This segment originally aired Nov. 17, 2016, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.
Earlier this month, Nintendo released the NES Classic, a mini version of the Nintendo Entertainment System, and it sold out almost instantly. But the new model doesn’t come with one of the most beloved features of the original: access to the Power Line players called when they got stuck in a game.
The NES Power Line was originally intended to help people with technical difficulties connecting their game systems and other customer support. When Power Line counselors started receiving calls asking for strategic help on how to successfully advance through games, they set up a new line to accommodate those calls.
“They started a brand new phone line,” said David Young, one of Nintendo’s original Power Line counselors. “It’s really grown from there, from six people to start out with that were taking calls to close to 400 in the heyday.”
People of all ages and backgrounds would call in for help, Young said.
“The demographic was huge,” Young told VICE News correspondent Dexter Thomas. “You’d get some little kids and you’d try to give them directions by using left and right, and they maybe didn’t know their left to their right, so you’d have to find a more creative way to give them directions, like go towards the tree or towards the rock.”