|Aladdin Deck Enhancer|
As if Canadian company Camerica hadn't gotten under the skin of Nintendo already with it's Game Genie, in late 1992 they decided to cut down to cost of NES software by creating a special type of game pak. Camerica noticed that each NES game pak had the same components: the graphics chip, the memory control chip, the 10NES lock-out chip and the game program itself. That means when you buy NES cartridges, you basically buy the same components over and over. Thus the Aladdin Deck Enhancer was born as a means of providing cheaper-priced carts.
The Aladdin system has two parts, the Deck Enhancer and the Compact Cart. The Deck Enhancer contains the graphics chip, the memory control chip, and a security bypass chip. The game programs themselves were stored on smaller interchangable Compact Carts. You simply connected the compact cart into the Aladdin, and it basically became just like a standard cartridge you just pop into your NES system and power up. The Aladdin also had 64K of memory for better graphics, and an internal battery to save games. Some models had a switch that was just like the gold Camerica cartridges.
The Aladdin did provide some benefits to the NES scene. The Compact Carts were about half the size of NES carts so less material was needed to manufacture them, plus they only needed to provied the game ROM in each cart. As a result game carts could be provided at just $15 to $20 a pop, much cheaper than the standard $40 price most NES games retailed for at the time.
|A comparison between the Aladdin (with compact cart) and a standard NES cart|
However since this is an unlicensed NES cart, getting the Aladdin to boot up correctly might take some work. About half the time you'll get a blinking screen, but keep trying and it should work eventually. Also several sources say the Aladdin will not work in the new-style NES, but I haven't been able to verify it.
Once the Aladdin was released in early 1993, it was priced at $39.95 and included one compact cart, Dizzy the Adventurer. Camerica wanted to make sure they had a decent selection of software so six more carts followed from Codemasters' library: Fantastic Adventures of Dizzy, Micro Machines, Bignose Freaks Out, Quattro Sports, Quattro Adventure, and Linus Spacehead. These games were previously released in the standard Camerica gold cartridges and for the most part the compact carts were the same as the regular carts, with a few exceptions.
The Aladdin certaily caught the attention of gaming magazines everywhere when it was unveiled. Camerica announced more Compact Carts were "coming soon", plus they wanted to get some of the other third-party comapnies to participate. Unfortunately Camerica's financial problems limited the unit's success. plus the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo were hitting their stride, and very few people were interested in upgrading their NES. It wasn't long before Camerica went out of business and the Aladdin dropped out of sight after very few units were sold. As a result the Aladdin and the six Compact Carts are extremely rare and highly sought after by NES collectors. Finding an Aladdin can be done; just be ready to pay a pretty penny for it.
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