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
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
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