Not An Omnipotent Genie
The original Game Genie was released in 1990 by Galoob for the Nintendo Entertainment System and it was, for all intents and purposes, a “hack n’ patch” cartridge. You attached your game cartridges to the Genie, which in turn was inserted into your NES. From there, you could input simple alpha-numeric codes that could potentially do everything from making you invincible to giving you infinite cash. Game Genie eventually went on to support the SNES, Gameboy, Genesis and even Game Gear. Unfortunately it wasn’t as profitable as Galoob hoped and the company went out of business with the Genie itself fading into gaming history. At least until now. In 2010, the patent on the Game Genie expired, and now, two years later, Hyperkin presents a new version of the infamous cheat accessory, with this first version appearing on the PS3.
The PS3 version is a simple USB stick, but it has some specific requirements. In addition to requiring a PS3, you’ll also need a PC running Windows XP Vista, or 7 in order to work. You first insert the Game Genie into your PS3, select the save you want to modify from your Game Save Data folder and copy it over. Once that’s done, you take the stick and plug it into your PC, install the software there, and it makes a quick check with the Hyperkin database to see if any of your chosen games saves are supported by the current library. Admittedly, this library actually isn’t that large right now. At the time of this writing, only 71 games are currently recognized by the Genie for cheats, with more being added every few days.
First, let’s go over the good stuff. The Game Genie works EXACTLY as advertised, and when it does, it works well. I ran the Game Genie through a few games, including Nier, Grand Theft Auto IV, Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy XIII-2, Red Dead Redemption, Tales of Graces F and Skyrim. In each case, the Game Genie did exactly what it was supposed to do, and rendered cheats onto the game save that, when loaded back up onto the PS3 and used to overwrite the old game save, worked perfectly. It was even possible to trophy-whore Nier with the infinite money cheat by loading that in, going to a store and buying something, which instantly kicked in the trophy for having a million or more in game currency. So if you find a good cheat available for a game, you can rest assured it will work as advertised, and, for the unsporting, may even speed up the trophy-whoring process for tedious grinding, like the tendency of JRPGs to require you to gather materials and/or money to craft and/or buy every available weapon and power it up to maximum rank.
On the down side, there’s the fact that only 71 games are currently represented, and of those 71 games, many, many, MANY games only have one code, or codes that do relatively little. Batman: Arkham Asylum for example, only has one useful code for leveling up, while the remaining two are for unlocking artwork and comic character bios. Hardly the kinds of cheats most would be interested in. I was particularly disappointed in my attempt to cheat Skyrim. My own original playthrough was thwarted by bugged quests that wouldn’t let me progress any further, and Bethesda’s subsequent patches did nothing to fix the problem so I abandoned my game as I was unwilling to invest another 160+ hours. I thought with Game Genie, I might be able to at least speed things up in a restart by giving myself the Daedric weapons and dragon armor I’d legitimately crafted in my original playthrough. Unfortunately, Skyrim has only ONE cheat available right now, and that’s for maxing out your money. That’s it.
In that regard, the Game Genie is something best looked at as an investment in the future, assuming you’re planning on keeping your PS3 around for the next year or two and not jumping ship to a new console. The Hyperkin staff is working to provide new codes for games, and IF they support this product with a decent number of regular updates, some real potential exists for people to keep this accessory around and have fun messing with their games. However, right now, the pickings are extremely slim, with big titles Grand Theft Auto IV only having one cheat—again for max cash—while smaller titles like the JRPG Tales of Graces F enjoy 422. Big titles like the Mass Effect series aren’t even supported at all.
At $30, this is actually not an expensive device, far cheaper than the games themselves when they’re brand new. But I’d strongly advise people who are interested in it to first check and see if the games they are interested in cheating are supported, and to what degree. I anticipate a lot of people with hopes restarting Skyrim with a new character and an unfair edge are in for some serious disappointment.
And yes, this does need to be addressed; to some degree, this is a must-buy for unscrupulous trophy-whores who only care about the trophy count and not how those trophies were acquired. It can speed some things up tremendously, although great caution should be exercised. It can also lock out certain trophies, if, for example, you grant yourself a high-powered story item and that actually bypasses a checkpoint the game was looking for to unlock the appropriate trophy. Caveat emptor for the morally ambiguous gamer, in such cases. For everyone else, this is a little bit of waiting game. If Hyperkin gets more cheats for more games, and those cheats do more than simply grant cash and unlock bonus materials, this will be a much safer, more fun investment.