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The Game Genie and it’s Legacy

As I was about to write another blog post, I stumbled upon this.

It’s a Game Genie for  the PS3 and it seems they’re still supporting it too, albeit from a different company now it seems. I remember when Codemasters had these out for the SNES, literal middleware that you stick between the SNES cartridge and the SNES console like you see below. The first generation models were even out for the NES.

200px-game-genie-snes

I always wondered why these didn’t make it to the later generation of consoles,but it seems like a combination of legal disputes with NINTENDO and technical constraints (as NINTENDO started implementing ROM checksums in their games to detect tampering) and the GameShark taking over in the next gen consoles like the PS one.

800px-gameshark-playstation

I loved having this back in the SNES days, mind you, this was when dial up wasn’t common for kids to have yet, at least for me. So I had to resort to the Game Genie pamphlet or on actual game magazines for codes. In my experience, this was the first mainstream cheating/hacking tool for video games.

It’s a shame now that with the popularity of online games and free2play games, that cheating has taken on a negative stigma. Back then when mutliplayer wasn’t a thing yet, it was a way to mold the game to meet your level of play, explore the limits of the game and experiment. I remember codes for Mario that would allow you to mold the playstyle or even jump so high that you’d reach the height limit of the game.

You don’t see as many developers including these mechanics in the game even as unlockables nowadays like how they did with Metal Gear Solid’s stealth unlock or unlimited ammo bandanna. Even more so with multiplayer titles like COD and Battlefield where they need to keep balance and deter cheating completely.

But for your emulated games, they come bundled with the emulator and may even have the codes pre-programmed in the emulator. If not, there’s always GameFAQs and other resources for cheating tables for your cheating fix.

In your more modern games, there’s now a strong and thriving demand for cheats but even more so now in the multiplayer gaming market. CS:GO, Overwatch, Call of Duty, Battlefield all have some form of anti-cheat measures on both the client and server side to detect and ban cheaters, that has given rise to a whole industry of cheating and anti-cheat services and tools.

On the cheating side, you have the likes of Cheat Happens and Aim Junkies, that sell trainers, or programs online with built in hacks to use in your popular games. Please don’t start cheating, it destroys player bases due to shitty matches, can get you banned and overall is a dick way to play a game in my opinion. These guys make cash off players that want an edge or even in some cases, target rich players who are willing to burn through multiple copies of games and accounts just to grief people and an advantage over other players.

CSGO-Screenshot-2

The types of hacks you see in shooters are generally based on information the client receives. For example:

Wall Hacks: Allows you to view other players through walls, using their location info
ESP: Displays player data that is not usually displayed using client data
Aimbots: Automatically scripted to shoot specified groups or targets in set locations using either screen or client location position data. e.g. Head
Speedhacks: Toggle movement speed of your character by modding game or system speed clock
and so on…

Luckily, we have the likes of Fairfight, BattleEye and Easy AntCheat for fighting these vulnerabilities. Problem is, they’ve gotten a lot of flack from gaming communities for issues with the game, additional installs, effectiveness, etc. Of course, developers might develop thier own features to combat cheating. Ubisoft was one of them, but they hit problems fast with their release of the Division.

The guys over at Easy Anti-Cheat held a solid session at Steam Dev Days last year regarding online cheating in games and I recommend you check it out if you’re interested.

Still, all in all it’s pretty amazing to think that some Game Genie cartridge business basically evolved to the massive back-and-forth between hackers trying to make a buck off players and the anti-cheat developers today and I’m not even getting into the mobile stuff and in-game purchases. That’s quite some legacy for some random middlewaare gaming cartridge to leave behind. What are your thoughts on cheating, single or multiplayer?

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