Spiffing Reads: Game Genie, Knightmare and Korean Office Workers

A short one this week, kicking off with some retro-gaming nostalgia.

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Game Genie declassified: That summer I played 230 Game Boy games (Eurogamer)

Do you remember the Game Genie? It emerged after Codemasters worked out a way to get around Nintendo’s restrictions on who could produce NES software by bypassing the infamous 10NES lockout chip. This resulted in various ‘plug-thru’ game cartridges that required an official cart to be plugged into them to work, and later some unofficial carts with a switch that overrode the lockout chip by, well, zapping it (you can see some of the cart designs here). But another thing that emerged from all this mucking around with Nintendo hardware was the Game Genie – Codemasters realised that you could intercept the data between the cartridge and the machine and change some of the values, and the NES version was followed up with versions for the Game Boy and Mega Drive. Typing codes into the Game Genie would get you things like infinite lives or continues, or allow you to skip levels. But I never knew how they came up with those codes until reading this article – it turns out it was a teenager who played hundreds of games all summer.

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Meeting the Winners of ‘Knightmare’, the ‘Dark Souls’ of Children’s TV (Vice)

I used to love watching Knightmare. It was a ridiculously hard children’s TV show where kids were sent to explore a CG dungeon while blindfolded – their friends had to guide them through the various traps and perils. I don’t ever recall anyone finishing the dungeon, but it seems that at least some people did make it through, and it’s interesting to hear their stories of the show. Also see this excellent old Guardian article on the making of the show.

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A Smartphone Game That Captures the Futility of “Work-Life Balance” (The New Yorker)

Always interesting to read a take on video gaming from the mainstream media. This article focuses on the satirical game Don’t Get Fired!, which lambasts office working practices in Korea. Doesn’t sound like a Dark Souls beater to me, but how wide gaming’s net has become that we can see such esoteric topics emerging in video game form…


Spiffing Reads is a regular feature where we pick out the best gaming articles of the week. If you’ve read anything interesting, please let us know in the comments.

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for sharing – we watched Knightmare as kids as well, a show I remember being remarkably tense! The “Dark Soul’s of kid’s television indeed.

    The contestants were against the clock (didn’t their “life force” drain constantly, unless they picked up food?), most of the rooms had wizards or giant spiders or traps or floor tiles that fell away (again, timed), they had to solve puzzles – and of course a bunch of kids had to guide their teammate, effectively blindfolded: “turn 90 degrees to the right – no, your other right – walk – faster – turn another 90 degrees – sidestep – oh god! RUN!”

    How anyone ever beat this thing is a mystery.

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