Saturday, August 2, 2014

In need of a little enhancement? Try Nintendo's Game Genie


I've been going through the closets the past couple of weeks, cleaning out the skeletons and the myriad of other random objects that have accumulated in them over the past six or seven years. When I pulled down a box full of computer parts, I discovered a magical golden object.


It was a Galoob Game Genie, my original one, in matter of fact. By the time it was released I had been playing an NES for several years, and I was no stranger to difficult, frustrating games. Most of the Nintendo's library was made up of games so hard they would make a saint cuss. I owned a lot of games where I had only seen the first couple of levels. Looking through Nintendo Power was the only way I got to see what the later levels of some games looked like. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I'm looking at you. You too Gradius, and your limited continues. Battletoads, you stay in the corner, I'm not talking to you anymore.

If you aren't familiar with the Game Genie, it was a device that hooked onto your games, then got plugged into your NES. When you turned the system on, you would be taken to a screen where you could input codes from the codebook.


You could use the codes provided for you, or if you were feeling particularly lucky, come up with codes of your own. You had to be careful though, because the wrong code or combination of codes could make a game unplayable. The Codebook didn't cover all the games that were out at the time, but it had codes for some of the more popular games of the time. Depending on what kind of player were, the Game Genie could be used to make a game easier, or if you were completely insane, even more difficult. Given the choice between infinite lives and starting with 1 life, I'm pretty sure I know which one I would choose.


Sometimes the writers would taunt players, urging them to try certain codes if they were REAL game players. In the case of Batman, starting with one life and only allowing yourself to pick up half the amount of pellets was akin to jumping out of a plane without a parachute. No matter how hard you tried, it wasn't going to end well.


Applying codes to some of the games completely changed how they played. Friday the 13th for example, became another weekend by the lake when you entered the infinite children and energy codes. Rather than freaking out everytime you came across the large, purple serial killer, you could just enjoy a nice relaxing walk around Crystal Lake. Sure, you'd have to fight the big guy every now and then, but you could take yoursweet time since you didn't have to worry about running out of children. It seems kind of morbid, now that I think about it. Providing Jason with an infinite amount of children to murder may have made the game easier, but it still gave Jason an infinite amount of children to murder..



As much as I love the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the first game on the NES is one of the most frustrating ever made. And it's all because of that damn seaweed in the Dam levels. I think it was specifically programmed to make children cry. Just the first level is enough to make even the most patient person want to throw the controller. Those Dam levels though, they were just malicious.With the Game Genie, there's no need to worry about it anymore. Just swim right on through it and disarm those bombs. You still had to worry about the time limit, though. Game designers fed on the tears of children, and even the folks at Galoob wouldn't want to deprive them of their main source of sustenance.

Since there were still games coming out for the NES at this point, there was a need for newer, more updated codebooks. But how would you get that info out to people that bought a Game Genie in the pre-internet world? By mail-order, that's how.


For just over $5, you could get four quarterly code updates. These would include updated game lists, and in some cases, older codes were tweaked so they caused fewer glitches during game play. There was nothing more aggravating that putting all your codes in, only to find a jumbled title screen when you started the game. I never actually subscribed to the updates, but thankfully my neighbor did. I would borrow them, and my mom would make photocopies at work. By the time the updates stopped coming, I had already moved on to bigger and more powerful consoles, each with their own versions of the Game Genie.

Sadly, I think the day of the cheat device is long gone. Games have become so complicated, it wouldn't be a good idea to screw around with the coding. Of course, most new games come with plenty of glitches out of the box, who would want to add even more?

9 comments:

  1. I was too old for Nintendo at the time it came out. I was an Atari 1979 2600 kind of guy. BUT my stepbrother had it and let me play pro wrestling on it....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. An Atari 2600 was actually my first system too. There aren't enough consoles with fake wood paneling these days.

      Delete
  2. Battletoads!I loved that game!I hated that game!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Same here man. It looked like it was going to be a cool game, then I got to the frakkin Turbo Tunnel level. I think I literally threw my controller because of that one.

      Delete
  3. I actually got pretty far in the TMNT game one time. Literally...one time, because back then you had to leave your Nintendo on all night long when you went to sleep, or all day long when you went to school, and just turn off the TV. I think I had it running for weeks during the summers.

    Still have my system and games too. But that whole 'inability to save a game' thing really makes playing it a bit of a bitch. We've been spoiled in our old age!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I never even thought about doing that in those days. It killed me every time I had gotten further in a game, only to have to turn it because it was bed time.

      You're right though. Kids now wouldn't know what to do if they lost their progress every time they turned off their system.

      Delete
    2. I totally forgot about the days of leaving the system on and turning off the TV! Wow, basically the original autosave.

      And yeah, that TMNT game was a beast.

      Delete
  4. Played around with the Game Genie a couple of times durning the NES.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mine pretty much stayed in my NES. That's probably why it stopped working after a while.

      Delete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...