885-7529 to hear recorded tips for several games, plus behind-the-scenes stories from original Nintendo Game Play Counselors," the company says in a press release.

Whew. Now that we know that, it's on like Donkey Kong.