Back around 1990 or 1991, I recall my younger brother and I getting hopelessly stuck in Phantasy Star and in dire need of assistance. Nope, we weren’t mapping the dungeons at all, so some areas of the game were total nightmares. Still, we slogged through the game , managing to make it all the way to the infamous Baya Malay dungeons where we finally threw in the towel. Almost. Out of sheer frustration, I said, “Eh, go write Sega!” and a few days later, we’d worked out a letter asking for help and sent it off hoping for a response. About two weeks later, an envelope arrived with that familiar logo and we were both thrilled to open it up and find a photocopied walk-through of the game that helped out quite a lot.
Amusingly enough, in the interim, we’d managed to level everyone up so they were all pretty much invincible. When it came time for Myau to “flap(s) his wings ploudly” (heh) and take off for that Sky Castle, that big ol’ mandatory bird boss battle was over in something like three hits. On the first turn, yet. The final boss was a breeze as well, but were were even more impressed by the end credits of the game, which showed off the pseudo 3D scaling in a really cool way. To date, the game is still a truly great example of a few things including full screen “corridor” style movement that even developers making games for more powerful 16-bit systems from Sega and Nintendo failed to get running as smoothly or as fast (or even full screen, for that matter).
Anyway, during the wait time between when we mailed the letter and when it arrived, a few other games ended up stumping us for a bit. However, once that PS walk-through arrived, another note went out asking about Lord of the Sword, Spellcaster and Golvellius: Valley of Doom. I think we got two of those in one envelope and a third in a separate mailing, but by then, we were on a roll with the letter writing. I even wrote Nintendo about a NES I’d found that needed service and got a really speedy reply with a few local spots that happened to be authorized Nintendo service centers. I ended up not having to spend a dime on repairs, as a friend managed to get that system up and running with about five or so minutes of tinkering. More money for games is always a good thing, I say…