The release of the Game Genie was a crazy ride for Camerica and Galoob in the US. Initially, during the development stage, the Game Genie was called PowerPak and
it was invented by the UK powerhouse Codemasters who later developed several NES games and another game gadget for Camerica called Aladdin Deck Enhancer. Either
Camerica or Galoob supposedly decided that the PowerPak name was uncool and they renamed the device to Game Genie.
This device would allow players to aqquire all sorts of cheats before playing a game, like invulnerbility, infinite lives, infinite energy, maybe even a level
select or maybe even access to levels that wasn't supposed to exist. All this could be gained by entering codes of either 6, 8 or 16 letters into the GameGenie
menu once the device was placed in between the NES deck and the game cartridge, and the player would then be presented with a code screen.
One Game Genie would allow up to 3 codes to be entered, but it was/is possible to connect 2 or more Game Genie's to allow more codes to be entered. When one
code screen has been completed and START is pressed, the next Game Genie screen will appear and so on and so on until you reach the game cartridge.
It's possible to use a Gane Genie from any region with any NES deck, but reports have been made about codes that worked on a US game wouldn't work on a
European NES game.
There was no real guide to how you could create your own GameGenie codes, the information included in the code book was very scarse. However I remember having
a lot of fun with Super Mario Bros (1) where I found a ton of codes simply by adding a lot of bogus into the code screen and then checking out the game
afterwards. The codes included alternate graphics, colors and some sort of moon jumping mario.
The Game Genie was announced May 8 1990 and Nintendo of America then sued Galoob May 17 1990 for copyright infringement and demanded them to
stop marketing Game Genie, which was scheduled to hit store shelves in late July 1990, retailing at about $50. Because of the court battle the release of the
Game Genie had to be posponed.
"This is a personal freedom issue," said Steven Klein, executive vice president and general counsel for Galoob. "It's just like a book. If you want to start at
Chapter 11, you can. If the kid wants to start at World 8, because he's been through all the earlier levels before and doesn't want to spend an hour doing it
again, why shouldn't he be able to?"
Camerica had already won a battle in Canada against Nintendo and as Canadian distributor of the Game Genie their batch of cheat devices were already on it's way
to Canadian stores during 1990. Camerica "Thank you Canada" in the Game Genie magazine advetisements.
In July 1991 US District Court Judge Fern Smith ruled in favour of Galoob in their court battle against Nintendo. "This is a landmark victory for Galoob
Toys," said Steven M. Klein. "The court has completely vindicated our position and we expect to begin shipping the Game Genie in 30 to 60 days." Galoob later
received $16 million from Nintendo as compensation for lost profit in 1990 and 1991 caused by Nintendo's lawsuit which prevented Galoob from selling the
Game Genie. Rumors say that Galoob had approached Nintendo earlier on, before the lawsuit, and they had offered to make the Game Genie an officially licensed
product, but the offer was turned down by Nintendo.
The Game Genie was then introduced for the Nintendo Entertainment System by late August 1991 and sold about 1.6 million units in the US and Europe during its
first year on the market. The distribution of the Game Genie changed, at least state side, from Camerica to Galoob early 1990 after a battle between Camerica
and Nintendo which prevented Camerica from entering the American market with the Game Genie. It could also have been the plan all along that Galoob would
take over distribution in the US and Europe as they had a far better distribution system, while Camerica was better at the job in Canada as they
"rack jobbed" many stores according to Bob Schuricht, former VP of Sales at Camerica, and therefore had a better relation to shop owners than Galoob
When Nintendo's Lance Barr redesigned the Nintendo Entertainment System, he also made the old NES design, in 1993 - Galoob ran into problems with their Game
Genie not being able to fit inside the revised and now toploading Nintendo deck, often referred to as "NES 2" but also known as NES Model-101. To fix the
problem Galoob released an adapter. Game Genie owners were told to call a telephone number printed on the Game Genie box and request the adapter for the new NES
model. The adapter was delivered in a small white box along with a small piece of paper instructing users how to use the adapter. The adapter is said to be
quite rare but tends to pop up on ebay quite often, so don't believe everything you hear.
During the hey-days of the Game Genie, Galoob offered code updates for Game Genie owners 4 times a year during a 3 year period, though the third year (volume 3)
seems to have had only 3 code updates. The initial code book for the Game Genie only had 70 some games included while the final code book had over 450 games
included, so Galoob never left gamers with new games without cheat codes.
Though some games were reported to be incompatible with the Game Genie by Galoob and they were; Castlevania 3 Dracula's Curse, Fester's Quest and most of the
games made by Color Dreams.
After the NES version followed Game Genies for other systems, the Nintendo Gameboy, Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis (Megadrive) and Sega Game Gear, but I doubt any
of them ever became as popular as the NES version. At least in Europe the Game Genie for the SNES was fairly unsuccessful because of Datel's Action Replay
device which also worked as an adapter for playing games from other regions, which at that time was highly popular. Actually I don't recall ever having seen an
SNES Game Genie being sold here in Denmark.
On January 1, 1997, Galoob announced that they had discontinued support and development of the Game Genie device for all systems. They believed that the device
now was too outdated and they therefore had come to the conclusion to discontinue it.
Most of Europe received the Game Genie through Galoob's distribution agents, in Denmark it was K.E. Mathiasen who during the SNES days became the official
distributor of Nintendo products and the Game Genie products then dissapeared from store shelves. In the UK toy giant Hornby handled the distribution of the
Game Genie. Hornby is also well known for making model railway products.
The UK Game Genie users had a helpline they could call to receive new codes or if they had problems using the device. But also UK videogame magazines like Total,
Super XS and Nintendo Magazine System (NMS) had a page with Game Genie, and Pro Action Replay, codes monthly.
All in all the Game Genie was a kick ass product, I of course had to have one back in the day and I think I got one at Christmas '92 and used it so much
(CHEATER!! had to say it before anyone else did) that the codebook got so worn the pages fell out. But it also added a good part of history to the life of
the Nintendo Entertainment System, something great to look back at and remember in these days where no one ever takes a chance with an odd product of any
kind for any video game system.
Thank you for reading another of my articles and I hope to "see" you on NES WORLD again sometime soon. Thank you!