Inside the Guide: Old-School Games

Hello everyone, and welcome to Inside the Guide, the only article on GameCola that discusses writing guides for videogames. You know, I post my guides on GameFAQS under the pseudonym "The Lost Gamer."

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Hello everyone, and welcome to Inside the Guide, the only article on GameCola that discusses writing guides for videogames. You know, I post my guides on GameFAQS under the pseudonym “The Lost Gamer.” I chose that name because I mainly play older, more unknown games, rather than the biggest bestsellers. And this month, I thought I’d show you what I’m talking about by discussing guides I wrote for really, really old games.


burger11982? Gawh, I wasn’t even born yet!

BurgerTime is a game where you control Peter Pepper, a chef who is trying to make giant hamburgers, while evil foods like hot dogs and scrambled eggs try to kill him. Um…yeah. I’m sure there’s some sort of reason for why this is happening, but I can’t think of it right now.

The way to beat BurgerTime is to walk across all the hamburgers while not getting caught by the evil food. That’s basically all there is to the game, so I supplemented my guide with text-pictures of the levels, showing where all the burger parts are. Nobody who is using the guide while playing the game would ever find the pictures useful, but they’re good-looking filler nonetheless.


The game has no official end; the levels just repeat themselves in groups of six. No one ever felt the need to tell me this, however. I only figured this out after I realized level 9 looked a lot like level 3, which means I wasted like 15 minutes making pictures for levels 7 and 8 (aka levels 1 and 2). Oh well.

Mario Bros.


I wanted to make my guide look impressive, so I artificially extended it with a “history of Mario”—a list of games that Mario has been in. This adds nothing to the guide, but makes it look nice. Just like with BurgerTime, I included a text-picture of the level layout. And to top off the not-very-helpful information, I included a section on the game’s controls, taken from the manual.Mario Bros. is a game where you play as Mario/Luigi and kill enemies for coins. Amazingly, I was able to come up with in-depth strategies for what to do on each level, even though they’re all pretty much the same. Honestly, I can’t remember how I did that. I must have been less lazy back in 2003.


All of these things were taken from a Mario Web site run by somebody named Sardius. This is the key to making an impressive guide: using good-looking filler material that you got from somewhere else. Give them credit for their work…but don’t actually ask for permission, because they might say no. That’s the strategy I used for this guide, which is why it looks so nice.

Mario Bros. (e-Reader)

e1Zombie Koopa!

Nintendo ported the game to the Game Boy Advance. All I had to do was change “NES” to “e-Reader” and resubmit my guide. Easiest guide I ever wrote.

I thought that’d be it, because only about two people bought the e-Reader, but surprisingly, I received a long, heartfelt letter about this game:

I just wanted to say thanks man for your guide! I really do appreciate your guide. See, when I was a kid (about 10-12 years a go) I played this game a lot with my step-dad. I mean, we really played this game for about 1-2 hours a night EVERY night when he got home from work. (he worked 4:00-12:00 midnight) and we stayed up for a couple hours playing this game. We both bonded with this game like crazy. Then about 2 or 3 years later my mom and him broke up ($$$ problems) and I only met him once or twice since then. (10-12 yrs.) Between then and now I’ve played that game about…5 times total.

Anyway, Then I went to school one-day and saw my good ol’ friend Allie playing Gameboy Advance, so like any ol’ boy would do, I asked her which game she was playing (’cause girls in our school NEVER brings gameboys) she said she was playing the game, “Super Mario Advance” for gameboy advance. I didn’t think of anything at the time, except cool a girl’s playing a gameboy advance game.

Then she asked me do I feel like playing, so I said “Why not?” So I take the game start playing it (this was like Super Mario 3″ or something liked that. I died, of course, right before I died I shut it off. I was gonna give it back to her, then for some reason I decided to turn it back on.. I don’t know …get it ready for her? I don’t know what I was thinking, lol. Then I saw the game Super Mario 3 or something like that then I saw underneath that game a game called, “Mario Bros. Classic” …my mind went to shock trying to imagine if this was THAT very same game me and my step-dad used to play… and sure it enough it was. I clicked on it and played it. That VERY same day after school I went home and asked my mom, “Do you remember where our ol’ Nintendo is?”

My mom answered, “Why do you ask?”

I told her the long story when FINALLY she answered, “Look in the basement, I’m not sure though.

I looked up day and night (literally about 6 hours or so, remember…I had school that day) I had practically given up when it hit me, it has to be at my REAL dad’s house. I of course called him up (NOT my original step-dad (the one I played game with), my REAL dad)

I asked him if it was at his place. He came back to the phone saying yeah it was there. I was in shock for a few seconds then I asked him, “Are there any games there? Or are they gone…”

He left for what seemed like an eternity and came bac saying, “there’s just one here…some kinda Mario game.”

My heart thumped, “Is it called Mario Bros.?”

He said, “No, it’s (sorry cannot think of the name of the game mighta been like Super Mario 2 or 3)

Then the very next day (which by the way, was TODAY) I went on and looked up there and saw the game. I ended up getting the game for a total of: $6.50 (with $3.75 s+h) =$10.25. I was so happy. Now I await for the game to be in my possession so I can play the game once again. I can almost guarrantee I will never get sick of that game. I have the NES system now all I need is that game to come into my mailbox. Who knows…maybe one day I’ll call my ol’ step-dad over and tell him about this story (if by some miracle I can FIND him). And about this game.

So after I bought this game off ebay today I went to look for some kinda walkthrough (even though I already know the game by heart) and found your walkthrough guide. I haven’t printed it out, but I might. Because now I know a way to play “SAFE”…I was always too aggressive. You wanna know what’s sad, after all those 2 years of constant play I never knew about playing “SAFE” I mean I knew that if you stayed there in that Safe spot you could never die, but I didn’t think anything of it. I just thought, the only way to win is to go to the second to top floor and bang them and send them flying. Thanks man. I am sure I will find your walkthrough useful to me. ^_^

[Name and contact information withheld]

Now see, it’s nice letters like that which make writing guides worth it.

e2Mario hassles Luigi.

And that’s it for this month. You know, I really should re-use the strategy of loading my guides with random filler taken from other sites. It makes the guide-writing process go much faster. In fact, I should have done that with my column this month. Instead of explaining about BurgerTime, I should have copy/pasted material from Zach Rich’s review of the game:

“I hate Sprite Monkey.1 I hate Sprite Monkey.2 I hate Sprite Monkey.3

Um…on second thought, I won’t take stuff from Zach Rich’s reviews after all. See you next month, folks!

P.S. If anyone out there has the TI-82 Graph Link program on their computer, would they please contact me? I have two old TI-82 games whose coding I want to see.

1. This is a footnote.

2. This is also a footnote.

3. I love footnotes, but you know what I don’t love? Sprite Monkey.

2 votes, average: 8.00 out of 102 votes, average: 8.00 out of 102 votes, average: 8.00 out of 102 votes, average: 8.00 out of 102 votes, average: 8.00 out of 102 votes, average: 8.00 out of 102 votes, average: 8.00 out of 102 votes, average: 8.00 out of 102 votes, average: 8.00 out of 102 votes, average: 8.00 out of 10 (You need to be a registered member to rate this post.)

About the Contributor

From 2007 to 2016

Michael Gray is a staff writer for GameCola, who focuses on adventure games, videos and writing videogame walkthroughs.

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