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CREATION INFORMATION
CREATED XXX.XX.1997
UPDATED AUG.08.2008
CREDITS
TEXT WRITTEN BY
MARTIN NIELSEN
ALADDIN DECK ENHANCER
THE NINTENDO ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM UPGRADE?
Back in November 1992 at the Winter Consumer Electronics Show (CES) the Canadian/American distributor of Codemasters gear - Camerica, presented their upcoming product. The new gadget was called "The Aladdin System" - later renamed to what we know is as... the Aladdin Deck Enhancer.

[ Nintendo Magasinet, Issue #10 1992. ] Camerica, who made the Game Genie, now has a new gadget in the works which will drive the people at Nintendo crazy (as usual). The gadget, which you insert into your NES deck, contains various MMC-chips - meaning that the expensive chips no longer has to be included in every cartridge and because of this new invention, the cart production cost can be reduced quite a bit. What Nintendo's lawyers has to say about this, we don't know. I'm sure we'll soon have more about the Aladdin, as Camerica calls their gadget.


Translated from Danish to English.

The Aladdin Deck Enhancer was well received and production of several thousand units was even carried out and shipped to Canada. The Deck Enhancer was packed with a never before seen Codemasters produced Nintendo game called Dizzy the Adventurer - featuring Codemasters' well known egg-head hero Dizzy. The game was a port of a Dizzy game from 1990, Dizzy - Prince of the Yolkfolk.

When the small snippet from Nintendo Magazinet claims that the Aladdin Deck Enhancer "Master Cart" would contain a lot of MMC and enhancing elements it really couldn't be further from the truth as it is in fact noting more than a regular Camerica/Codemasters cartridge without the ROM chip, which was supplied on Aladdin Compact Cartridges - containing no more than the ROM chip.

[ Kevin Horton ] The difference is the ROMs are on little carts that plug into the "Enhancer". It obviously doesn't enhance anything... just marketing hype.

What it does contain is the 8K of CHR RAM, a lockout defeating curcuit, just like a regular Camerica/Codemasters NES cartridge. The 64K "memory upgrade" written on the box is no where to be found. But fact is that this would reduce the manufacturing cost for Camerica carts a lot, as the "compact carts" would only need the PRG rom, which is one chip in each cartridge, a very cool idea indeed, even though it isn't much more than a bad marketing hype sort of thing.

As mentioned earlier, serveral crates of Aladdin Deck Enhancers were manufactured by Codemasters and shipped to Camerica - ready to ship to retailers along with 6 games already released normal cartridges but now rewamped to work with the Aladdin gadget. However before marketing and sale of the Aladdin Deck Enhancer ever really got off the ground, the Camerica adventure ended as the company went belly up. The fall of Camerica could easily have been the fall of Codemasters also. Bills were rolling in and Codemasters was without a publisher in the US. After an attempt to work as a distributor themselves, Codemasters eventually gave up their unlicensed NES business in the states.

But before they abandoned their American activities they upgraded the Aladdin Deck Enhancer to version 2.2 (Version 2.0) which supposedly didn't well too well either - These V2 Aladdin Deck Enhancers were years later picked up by an ebay seller, not really knowing what it was, a total of 6 pallets of Aladdin Deck Enhancers. This beings me to the question of how many Deck Enhancers that actually exist and how limited the production run actually was?

The initial version of the Deck Enhancer, revision 1.1, features a switch for NES deck compatibility, while revision 2.2 most likely used the same bypass technology as was used in the late european Codemaster releases, known as the "black carts", using a design much like the Aladdin Deck Enhancer.

A limited release of the Deck Enhancer happened in the US, Codemasters decided not to bother releasing it in Europe, eventhough it's compatible with European NES decks. Along with the Deck Enhancer was as mentioned 6 aditional "compact cartridges" produced for the release of the Deck Enhancer. All of these games were already available as normal stand alone cartridges. Another 11 games were announced as "comming soon" on the back of the Deck Enhancer box but none of these games ever saw the light of day as Deck Enhancer carts, 3 of them went totally unreleased. I will get back to the unreleased as well as released games later on.

The Aladdin Deck Enhancer went on sale in February 1993 with a MSRP of $39.99 along with 6 aditional games priced below $20. At Winter CES Camerica announced that 35 Aladdin games were expected to be released during 1993. The Aladdin Deck Enhancer release should supposedly have been backed by a $3 million print and TV advertisement in the first 6 months of its release. That year Camerica also claimed that Genesis and SuperNES versions of the Aladdin Deck Enhancer were being developed and were to be released late 1993.

