[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Rub the Game Genie

March 9th, 2009 by Benj Edwards

Game Genie SNES Game Boy Ad - 1993Your wish is my command.

If my previous posts on the Game Genie are any indication (wow, they’re from 2005 — that’s vintage), then I’m a huge fan of the game-manipulating device — assuming, of course, that my 2005 self wasn’t lying just to throw off the accuracy of a future Retro Scan post.

But heck; I shouldn’t have to read my old blog posts to know that. In the early 1990s, I spent untold numbers of hours developing my own Game Genie codes for games like Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 3 on the NES, and also for Super Mario Land for the Game Boy (I need to make a homebrew gallery about that). I loved the Game Boy Game Genie so much that I took a hacksaw to its extraneous plastic parts so it would fit on the Super Game Boy. It was a weird kind of love, but it worked.

From there, I moved on to the Super NES Game Genie (I don’t recall developing my own codes for that), and I eventually bought a used Game Genie for the Sega Genesis. The only one I never acquired was the Sega Game Gear version. But I didn’t have a Game Gear back then, so that would have just been silly.

[ From Electronic Gaming Monthly, November 1993 ]

Discussion topic of the week: The Game Genie: reality-bending peripheral or wussy crutch for bad players?

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10 Responses to “[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Rub the Game Genie”

  1. jdiwnab Says:

    I used some game cheats once in an RPG that I was getting my butt handed to with. The cheat made me essentially completely level up, so the whole rest of the game was way too easy. Took all the fun out, and I got near the end and didn’t bother finishing it. I’ve used guides since then, but never cheat codes and the like.

  2. Tim Says:

    Ah, the Game Boy Game Genie… It is the first, and to this day, only K-mart blue light special I’ve ever purchased. I couldn’t pass it up for $1.99!

  3. JackSoar Says:

    The Game Genie (as well as similar devices like the Action Replay and the Game Shark) was cool because it allowed you to muck around with your console games back when modding and hacking were normally reserved for computer games only, and even then only by those possessing the technical knowledge to do so. Before roms and emulators, and before the ability to download editing programs for any number of computer games, devices like the Game Genie were the only way most people could tweak their games.

    Personally, I think that once you buy a game, you should be able to mess around with it in any way you see fit. I kind of dislike the fact that the current consoles lack such peripherals as the Game Genie. I understand that due to such things as online play, achievements, etc. these devices would prove problematic, but I still think that a person should be able to edit any game they have purchased for their own personal use.

  4. Multimedia Mike Says:

    The Game Genie: Fascinating bit of technical trivia for hardcore Nintendo nerds like myself. I didn’t care about the GG myself until I endeavored to add support for GG codes to a NES emulator I was helping to maintain. I also wrote a document about how the codes work: http://tuxnes.sourceforge.net/gamegenie.html

    Just curious: how did you actually create new codes? Brute force? Or did you understand the operation?

  5. Benj Edwards Says:

    It’s funny, Mike: I have a printout of that document you wrote tucked into my Game Genie custom code book. I printed it out in 2000 when I was messing with Game Genie codes again. If only I’d had it in the early 1990s when I was experimenting with the GG full-force.

    As a kid, I created new GG codes by a few methods. One was just by randomly typing characters into the GG, seeing if it worked. If it did, I’d modify the code to get different effects. The random method was tedious because you had to write down every random combination before you started or else you lost it. As you can imagine, I wrote down a bunch of junk.

    Another method was to modify GG codes in the official book. I figured out early on that you could change, say, the number of extra lives by altering a few characters in a code. And that was long before I understood hex. 🙂

  6. Fessic Says:

    I was one of those kids who went out and bought one for the SNES, thinking it had the ability to unlock an extra character in Street Fighter II.

    Turned out to be a rumor I think, and don’t believe I ever used it for anything else. Guess I’ll go with ‘reality-bending crutch for gullible players.’

  7. Geoff V. Says:

    My brother and I had one for the original Game Boy. Game Genie worked on a lot games we had, yet we rarely used it. However, it was the only way to play, let alone beat, a few of our favorite games. Star Trek: 25th Anniversary was {bleeping} impossible without extra lives.

  8. Rockin' Kat Says:

    I had a friend who had a game genie for his NES. I’ve never used one in mine though, the NES game genie made the pins in the cartidge port wear out faster.

    I can’t use the NES game genie in my NES now because it pushes the pins out the back of the aftermarket cartridge port. I freaked out at first but I was able to push them back into place. Damn that pissed me off. Stupid ZIF socket.

    I do have Game Geneie for Game Boy, SNES, and Genesis. I didn’t know there was one for Game Gear. I’m not really playing my older systems much at the moment, but when I get back into it, likely later this year, I totally intend to mess around with the GG’s on those systems. There are only so many games I have enough patience for to play without cheating at. When my friend and I used the NES game genie at his house it was almost always infinite life codes. It was always a crutch for us. We were very wussy.

  9. Agentflit Says:

    SMB is very hackable and you can really screw up mario’s little world. See here:


    I have four game genies hooked into each other right now, and with that many codes you can create scenarios like “all enemies are hammer bros but if you touch them they die instantly and also you are in some weird clouds only level with drunken music” or “slow motion glitcherific psychedelic slide show where princess-headed koopas fall randomly from the sky but the game is still perfectly playable”.

    You can do this with an emulator too but many of the codes will behave very differently.

  10. Cody Says:

    I remember seeing these in the 90s, and wishing I could go buy one, but being too poor; I didn’t even own a console until this year.

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