The Art of Nintendo Power is a Twitter account that shows off scans of Nintendo Power Magazine as well as other retro Nintendo memorabilia. The account shared something especially neat earlier this week: a hand-drawn Super Metroid map created by one of the game's developers. The map was an invaluable item for Nintendo's Game Play Counselors—but it was also a forbidden resource.
Back before Discord and Wikis—even back before GameFAQs and Prima game guides—people called 900 hotlines for tips whenever they got stuck in games. (Much to their parents' chagrin, once the phone bills rolled in.) Nintendo was a hotline pioneer; its Counselors stayed on the line from 1987 to 2005. And the phone service got plenty of use in 1994, when Super Metroid arrived and stymied players with Zebes' twisted tunnels.
Giving game advice over the phone is tricky but directing someone through Zebes when you can't see their screen is especially complicated. Though Counselors got their hands on the aforementioned map, they weren't allowed to use it. According to the proprietor of Art of Nintendo Power (who goes by Archon 1981 on YouTube), "This map was drawn my [sic] a Japanese developer, and back then, Nintendo couldn't say FOR SURE that there were... 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 sneak copies of the map into the backs of their information binders, and they would whip them out when nobody was looking. History is filled with instances of people sharing forbidden texts in the darkness of caves and basements. Count verboten maps being shared in dimly lit cubicles too, I guess.
The map includes cute little icon-sized drawings of Samus' ship and bosses like Kraid. One astute Super Metroid fan points out the existence of an extra room. Otherwise, the map doubles perfectly as a resource for western Super Metroid players. There is minimal difference between the Japanese and English versions of the game. Western players can even select Japanese text, an option that was definitely unusual at the time.
Super Metroid came out a long time ago, but the Metroid series lives! We'll be getting Metroid Prime 4 eventually. Here's everything we know about this mysterious game from Retro.