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The Game Genie is a series of cheat systems originally designed by Codemasters and sold by Camerica and Galoob. The first device in the series was released for the Nintendo Entertainment System, with subsequent devices released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy, Mega Drive/Genesis, and Sega Game Gear. All the devices temporarily modify game data, allowing the player to cheat, manipulate various aspects of games and sometimes access unused content and functions. It is known as the first example of consumer-friendly "game enhancement" by means of directly altering the binary code of a game. Five million units of the original Game Genie products were sold worldwide, and most video game console emulators feature Game Genie support. Emulators that have Game Genie support also allow a near-unlimited number of codes to be entered whereas the actual products have a much smaller limit that usually tops between three and six codes.
No Game Genie devices were developed by Codemasters for the fifth generation of consoles. However, other companies have produced similar hacking devices such as the Code Breaker and GameShark. The Game Genie brand was later revived by the company Hyperkin, who released cheat systems for newer consoles.
 Operation and design
The original Game Genie devices attached to cartridges and acted as pass-through to the console. Upon starting the console, the player may enter a series of characters referred to as a "code" or several such series that reference addresses in the ROM of the cartridge. Each code contains an integer value that is read by the system in place of the data actually present on the cartridge.
Because the Game Genie patches the program code of a game, the codes are sometimes referred to as patch codes. These codes can have a variety of effects. The most popular codes give the player some form of invulnerability, infinite ammunition, level skipping, or other modifications that allow the player to be more powerful than intended by the developers. In rare cases, codes even unlock hidden game features that developers had scrapped and rendered unreachable in normal play. Nonetheless, inputting a random code is as effective as using PEEK and POKE operations randomly. The results can yield a useful code, but will most likely result in anything from a mundane or highly unnoticeable change to freezing the game and possibly corrupting saved data.
The Game Genie was usually sold with a small booklet of discovered codes for use with the system. However, these booklets would eventually become obsolete as new codes were discovered and new games were released that were not covered. To address this, an update system was implemented, where subscribers would receive quarterly booklet updates for a fee. In addition Galoob also ran ads in certain gaming publications (such as GamePro) that featured codes for newer games. Today, these codes and many others discovered by players can be found for free online.
The Game Genie attaches to the end of the NES cartridge, causing the cartridge to protrude from the console when fully inserted, making the depression impossible. Therefore, the Game Genie was designed in such a way that it did not need to be depressed in order to start the game. This design put even more stress on the ZIF socket than standard game insertion, bending pins and eventually causing units to be unplayable without the Game Genie present.
The design of the Game Genie also made it very difficult to insert into a newer top-loading NES. An adaptor was made to deal with the problem, but few were requested; today they are hard to find since the stock was liquidated.
The Game Genie does not work with Super Nintendo games that contain a performance enhancing chip (e.g. Super FX, SA-1, and S-DD1 chip) such as Star Fox, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, Doom and Street Fighter Alpha 2. It also has problems with the SNS-101 remodel SNES. When used with an SNS-101, only 2 codes can be used at a time, and they must be entered on the top and bottom lines of the Game Genie menu.
 Game Boy
The Game Boy edition similarly has a slot for cartridges while itself needing to be inserted into the console's game slot. It has two face buttons for toggling codes on/off or to return to the code input screen, and it houses a compartment to contain a very small code booklet in the back.
The physical design made it difficult to be used with any version of the Game Boy other than the original. Although it could be made to work, if one attempted to use the Game Genie on the Game Boy Pocket or Game Boy Color, they would find the large top portion of the Game Genie would come into contact with the top of the Game Boy Pocket/Color before it was fully engaged. Therefore the Game Genie would need to be bent backwards, placing strain on the mechanism to allow it to be pressed down far enough to reach the Game Boy Pocket/Color cartridge contacts. Despite this history, it will work fairly well with the Game Boy Advance SP. A standard unit will not fit in a Super Game Boy, but with some minor modification to the plastic, it will fit and work normally.
The unit is also not compatible with Game Boy Color cartridges (which will not physically fit into the unit). This, however, includes original Game Boy games with Game Boy Color enhancements, when played in a Game Boy Color or Game Boy Advance system. However, color enhanced games will function if played in an original Game Boy system.
 Sega Genesis
On the Sega Mega Drive/Sega Genesis, the Game Genie can function as a country converter cartridge since most of these games are only "locked" to their respective regions by the shape of the cartridges and a set of a few bytes in the header of the ROM. Some games do not work with the Genesis Game Genie; see "legal issues" below.
 Sega Game Gear
The Sega Game Gear's Game Genie had a more complicated design than those for other systems. When inserted into the cartridge slot, another slot would pop-up to insert the Game Gear cartridge. It also had a compartment which contained a book of codes. The codes were printed on sticky labels to put on the back of the Game Gear cartridge. When entering codes, the player could easily see what to type in rather than looking through the book.
On the screen in which a code is entered for the Game Gear Game Genie, a player typing the word "DEAD" will cause the screen to move up and down, possibly as an Easter egg.
Some games do not work with the Game Genie; for said games see legal issues.
 Legal issues
The introduction of the original NES Game Genie, was met by fierce opposition from Nintendo. Nintendo then sued Galoob in the case Galoob v. Nintendo, claiming that the Game Genie created derivative works in violation of copyright law. Sales of the Game Genie initially stopped in the U.S., but not in Canada. In many gaming magazines of the time, Galoob placed Game Genie ads saying "Thank You Canada!" However, after the courts found that use of the Game Genie did not result in a derivative work, Nintendo could do nothing to stop the Game Genie from being sold in the U.S. Before the lawsuit was filed, Galoob offered to make the Game Genie an officially licensed product but was turned down by Nintendo.
Around the time of the lawsuit from Galoob, Nintendo tried to use other methods to thwart the Game Genie, using ROM checksums in later titles intended to detect the cheat modifications. These measures were partially successful but some could be bypassed with additional codes. Later versions of the Game Genie had the ability to hide Genie modifications from checksum routines.
Sega, on the other hand, was a full endorser of the Game Genie, with their official seal of approval. One of Sega's requirements for this, however, was that the Game Genie wouldn't work with games that have a save feature, such as the Phantasy Star or Shining Force series.
 Distribution in the UK
Distribution of the Game Genie product in the UK was handled by Hornby Hobbies, usually associated with model railways and the Scalextric brand. Working closely with Codemasters they were also responsible for setting up a dedicated telephone helpline to cater for the ever increasing need for newer codes required to cheat/enhance the latest games.
At CES 2012, a company named Hyperkin announced that they were going to bring back the Game Genie for the 3DS, DSi and DSi XL, DS Lite, DS, Wii, PS3, and PSP along with a new device called Save Guru.
 See also
- "Profile: Ted Carron - Producer of Dragon Empires" (Press release). Codemasters. Retrieved 2009-08-17.
- NES Repairs September 22 1997 archived on September 27 2007 from the original
- "Patent, Intellectual Property Attorney, Marc D. Machtinger". Patentstation.com. 1995-06-08. Retrieved 2009-08-17.
- "16 F3d 1032 Nintendo Of America Inc V. Lewis Galoob Toys Inc". Retrieved February 4, 2012.
- "Lewis Galoob Toys, Inc. v. Nintendo of America, Inc., 780 F. Supp. 1283 - Dist. Court, ND California 1991". Retrieved February 4, 2012.
- Hyperkin's Official Blog Post Posted on January 19th, 2012, retrieved on January 21st, 2012