The Aladdin couldn't have been in stores for a very long time, though it seems like it was produced in large quantities, compared to other unreleased products. The next batch of Aladdin carts was supposed to be released during summer 1993, but Camerica might have folded before that and Codemasters soon gave up after that.

In 1996 a guy by the name of Mike Etler, who runs a store called VideoGameConnections in New Jersey, stumbled upon a small quantity of Aladdin Deck Enhancers and the 6 games available. These were sold in sets of one Deck Enhancer, including Dizzy the Adventurer, and the 6 aditional games for US$80. When Etler's supply ran out, the Aladdin was no where to be found for a few years.

Today the rest of the Aladdin stock seems to have been found and the Aladdin Deck Enhancer has been available on ebay non-stop for the past 2 or 3 years, though version1 seems to be very hard to find these days. Getting a Deck Enhancer today will cost you about US$60 for the Deck Enhancer and about US$10 per game.

If you'd like to know what version of the Deck Enhancer you're buying, a small label can be found underneath the barcode on the box of all version 2 Aladdin Deck Enhancers, as shown below. Also, version 2 doesn't seem to include the manual ( PG.1 - PG.2 ) for the Deck Enhancer, but only a registration card and a manual for Dizzy the Adventurer... go figure.

The Aladdin Deck Enhancer would've been a great asset for NES games as Codemasters would've been able to sell games for roughly US$12, and who wouldn't want games that cheap?. Question would be if they were able to produce games fast enough to build a nice library of Deck Enhancer games, with the same great quality as the previous Codemasters games.

But the NES era was in it's fall and with this in mind and with Camerica out of business, Codemasters moved on to the SNES and Sega Genesis, they even became an official licensee, so there was no use for a Super Aladdin Deck Enhancer and Codemasters became a mainstream publisher during the SNES era - no more crazy inventions sadly.

THE RELEASED ALADDIN DECK ENHANCER GAMES GAMES
A total of 7 Compact Cartridges was released for the Aladdin Deck Enhancer, including the pack-in game, Dizzy the Adventurer. All except Dizzy the Adventurer had been released already, though some of the others had received minor updates.

DIZZY THE ADVENTURER

The pack-in and port of Dizzy Prince of the Yolkfolk. Bright and colorful and to be considered as one of the best NES games ever to be produced even though it is a little short to be honest. The game wasn't a 100% direct port, it's said by Dizzy fans that the NES version features a few more puzzles and other minor changes.

FANTASTIC ADVENTURES OF DIZZY

Not only did Fantastic Adventures of Dizzy receive new artwork from it's previously release by Camerica. The game also got a nice speed update and is often referred to as version 2 of the game. Besides the very much needed speed increase, version 2 also features a lot more starts to collect, 250 while the original only had 100, as well as a slightly changed item system and stage layout - an example is shown below.

All versions of Fantastic Adventures of Dizzy released in Europe are the identical to the Aladdin version, though Europe received yet another update of the game, featuring multiple languages (english, French and German) but it's very hard to come by and is most likely the final version of the game.

MICRO MACHINES

By far the best unlicensed NES game ever to be produced. It has won awards such as "Best Action Video Game of the Year!" (1991) by Videogames and Computer Entertainment Magazine (VG&CE Magazine), and every major UK Nintendo magazine gave it a rating above 90%.

BIGNOSE FREAKS OUT

A cartoon'ish platform game with a caveman riding on a pre-historic skateboard. The game is a sequel to Big Nose the Caveman, which wasn't released for the Aladdin, but only as a regular Camerica NES cartridge.

QUATTRO SPORTS

While Fantastic Adventures of Dizzy got updated, the Aladdin Deck Enhancer version of Quattro Sports features a nice bug in the "Baseball Pros" game, which doesn't exist in the original. No matter what the score is, you will always play 10 innings. The Quattro Sports cart features Soccer Simulator, Pro Tennis, BMX Simulator and Baseball Pro's, obviously.

QUATTRO ADVENTURE

Quattro Adventure features Boomerang Kid, Super Robin Hood, Treasure Island Dizzy and Linus Spacehead, the prequel to Linus Spacehead's Cosmic Crusade.

