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April 3, 2011 / jwaxo

Game Genie (Cheating)

Obviously it’s, uh, it’s hard to tell, but that’s higher than he should be able to jump.

Once upon a time all console games were in cartridges. Well, let me specify: all games that I was aware of were on cartridges. While there were many upsides (virtually no loading times, free space to save your games) and many downsides (tiny amounts of memory, costly to create), there was one magical part of them that we all understood: the ability to use them with some sort of cheating peripheral.

Nowadays cheating is taken extremely seriously. People get their accounts banned for life from their platform of choice, in some cases costing gamers hundreds of dollars when they lose access to their DLC or Steam accounts. The thing is, back when using some sort of cheat system was a bit more viable. According to my two minutes of research, you can still get GameSharks for your XBox or your PS3 or whatever, but I can’t imagine it being nearly as epic as the one we maintained, second hand, of course, for our NES. Heck, using the thing actually caused a physical change in how the system worked, preventing you from being able to push the cartridges in the correct way; you can’t get more hardcore than that.

Our first relationship with the Game Genie that we eventually required happened at a friends’ house, of course, where “we” were all playing a bit of Mario 3, a game I have yet to ever actually play, when the neighbor whipped out this crazy device, plugged their cartridge into it, forced it into the NES’ gaping maw, and was suddenly treated to a strange screen with a mystical, magical floating hand, where they punched in a code they had apparently memorized by sheer repetition. To our amazed eyes, they then proceeded to jump around the levels like it was nobody’s business.

“How can this be?” we asked. “What strange power is this?”

“It’s a Game Genie,” the neighbor explained. “It lets you cheat!”

I’m a little shaky on how we eventually came into possession of our own copy. It probably wasn’t the neighbor’s copy, we  probably got it at a garage sale, but gain one we did. And our lives were forever changed.

At some point that neighbor’s boat caught on fire. Probably unrelated.

My memory on what we used it to cheat with is also extremely shaky, which is strange, because we owned that thing for a while, and we had a pretty extensive NES library before it was, like all consoles are, eventually sold off in a garage sale. Heck, we had that huge book of codes that came with the Genie, even. But all I ever remember cheating with it on is the original Super Mario Bros. But cheat we did. There was the super jump, which could let you skip entire levels just by jumping over them. There was the moon gravity cheat, which made everyone move slowly and jump farther. There was the ability to start on any level you wanted, right from the start. We abused all of them, mostly just for the amusement of the crazy things we could get Mario to do. I don’t think we ever even beat the game (blame the impossibly hard World 8 castle, with its stupidly tricky labyrinth) but the things we could do with that Genie…

The thing about cheat codes is that, before the internet, no one really knew them. Heck, I don’t even know if they existed on consoles prior to the beginning of my relationship with Goldeneye 007, other than one small one that you could put in at the beginning of the original Sonic the Hedgehog. I’m not really sure what it did, but it made that ring chime noise, which was pretty cool. And even that code I didn’t learn until (or whatever it was, something .cc) became a popular enough site for someone to direct me to it on our 56k modem.

I fully blame the cheating degenerates that my brother and I devolved into entirely on the Game Genie. SimCity 2000, Warcraft and its sequel, Soul Reaver, Siphon Filter, all of them were laid to waste by our cheating souls.

But considering how much cut content Soul Reaver had, the cheats were pretty awesome.

After a while, though, the gaming experience gets really lessened by cheating, and you find it really hard to cut back. It’s addictive. I still think of that part of my life as one where I didn’t enjoy the games I played as much as I could have. Heck, even with both Prima guides to Starcraft (now that battlechest had some impressive meat) I still couldn’t beat it without cheats, something I’m ashamed to admit to this day.

Eventually I cut myself off from them, something made even easier by fading away of Game Genies and Sharks from the mainstream usage. The advent of the internet also helped shepherd these things away: when you hear about a cheat from some guy who knew someone else who had a friend who worked at Nintendo, and you find out that it works, there’s something special and magical about that. But when you just look it up, probably at good ol’ fashioned GameFAQs, well, it loses the magic.

Luckily for young us, genies are inherently magical



Leave a Comment
  1. sarahtherebel / Apr 5 2011 7:20 AM

    Seriously? You never beat Super Mario Bros? LOL cheating must have rusted up your actual gaming skills!

    I never was a fan of cheating, even when I was a kid. The biggest cheat thrill I had was remembering the code in Aladdin that the games give you if you did something or other. Can’t really remember. But anyhoo nowadays even when I get stuck on a level, I dont even look up walkthroughs until my second play through of a game. Guess I’m a “Stuck Up Gamer”.

    Although, my nephew really wanted a gameshark, and I remember he and I being quite envious of his friend’s shark back in the day.

    Thanks for bringing up all these memories LOL

  2. GameSquire / May 10 2011 8:26 PM

    My experience with cheating is that its very addictive, I don’t cheat ALL the time, but I do see why some players do. I usually beat the game first before cheating, sometimes goof around with cheating first, then play the game from beginning without the cheats.

    I don’t have much experience with GameGenie and GameShark (and other related cheating devices), but the first time (and about the only time) I used a cheating device is when I use a GameShark on Pokemon Blue and Gold versions, I use the shark mostly for the reason that I wanted to capture Mew and Celebi, but it was pretty fun as well when I be able to use some Pokemon moves with Pokemon that couldn’t be able to learn them begin with, like Venusaur that knows Ice Beam and Fly.

    And by any chance if anyone is looking for some codes for the GameShark or Game Genie, here is a couple of links you might be interested in:

    I really like your images in your post by the way l)


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