The Genius Of Codemasters

The Genius Of Codemasters

If you look at the simplest of mass produced electronics and I do mean the simplest, then just take a minute to look at the board design, like myself, you may wonder ‘how the hell did they do that?’. Not to put myself down but some of us talk the talk and some of us walk the walk and guess I’m the one talking right now so enough said.

Codemasters have always come across to me and maybe yourself(?) as being very consumer friendly. They have made great games as far back in time as I ever remember and were notorious for making some of the best Playstation games in the form of Dirt 2, Micro Machines and one of the hardest games I ever did play, Operation Flashpoint followed by Dragon Rising / Red River on the 360. Seriously, if you breathed too hard you were dead in that game.

Back in the earlier days though, they produced some really cool stuff that seemed to take gaming up a notch as well as deliver some gaming tricks to not only save them a buck but us gamers too. I do of course refer to the legend that was the NES Pass-Through Cart (Plug-Thru). Now if you are unfamiliar with the Pass-Through, it was like seeing a genuine bonafide company hacking their own products, which was a very bold move back in the day, essentially putting out cartridges containing a ROM and utilising all the extra gubbins from another cart in your collection, which in turn kept production costs down and passed a saving onto you the consumer of the gaming variety. It was a really cool outlook on the gaming industry and rather visionary at the time from a couple of ‘Darling’ brothers that once worked for Mastertronic making simple Spectrum puzzlers and Dizzy (which I can’t class in the same league).

Now although the Pass-Through Cartridges were seen as acceptable, Nintendo really took issue to the Game Genie in 1990, which utilised the same ‘pass’ technique to deliver unlimited cheat-codes into games and as ‘Galoob’ released these throughout the US, that’s who they sued, which was a little harsh considering it was offered as a Nintendo officially branded product but rejected (typical Nin). Anyways, Nintendo lost that battle at a cost of $15 million plus a year’s court fees so decided to start adding checksum technology into their games which was bypassed eventually. All this time, Sega had embraced the Game Genie with just one stipulation – Don’t cheat a story game and we’re ‘ok’.

 

$15 million in 1991 wow that's $28,719,111 in 2017 jeez that must have stung.

One of the games that came out using that Pass-Through technology was Micro-Machines, a veritable tabletop adventure that slung itself into chicken coops, workshops, building sites and just about anywhere else you can imagine. In Micro-Machines v4 when Codemasters essentially took the game back to it’s roots there were over 700 cars to choose from, which shows how above and beyond Codemasters really did go to excel at games (as well as making up mock reviews for themselves). The strategy worked though and as the money came in, Codemasters dropped the lower budget titles in favour of AA and AAA games, most notably the F1 driver series but hell it’s nice to see them go back to their roots by releasing a new Micro-Machines on all major platforms in April 2017, so look out for that one.

The brothers set up Galactic Software in 1982 and honed their skills at Mastertronic, a publisher of low-cost games titles, until they set up Codemasters. Whilst at Mastertronic they wrote games including Dark Star and Chiller – Picture via BBC Media

It all makes you wonder with a resurgence of 8/16/32 bit games whether Codemasters will consider going back over more old ground. If you look at a list of their previous games for example, they had some fantastic games that could be re-developed for the VR world or newer generation consoles with Dizzy, Ghost Hunters and 3D Starfighter or how about Firehawk?

Right now though guys and gal’s it’s exciting enough to see the Micro’s coming back on the scene so if you haven’t checked out the video, you can see it below. Short and sweet yes but looks a lot of fun.

Do you have any fond memories about Codemaster products or games? If so, drop us a comment and hey if you speaka da eenglish maybe you can do us a post so don’t be shy (we can edit it) – if you don’t at least talk the talk then you’re talent may be wasted.

Also don’t forget to grab yourself a Sinclair Vega+ if nostalgia takes a grip and you want to head back to Dizzying heights with the old classic Spectrum games.

Adios.

Fun Facts

Codemasters have been part owned by Reliance Entertainment who are massive in Hollywood, funding various films and are closely linked with Steven Spielberg and Amblin Entertainment.

The Game Genie was originally labelled as the Power Pak.

In 2008 Codemasters founders ‘the Darling Brothers’ were named in the Queen’s list of CBE’s (Commanders of the Order of the British Empire) for their contribution to the gaming industry.

Codemasters is amongst the oldest UK gaming studio’s still in existence and are an indie studio.

Now check out the new Micro Machines labelled up for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows

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Owner of GaminGuys.com I collect retro games, consoles and accessories and play all era's of games from old to latest. Found on eBaY as 'MCRTrading'

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