LINUS SPACEHEAD'S COSMIC CRUSADE

A great adventure game in the same style as maniac mansion - a point and click adventure sort of thing.

THE UNRELEASED ALADDIN DECK ENHANCER GAMES GAMES
As mentioned, a total of 11 aditional games were announced for the Aladdin Deck Enhancer and shown on the back of the Deck Enhancer box as well. Camerica announced at WCES in 1992 that 30 games were planned, this might've been a publicity stunt, but a few more than the 11 announced on the back of the box are known to have been in development.

Not all 11 games went totally unreleased though, only in the shape of Compact Cartridges. Go! Dizzy Go!, along with CJ's Elephant Antics and F16 Renegade were all included on the Quattro Arcade 4 in 1 cartridge, released as a normal NES cart. Same goes for Bignose the Caveman, Ultimate Stuntman, Mig 29 Soviet Fighter, Bee52 and Stunt Kids, which all were released as normal single game carts.

This brought the total of completely unreleased games down to the following

TEAM SPORTS BASKETBALL

One of the unreleased games was Team Sports Basketball, a great looking basketball game was nearly complete, one of the guys responsible for the game was Peter Williamson.

[ Peter Williamson ] Yes, amongst the other Codemasters NES games I was responsible for (Linus, Mig29, parts of Quattro Sports and Fantastic Adventures of Dizzy etc.) I was in charge of Team Sports Challenge (or Quattro Team Sports) as it was probably going to be known.

Quattro Team Sports would contain the following games: American Football, Baseball, Basketball and Ice Hockey.

METAL MAN

An arcade style game which played much like the game "Thrust". It reached beta and then got scrapped. Metal Man was also planned to be released as a regular unlicensed Camerica NES cartridge in the fall of 1993.

DREAMWORLD POGIE

The third of the anounced, but unreleased games, was Dreamworld Pogie, starring the Pogie the Fluffle, known from the Dizzy series. The game was supposed to become a cute platformer. Development never really got anywhere and it only reached alpha stage before being scrapped.

Camerica had announced the release date for Dreamworld Pogie as fall 1993.

WONDERLAND DIZZY

Yet another game was planned for the Aladdin Deck Enhancer, though not announced by Camerica, or on the back of the Deck Enhancer box for that matter.

The Oliver Twins, Philip & Andrew, were hard at work at Interactive Studios, their own company, creating yet another Dizzy game for the Deck Enhancer, called Wonderland Dizzy. This game would be a completely new Dizzy game, but even though the development process was nearly over, the game never saw the light of day, neither as a regular cartridge or Aladdin Compart Cartridge. A dev cart is claimed to exist, but when I spoke with Philip Oliver a few years ago, the game was no where to be found. A true treasure for Dizzy fans like me could very well have become lost forever, what a shame.

[ Philip Oliver ] It was a new adventure but "was inspired by" ideas we'd done on the Atari ST/Amiga. The big thing about it was that a Cheshire Cat kept appearing and disappearing - and gave you clues. etc. Obviously there were lots of other "Alice in Wonderland and Alice through the looking glass" references.

The Oliver Twins were bearing the cost of producing the games, so when a game went unreleased they of course had no income. In Europe the Sega Master System and GameGear, pretty much a handheld Master System, were still popular. So in a try to win some of the lost money back, the Olivers decided to port some of their NES games to the Master System, and GameGear. These two systems were chosen because of their similarity to the Nintendo Entertainment System.

Dizzy the Adventurer, Dreamworld Pogie, Go! Dizzy Go! and Wonderland Dizzy were picked to be ported or rewritten for the Master System but unfortunately the Oliver Twins relationship with Codemasters started to creak, and as some of their staff left, Dreamworld Pogie for the Master System was canceled aswell.

Codemasters decided they weren't prepared to ship the SMS games as single game carts, and the Master System "The Excellent Dizzy Colllection" was born. The collection should have contained Dizzy the Adventurer, Go! Dizzy Go! and Wonderland Dizzy, but almost a month into development, Codemasters decided that the collection shouldn't contain 2 adventure games. Wonderland Dizzy for the Master System was then scrapped aswell and a fast and easy conversion, Panic Dizzy, was picked instead.

So even though both Dreamworld Pogie and Wonderland Dizzy were given a second chance, none of them made it all the way to the production plant.