Game Genie – Gaming Historian

Game Genie – Gaming Historian


Subtitles by The DialMan. Fixed and corrected by Alfie Moon.
Welcome to the Gaming Historian.
Cheating in videogames
everyone’s tried it at some point in their life.
Whether is for extra lifes in Contra
or to jump higher in Super Mario Brothers.
Players use cheats to help them get through a game
or just to experience it a whole new way.
Cheating has been around almost as long as videogames have.
Early cheat codes were mostly used to assist developers, and play testers of the game.
Soon game designers were purposely adding them into games for players to discover.
Most early cheats needed a pass code entered
such as the infamous Konami Code.
But there also exists cheat cartridges
which would plug into a game console and modify the game’s data.
several of these existed, but probably the most well known device was the Game Genie.
Of course they wouldn’t admit it was a cheat device
it was marketed as a “videogame enhancer”
and that players could “unlock the power of their favorite videogames”.
but most kids, including myself called it the cheat device.
Anytime we got stuck on a game
we just fired up the Game Genie and it was smooth sailing from there.
The Game Genie was developed by a UK based company known as Codemasters.
Back in the NES days they where known for developing unlicensed games
like this Quattro Adventures cart.
Originally known as the Power Pak
the Game Genie was licensed to Camerica for release in Canada
and Galoob Toys for the United States.
It was at this time that Nintendo got involved
and took legal action against both companies
to prevent the device from being released in North America.
We’il begin with Camerica.
Camerica was a small canadian videogame company
mostly known for releasing Codemasters unlicensed games.
When they where preparing to release the Game Genie
Nintendo quickly sued *judge hammer sound* saying the device infringed on their copyright.
the case was quickly dismissed in courts, and Camerica soon released the Game Genie in Canada
running full page ads stating: “Thank you Canada”
Many eager gamers imported the device from canada
while the release was delayed in the United States.
Then there was Galoob Toys.
Galoob produced some of the most popular toy lines in the 80’s and 90’s
including Pound Puppies and Micro Machines.
at one point they were the 3rd largest toy company behind Mattel and Hasbro.
When Galoob secured the license to the Game Genie
Nintendo claims they approached them about getting it officially endorsed by them.
Galoob denies that this happened
nevertheless Nintendo took legal action against Galoob. *judge hammer sound*
Howard Lincoln Nintendo’s vice president and legal experts said:
Galoob’s vice president Steven Klein thought differently
so what did the court decide?
district court judge Fern Smith sided with Galoob, in a decision that addressed 2 main issues.
1st: that when customers use the Game Genie to temporarily alter copyrighted Nintendo videogames
for their own enjoyment, they do not create a derivative work.
for those wondering a derivative work is an artistic or literary work
derived from 1 or more existing works.
an example would be if i…took this lovely picture and drew googly eyes on it.
Nintendo argued that the Game Genie was a derivative work
and therefore violated the copyright act.
The court disagreed.
The court concluded that the inherent concept of a derivative work
is that it be able to exist on its own in a separate form.
But the Game Genie does not meet that definition.
2nd: that the doctrine of Fair Use enables consumers to use Game Genie for their personal enjoyment
and therefore allows the Game Genie to be sold.
If the player purchased the Nintendo game he was protected under Fair Use to modify the game for his own pleasure.
Galoob emerged victorious! and soon after release the Game Genie.
Camerica wanted to concentrate on other projects
and knowing Galoob was a much bigger company sold their rights to Galoob.
Most people including myself have the Galoob Game Genie
but if you have the Camerica version congrats! they’re a bit harder to find.
Now let’s take a look at the Game Genie itself.
it’s pretty simple to use, you just plug the game you want to play into the cartridge here
and then plug the Game Genie into the Nintendo.
When you power up the console a code screen will appear
so bust out your code book, or hop on the internet enter all the codes you want.
So how does this thing work?
well i’m not engineer or anything but here’s the easiest way i can explain it.
Basically the Game Genie interupted communication
between the chips inside the game, and the chips inside the NES.
Let’s say you’re playing Super Mario Bros. with an infinite lives code entered into the Game Genie.
imagine you die by running into this goomba
the game chip will send a signal saying:”this player has 2 lives left.”
the Game Genie will take that and modify it to say:”This player has 3 lives left.”
then send the data on his way
thus you never run out of lives.
A code book came with every Game Genie containing codes for various games.
One interesting thing you can do is program your own codes.
Galoob encourage players to try it out, by including a small guide in their code books.
it’s pretty cool because you can do all sorts of crazy things with your games.
Game Genie codes only lasted as long as the system power was turned on.
so if a code made your game look crazy you can just turn the system off and on to try again.
This book doesn’t have every NES game, so how did Galoob provide codes for new games?
well in the back of the code book you could subscribe to Game Genie code updates
Every year you get 4 new code books with the latest games.
You know reading this code book is like taking a trip back to the early 90’s.
Galoob were a little paragraph about each game that’s in this code book
and it’s fun to read what they said.
Megaman 3 says:”Check out the radical codes for the awesome Megaman 3.”
Now a lot of people have asked me if the Game Genie works on the NES 2?
well…not out of the box…
if you tried it, it would probably get stuck.
Did Nintendo design the NES 2 in a way so that the Game Genie wouldn’t fit?
Well…maybe.
Nevertheless Galoob did design an adaptor
so that the Game Genie would fit safely into the NES 2.
Now if you thought the NES 2 was hard to find, this adaptor is even harder.
It was made in limited quantities at the end of the console’s life.
Besides the original Game Genie
there were versions for the Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Game Boy, and Game Gear.
Sega made it an officially licensed product
probably to win over some gamers after Nintendo took Galoob to court.
By 1997 the Super Nintendo was on the outs, and the Game Genie was officially discontinued.
In 1998 Hasbro announced it was purchasing Galoob for 220 million dollars.
The Game Genie is important for several reasons.
Galoob vs Nintendo was an important case of intelectual property
in what constituted Fair Use in the videogame industry.
The Game Genie also played a big part in making cheat devices more popular and user friendly.
Today you got the Code Breaker, Action Replay, and GameShark for various systems.
That’s all for this episode of the Gaming Historian. Thanks For Watching.

2 thoughts on “Game Genie – Gaming Historian”

  1. This guy is like a host you would find on a random PBS show in the 80s explaining how plants grow or some Shit …

  2. In my memory my NES accepted cartridges by inserting them at first as is shown here but then you pushed downwards and the tray would be pushed down into the machine. Am I going batshit crazy or does anyone have a clue what I'm on about?

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