Camerica's Aladdin Deck Enhancer

Check out some scans of the Aladdin carts.

Camerica, the company responsible for the American distribution of Codemasters stuff, had a pretty much typical relationship with Nintendo. In 1988 it released the Freedom Stick, which was basically a cordless clone of the NES Advantage joystick, and promptly got the pants sued off of it by Nintendo for copyright infringement. Two years later it got involved in a legal fight over Nintendo about the Game Genie. Nintendo was able to keep the Genie from being released for nearly a year in the US, but Camerica won its battle against Nintendo in the Canadian courts, and was able to market it in Canada a few months before the US release. Camerica took advantage of the free publicity and ran full-page ads in VG&CE blaring "THANK YOU CANADA" and taking the piss out of Nintendo.

Having beaten the great shiny machine that Nintendo was back then, Camerica decided to really piss it off and announced several neat things in 1991. These announcements included the promise of about 20 unlicensed carts (made by Codemasters), a device that let NES users play Game Boy games on their TVs (wow, a Super Game Boy three years earlier), and a portable NES clone called The Express.

Neither of the last two ever saw the light of day, but the other thing Camerica announced - the Aladdin Deck Enhancer - did (kinda). The Aladdin was announced in mid-1992 and got mega amount of press. Basically, it was a cart-shaped piece of hardware that had a small cart port on the back of it to accept smaller cartridges. It was going to have an extra 64k of memory, a built-in battery to let you save games like you can on the TG16, and some kind of graphics SuperChip like Color Dreams announced earlier. All this was going to sell for $30, with "Compact Cartridges" to go with it to be priced for around $15-20.

The Aladdin was first displayed at the Winter CES in 1992, and once again got mega amount of press and praise. The Aladdin's carts, when plugged into the Aladdin, made the thing the exact same shape as a regular NES cart. Everything looked set for its release... and then Camerica went out of business. Doh! Codemasters announced that it would take over Camerica's business in North America, but it still didn't bother much with releasing the Aladdin, which in its end state did not have any of the SuperChip style features hyped up in the press (it was just the same hardware Camerica used in all its games).

The Aladdin and its games got a very limited release in stores, as well as being hawked on the Home Shopping Network. The six games announced as "Available Now" for the Aladdin were manufactured and sold in very small numbers. The twelve or so announced as "Coming Soon!" never saw the light of day (some interesting screen shots on the back of the Aladdin box though..)

Dizzy the Adventurer

The title screen, featuring K-rad Aladdin Dizzy

This was the pack-in cart for the Aladdin, and was never released in regular cartridge form. It's derived from Dizzy: Prince of the Yolk Folk, a game Codemasters made for the C64, Spectrum, Amiga and so forth, and it's in the same basic vein as Dizzy's other two NES games.

The start of the game

The game basically worked like The Fantastic Adventures of Dizzy did, with a few exceptions. First off, the item system was made a million times better, because you could safely pick up items without the other stuff you were carrying being automatically dropped off, like in the last two games. Also, the game just flicks from screen to screen, and doesn't scroll like Fantastic Adventures does.The other neat improvement is that you can actually have conversations with people.

The plot basically goes like this: While exploring around with his incredibly hot egg girlfriend Daisy, cool egg person Dizzy found the castle of the Evil Wizard Zaks. Zaks puts Daisy under a spell or something, and puts Dizzy in jail, and that's where the game starts. Unfortunately, the game is a million times easier than the last two, and I didn't have much trouble beating it. If you need it, I've written a walkthrough for it. Overall, though, it's a pretty cool game to play, and it's got extremely cool music. I still think Fantastic Adventures is better, but it's still a shame this is difficult to find.

The six games

In addition to Dizzy the Adventurer, six games were also manufactured for the Aladdin: Fantastic Adventures of Dizzy, Micro Machines, Bignose Freaks Out, Quattro Sports, Quattro Adventure, and Linus Spacehead's Cosmic Crusade. These carts were released in the standard Camerica golden cartridges as well, but the Aladdin versions of these games are quite a bit harder to find. The distribution of the Aladdin was spotty at best due to Camerica's financial problems at the time.

Most of the carts were packaged in boxes similar to the regular-cartridge Camerica ones, except that there was a little cardboard thingy on top that had "Aladdin Compact Cartridge" written on it. However, Keita's copy of Micro Machines was packaged in a blister-pack style box; the sort that action figures and Hot Wheel cars are packaged in. This means that you have to basically rip the thing apart to get to the cart (that sucks!). The back of the box has the ad copy being cut off at the end; it looks like this was done in a hurry or something. Also weird about the blister packs is that there is absolutely no manufacturer's name anywhere on the box. I suppose the blister packs were made after Camerica went under and Codemasters tried to put some life into the Aladdin.

All of the six games were the same as their regular-cartridge counterparts, with some weird exceptions.

The Fantastic Adventures of Dizzy almost seems like version 2.0 of the cartridge game. Dizzy walks a lot faster (thank God, I really hated how slow he was in the cart), the item system is made a little better, there are now 250 stars to collect (as opposed to 100 in the original), and some of the layout of the game has been changed, as seen below (this is the section just to the left of Dizzy's house).

Also kind of worth mentioning is that "Baseball Pros" on the Quattro Sports Aladdin cart has a weird bug that makes you play ten innings each game no matter what the score is. Hey, not that it can make the game any worse...

The Non-released games

Here are all the games listed as "Coming Soon" on the back of the Aladdin box, but never released:

Go! Dizzy Go! (seen on Quattro Arcade)
Team Sports Basketball (weird 45-degree overhead perspective basketball game)
Bignose the Caveman
Metal Man (looks like a generic shooter, with you playing a guy with a jetpack)
Stunt Kids
Mig-29 Soviet Fighter
F16 Renegade (another overhead shooter)
CJ's Elephant Antics (seen on Quattro Arcade)
The Ultimate Stuntman
DreamWorld Pogie (wow!!!! this looks totally mega dizzy-clone! :)

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