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CREATED APR.02.2002
UPDATED APR.02.2002
CODEMASTERS, CAMERICA, GAMEGENIE AND MORE
CHEAT UNTIL YOU'RE DIZZY
Camerica is probably the best known unlicensed company. Not only did they fight and defeat the mighty Nintendo empire in their home country, Canada, when they released the UK, Codemasters, developed Game Genie. The Game Genie was an adaptor which could be attached to a game cartridge before inserting it into the NES console and would allow the user to make the game easier to complete (cheat). Originally the Game Genie was called "Power Pak" and was, as mentioned earlier, developed by the UK upcomming software developer, Codemasters. After a few modifications to the Power Pak, as well as the new name for the gadget, it was ready to be released in Canada.... well almost.

Because in the US, the San Francisco based manufacturer of the Game Genie, Lewis Galoob, was also ready to release the Genie in June 1990, but thanks to a lawsuit from Nintendo, the sale of the Game Genie didn't appen until a year later when Nintendo had lost the lawsuit. Camerica didn't have much trouble winning in Canada and released the Game Genie. Their advertisement in videogame magazines said "Thank you Canada".

In July 1991 the court gave Galoob the green light to release the Game Genie. The initial order in the US alone was more than half a million units. A massive advertising campaign was made for the Christmas sale and the 800.000 units Galoob was able to produce was sold that year. The year after it was Europe's turn to discover the amazing Game Genie, TV commercials were launched with the words "take your old NES games out of the closet and play them again with the Game Genie!, more power, more lives.... Game Genie!". So the Christmas 1992 sale in Europe had Game Genie written all over it, I even wished for one myself back then. Initial retail price was around $60.

Earlier Camerica had released various oddities such as the Freedom Connection, a gadget which would make any joypad or zapper wireless, pretty neat for playing Wild Gunman I guess. As far as the story goes, Camerica decided to sell their Game Genie rights ro Galoob, and they once again teamed up with their chums in the United Kingdom, this time to try their luck being publisher of Codemasters latest work, a game with an egg as the main character, also known as Dizzy.

Codemasters completed their first NES game, The Fantastic Adventures of Dizzy, in September 1990. But due to the fight Galoob, and Codemasters, were having in the US, the game was delayed until April 1991. Codemasters and Camerica had hoped to sell over half a million copies of the game, but it only sold 125.000 eventhough it was awarded NES Adventure Game of the Year 1991 by Game Players Magazine and given the coveted Parents Choice Award.

Next game to be released, September 1991, was Firehawk, an updated version of old Amstrad game called Operation Gunship. Last game to make it into retail in 1991 was Bignose the Caveman, an odd platform and badly made game featuring a caveman collecting dogbones, he later appeared in a more original game titles Big Nose Freaks Out. But 1992 became a big year for Codemasters and Camerica, with lots of releases such as the Quattro series of only 3 game carts, but with 4 games on each cart (Quattro Adventure, Quattro Sports, Quattro Arcade). A new and interesting character was introduced, called Linus Spacehead, bringing a good mix of platform and adventure fun to the Nintendo Entertainment System in Linus Spacehead's Cosmic Crusade. The worst of all Codemasters developed NES games also appeared in 1992, Mig 29. Codemasters got licensed by Galoob, who earlier got the Game Genie, to bring Micro Machines to the NES, and becomming the best ever Codemasters NES game. All Camerica cartridges were nice and shiny gold or silver colored,

Still things weren't exactly great for Camerica, who even hired the 1990 Nintendo World Championship winner Thor Aackerlund to appear in their ads. Nintendo wasn't too happy about it all, but atleast didn't "take away" his title. But they didn't really acknowledge me and never wanted to have anything to do with a world competition again. They lost a lot of money on the 1990 NWC, the first and last Nintendo World Championships. Their TV broadcast deal fell through, so there went a whole lot of their potential profits. Aackerlund says.

The year 1993 came and a big decision was made. Both Codemasters and Camerica were tired of high production costs, and the Codemasters research department came up with something new they called "The Aladdin System". The system had two parts, a so-called master cart which included all the basic things in a Codemasters/Camerica cartride, and a ROM part which contained the actual game. The Aladdin System was renamed to the Aladdin Deck Enhancer and prototypes were finalized. So Codemasters set up a production line for the Aladdin Deck Enhancer and advetisement of the system started showing at home shopping channels.

But Camerica ran out of air, leaving Codemasters in the dust. They were bearing all the production costs for the Aladdin Deck Enhancer, and as it didn't sell, atleast not in larger quantities, it could be the end of Codemasters aswell. Something had to happen fast. Codemasters had already tried their luck in Europe with a few NES releases of games such as Fantastic Adventures of Dizzy and Micro Machines in a so-called "plug-thru" format, the carts looked pretty much like a Game Genie. But times were rough in 1993, a few Dizzy games quickly got converted to the Sega Master System and Sega Game Gear and all the NES games were relaunched, but this time in a very cheap run of cartridges in Aladdin Deck Enhancer like cartridges, using EPROMS, and still writing "presented by Camerica" on the titlescreen.

The Aladdin Deck Enhancer idea was scrapped, eventhough serveral boxes were made, and compatibility even meant it could be used on just about any European NES console, instead Codemasters kept silent about the future of the Aladdin Deck Enhancer, but all "comming soon" games were cancelled, games such as Dream World Pogie, Eon Man, Team Sports Basketball amd Metal Man, games that never saw the light of day, not even as a regular Camerica/Codemasters NES cartridge.

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