GameShark

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GameShark is the brand name of a line of video game cheat cartridges and other products for a variety of console video game systems and Windows-based computers. Currently, the brand name is owned by Mad Catz, which marketed GameShark products for the Sony PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo game consoles. Players load cheat codes from GameShark discs or cartridges onto the console's internal or external memory, so that when the game is loaded, the selected cheats can be applied.

Cheat cartridge

A cheat cartridge is a device that connects to any sort of cartridge-based video game system. It allows a user to input special cheat codes to manipulate a game in a way not permitted by its original programming. Usually the effect is to gain infinite lives, ammunition, unlock secrets, or do things that would otherwise allow an unfair advantage. Some games have codes to activate unreleased levels, weapons, or items that may not have been available normally, and some even have codes to access debug menus used by programmers. Equivalent non-cartridge devices have been released and sold for modern game systems that use optical media instead of cartridges to store games.

Mad Catz

Mad Catz Global Limited is an American company that provides interactive entertainment products marketed under Mad Catz, GameShark and TRITTON. Mad Catz developed flight simulation software through its internal ThunderHawk Studios, developed flight simulation and chess hardware under its Saitek brand, published games under its Mad Catz brand, and distributed games and video game products for third-party partners. The company was incorporated in Canada and headquartered in San Diego, California. Mad Catz had offices in North America, Europe and Asia.

Xbox (console) 2000 video game console by Microsoft

The Xbox is a home video game console and the first installment in the Xbox series of consoles manufactured by Microsoft. It was released as Microsoft's first foray into the gaming console market on November 15, 2001, in North America, followed by Australia, Europe and Japan in 2002. It is classified as a sixth generation console, competing with Sony's PlayStation 2 and Nintendo's GameCube. It was also the first console produced by an American company since the Atari Jaguar ceased production in 1996.

Contents

Products

When the original GameShark was released, it came with 4,000 preloaded codes. Codes could be entered, but unlike the Game Genie, codes were saved in the onboard flash memory and could be accessed later rather than having to be reentered. The cartridges also acted as memory cards, with equal or greater storage capacity to the consoles' first party memory cards. [1] It was originally released for the Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation consoles in January 1996. [2] It was a runner-up for Electronic Gaming Monthly 's Best Peripheral of 1996 (behind the Saturn analog controller). [3] Models for the PlayStation had an Explorer option that allowed gamers to access most PlayStation disc files, and it was possible to view FMV files stored on the CD. The later models of the GameShark also had a Use Enhancement Disc option. The Enhancement Disc, which InterAct sold for $4.95, allowed users to upgrade the GameShark and add codes to the code list from the disc. Only a few examples of these Upgrade CDs were known to have been published.

Game Genie is the name of a line of video game cheat cartridges originally designed by Codemasters and sold by Camerica and Galoob. The first device in the series was released in 1990 for the Nintendo Entertainment System, with subsequent devices released for the Super NES, Game Boy, Genesis, and Game Gear. All the devices temporarily modify game data, manipulate various aspects of games, and sometimes access unused assets and functions. Five million units of the original Game Genie products were sold worldwide, and most video game console emulators feature Game Genie code 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, between three and six codes.

<i>Electronic Gaming Monthly</i> American video game magazine

Electronic Gaming Monthly is a monthly American video game magazine. It offers video game news, coverage of industry events, interviews with gaming figures, editorial content, and product reviews.

The PlayStation GameShark had the following standard features: View Video Image, which allowed users to see the last image stored in the PlayStation's Video RAM, View CD Image, which allowed a user to search the game CD for image files, Play Music, which would play the CD audio, and View CD Movie, a function that allowed a user to view FMV (full motion video) files found on the disc. Also included was the option to use an Enhancement CD in order to upgrade the GameShark and add new codes found on the disc.

GameShark Pro

The GameShark Pro series contained a feature that allowed players to find their own codes. During gameplay, the user presses a button on the device to open a code search menu. Finding code is done by searching memory locations either for specific values or for values that have changed in a certain way (increased, decreased, not changed, etc.) since the last search. After the first search, subsequent searches only look at memory locations that match the specified criteria from the last search. By performing multiple searches the list of matching locations is gradually reduced. Once the list is reasonably small the user must determine which of the found locations is the correct one by modifying them one at a time and seeing what effect it has on the game.

