Long before the Internet and its bevvy of cheat codes, hints, walk-throughs, and FAQs, video game enthusiasts depended on video game magazines and Game Genies to navigate the complicated landscape that is 8-bit and 16-bit gaming. Even more dire: having to rely on someone else to give you the information second-hand.
Luckily for me, my Dad was all too happy to fulfill my magazine addiction and I still have piles of Game Pro and EGM to prove it. He even hooked me up with a Game Genie and Code Book for the Sega Genesis.
The Game Genie was a video game enhancer cartridge that you’d insert your game into (like a Sonic and Knuckles deal) and then insert that into your system. And if you were playing Sonic 3 with Sonic and Knuckles on the Game Genie, you’re getting into Human Segapede territory.
Photo courtesy Reddit.
Please note that I am a Sega gal and didn’t get an NES until 2001 or so, thus I’m not familiar with the struggles of the NES version of the Game Genie and that kinky BDSM hardware coming off of it.
From there, you would enter your codes that you’d like to play with for the entirety of the game. These codes would, through programming magic, patch the code of the game and give a myriad of different end results. If you’re looking for a more technical explanation than “magic” of how the Game Genie worked, definitely check out this Mental Floss article.
What was so great about the Game Genie? The codes in the book allowed game players different cheats or hacks so they could be invincible, have unlimited lives, get all the items, select different levels– the possibilities were endless!
There were also codes to make games more difficult. I didn’t understand this concept at the time, but if you wanted a challenge or perhaps you beat the game one too many times and need something different but don’t have the scratch for a new Nintendo cart, this would make the old game into a new (ish) game. It could be a lot of fun to play around with and I kind of regret not taking advantage of this use of the product when I was a wee lass.
Nintendo of America was having none of this and tried to sue Galoob, the makers of the Game Genie, but the courts ruled in favor of Galoob. While Nintendo was busy fighting Galoob, Sega teamed up with them and officially endorsed the product. The Sega version of the Game Genie screen looks totally badass, too. I always imagined the cursor as Aladdin’s sword from the Genesis game.
Using the Game Genie was a process. Entering codes isn’t as simple as it sounds. You had a cursor and would press the D pad to access letters and numbers, and these characters weren’t laid out like your standard keyboard. Some of these codes were long. Hella long. And if you messed it up, you had to go back and correct it. Or take your chances and hope you didn’t end up having to restart the damned process all over again.
You didn’t have to make up your own codes, although you definitely could and it was encouraged. The Game Genie came with a Code Book, listing a ton of games and awesome codes. But what about new codes and codes for games that hadn’t yet been released at the time the Code Book was published? Galoob has you covered– you could subscribe (for a small fee) to Game Genie Code Updates and they’d send you four mini books every year. Oh the primitive ways we received our information before the Internet.
There are lots of resources for Game Genie codes out there, but I came across this video of 10 Weird Super Mario Bros. Game Genie Codes that I really enjoyed:
One of our favorite Game Genie codes isn’t even for the NES. We’re all about using the Genesis version to reach Hidden Palace Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog 2. It’s not exactly pretty, but it’s something.
A Game Genie 2 was set for release in 1994, but was ultimately scrapped, most likely due to a change in management at Galoob. The Game Genie 2 reportedly would have featured code searching. For now, we can only dream.
Did you ever use the Game Genie? What were some of your favorite experiences with it?