In some games, the resulting code may only work in one level or it may cause problems in other parts of the game due to memory locations being dynamically assigned. In these cases, the user has two options: attempt to locate a pointer to the data block that their code is attempting to modify or change the game's programming which is usually located at the same place every time. If a pointer is found, and the device supports it, a new code can be made which determines the correct location to modify from the pointer. If the device does not support pointers the game programming must be changed instead. Generally, the user must use external tools to find the code that accesses this data. If the code is reading from memory it may be changed to read a constant value; if it is writing, it may be changed to not perform the write. These changes may not have the same overall effects as when actually modifying the game's code. For example, a user may disable the routine that causes the player character to lose health when touched by enemies, only to find that health is still lost from other hazards.

Pointer (computer programming) programming language data type

In computer science, a pointer is a programming language object that stores the memory address of another value located in computer memory. A pointer references a location in memory, and obtaining the value stored at that location is known as dereferencing the pointer. As an analogy, a page number in a book's index could be considered a pointer to the corresponding page; dereferencing such a pointer would be done by flipping to the page with the given page number and reading the text found on that page. The actual format and content of a pointer variable is dependent on the underlying computer architecture.

Nintendo 64 GameShark

GameShark 2.2 (top), Pro 3.0 (left), and Pro 3.3's added SharkLink port (right) Gameshark-Trio.JPG
GameShark 2.2 (top), Pro 3.0 (left), and Pro 3.3's added SharkLink port (right)

A GameShark was released for the Nintendo 64 in late August 1997. [4] The Nintendo 64 GameShark was the most popular cheating device available for the system, becoming popular after well-known titles such as GoldenEye 007 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time were released. Because of the complex nature of these games, there were many aspects of them which could be modified to produce unique effects. For example, unused content was discovered such as a distant tower on the "Dam" level of GoldenEye 007.

Nintendo 64 1996 video game console

The Nintendo 64 (officially abbreviated as N64, model number: NUS), stylized as NINTENDO64, is a home video game console developed and marketed by Nintendo. Named for its 64-bit central processing unit, it was released in June 1996 in Japan, September 1996 in North America and Brazil, March 1997 in Europe and Australia, and September 1997 in France. It was the last major home console to use the cartridge as its primary storage format until the Nintendo Switch in 2017. The Nintendo 64 was discontinued in mid-2002 following the launch of its successor, the GameCube, in 2001.

<i>GoldenEye 007</i> (1997 video game) 1997 video game

GoldenEye 007 is a first-person shooter video game developed by Rare and based on the 1995 James Bond film GoldenEye. It was released for the Nintendo 64 video game console in August 1997. The game features a single-player campaign in which players assume the role of British Secret Intelligence Service agent James Bond as he fights to prevent a criminal syndicate from using a satellite weapon against London to cause a global financial meltdown. The game includes a split-screen multiplayer mode in which up to four players can compete in different types of deathmatch games.

<i>The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time</i> 1998 video game for the Nintendo 64

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is an action-adventure game developed and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo 64. It was released in Japan and North America in November 1998, and in Europe, Australia and New Zealand the following month. Ocarina of Time is the fifth game in the Legend of Zelda series, and the first with 3D graphics. Originally developed for the 64DD peripheral, it was instead released on a 256-megabit (32-megabyte) cartridge, the largest-capacity cartridge Nintendo produced at that time.

The Nintendo 64 GameShark Pro featured an in-game code search menu. Versions 3.1, 3.2 & 3.3 had a parallel port on the back, allowing the device to be connected to a PC with a program called SharkLink. This was intended primarily to make entering a large number of codes easier but was also used for advanced hacking. The in-game code search required that an Expansion Pak be installed and that the game did not actively use the Pak for memory.

PlayStation GameShark Pro

The original hardware-based GameShark for the PlayStation GameShark-PlayStation.jpg
The original hardware-based GameShark for the PlayStation

The PlayStation GameShark Pro contained much of the same functionality as the standard PlayStation GameShark, as well as unique features only found on the Pro. The advanced features were: Code Creation, which gave users the option to save newly created codes to a standard PlayStation memory card to share with others, and V-Mem (Virtual Memory), which gave users access to an onboard Memory Card feature where they could store up to 8 full memory cards worth of saves. The Shark Link software suffered from the same problems that plagued the N64 version. The final firmware/software update for the PlayStation GameShark Pro hardware was version 3.2 (v3.2), which was made available on physical media titled "The BigWave 4".

Virtual memory Operating System level memory management technique

In computing, virtual memory is a memory management technique that provides an "idealized abstraction of the storage resources that are actually available on a given machine" which "creates the illusion to users of a very large (main) memory."

GameShark CDX

With the introduction of the 9000 model of the PlayStation, the parallel port was removed. This had been the only way to use the GameShark, as it plugged directly into that port. InterAct then created a GameShark that did not need it. The GameShark CDX came with a boot CD along with a card resembling a standard memory card, which stored the codes. Even though the CDX could be upgraded, it is not known if InterAct created an upgrade for the CDX. The CDX is not compatible with either PS2 system.

GameShark 2

The GameShark 2 was very much like the CDX Game Shark that came out for the original PlayStation, but for the PlayStation 2. It even included features that could only be found on the GameShark Pro, but like the CDX Game Shark that came out for the original PlayStation, codes could be saved to a memory card, one which resembled that came with the CDX version. It was released the Fall of 2000 and included a CD-only Game Shark 2 for the original PlayStation 2 containing over 14,000 codes.

GameShark for Game Boy

Released in 1998 for the Game Boy and Game Boy Color. Preloaded with codes for 158 games, but unfortunately, new codes could not be saved. It did, however, contain a feature called Game Trainer, which was a way to create new codes. Memory Erase was an additional feature which allowed users to clear all saves from a Game Boy cart. The GameShark for the Game Boy can also be used with the Game Boy Advance, as long as the cart connected is either for Game Boy or for Game Boy Color. It cannot be used for Game Boy Advance carts.

The original Game Boy GameShark could be used with the Game Boy Color, which it predated. However, due to the low height of the outside cartridge slot, the connected game cartridge would be pushed outward by the Game Boy Color's battery compartment, which, unlike those of previous Game Boy models, curved outward from the rear surface of the device. The later GameShark Pro featured a longer cartridge which held the connected game cartridge higher so as to avoid this flaw.

The GameShark Pro for Game Boy allowed for saving new codes.

Media

Almost as soon as the GameShark made its appearance on the store shelves, new codes began to appear in the gaming magazines of the day. In order to create more interest as well as a way to get the word out on their new products, InterAct created a newsletter called 'Dangerous Waters' (which was published eight times a year starting in 1996 and featured new codes), a phone number which players could call for the up-to-the-minute latest codes, and a website with exclusive codes that could only be accessed by those with a full Dangerous Waters membership. [1] GameShark.com also first appeared on the net around this time. Due to the increasing popularity of Dangerous Waters, it went from a black and white 8-page newsletter to full color bimonthly by 1999 and featured game reviews as well as tricks. Then, in June 2000, Dangerous Waters was transformed into a full-fledged magazine called GameShark Magazine and continued to be published bimonthly, reaching up to 20 pages long and containing many more codes. However, due to problems with Mad Catz, GameShark Magazine ceased publication with the Holiday 2001 issue. This last issue was a double issue, containing the last GameShark Magazine issue, as well as a special issue by IGN as it was their 2001 Buyer's Guide. It featured new games and systems that were available at the time. It also included a Game Shark CD Sampler disc which featured codes for the PlayStation 2, as well as a handful of game saves.

Brand history

When the Game Boy device was first released, InterAct acquired the rights to sell Datel's Action Replay and Pro Action Replay devices in North America; these devices were sold under the GameShark and GameShark Pro names. InterAct released GameShark devices for the Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, Saturn, Dreamcast and Nintendo 64. After InterAct's parent company, Recoton, went bankrupt, the rights to the GameShark name were acquired by Mad Catz, who relinquished the North American Action Replay distribution rights. Following this, Mad Catz sold game save devices under the GameShark name instead of the traditional cheat device, and Datel marketed the Action Replay in North America directly. Since acquired by Mad Catz the original site for GameShark has been shut down, and no products associated with Gameshark have been sold on their site.

All platforms

GameShark for the Sega Saturn Sega-Saturn-GameShark.jpg
GameShark for the Sega Saturn

GameShark products have been released for the following platforms:

See also

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Action Replay

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SharkWire Online

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References

  1. 1 2 "Cheating Comes to 32-Bit Systems". Electronic Gaming Monthly . No. 78. Ziff Davis. January 1996. pp. 88–89.
  2. "32-Bit Game Busters". GamePro . No. 88. IDG. January 1996. p. 23.
  3. "The Best of '96". Electronic Gaming Monthly . No. 92. Ziff Davis. March 1997. p. 90.
  4. "Buyers Beware". GamePro . No. 107. IDG. August 1997. p. 18.