GameShark vs GameShark Pro For N64: Which Is Better?

In recent articles, we delved into the joys of hacking retro video games with console accessories such as Game Genie and GameShark. Today, we unearth even more amazing secrets buried deep within your favorite N64 games, like the hidden Star Fox Arwing enemy in Ocarina of Time.

But, this time, there’s a catch. There are, like, 19 or more versions of the GameShark for N64 and they are not created equal. Some of them won’t be able to access the awesome hidden content you’re looking for.

Lucky for you, we know exactly which version is best. Spoiler alert: It’s GameShark Pro v3.1 or higher. To find out why, read on.

Why Are There Different Versions of GameShark For N64?

So, why doesn’t the first N64 GameShark work for all the games? Why was there a need for subsequent versions?

Put simply, InterAct had to keep updating their GameShark accessory because Nintendo kept updating their games. Whenever Nintendo updated their games with bug fixes and other revisions, they had to change the game’s code and release it as a completely different ROM.

These updates impacted the GameShark in two ways. One was that the GameShark cheat codes for one version of a game don’t work for the updated/re-released versions of the same game. Each revision is a different ROM that requires different cheat codes.

CIC Security Chips

But the real problem had to do with Nintendo’s anti-piracy measures, specifically, CIC security chips. Official N64 cartridges contain CIC chips as proof that they are licensed copies, not bootlegs.

Without such measures, cartridge games are far too easy to counterfeit. All you’d have to do is copy the game ROM, load it into a cheap, generic cartridge, and sell. The chips also prevent third-party developers from producing a flood of unlicensed garbage games for N64.

Thus, the N64 is designed so that it must recognize each game’s CIC chip or it won’t load the game. Altogether, there are 7 known CIC chips used in N64 games: 6101, 6102, 6103, 6105, 6106, 8303, and 5101.

Unfortunately, this causes problems when trying to boot a Nintendo 64 game through the GameShark accessory. For instance, the earliest versions of GameShark for N64 (v1.07 and lower) will only boot up with certain N64 games (those with the earliest-used CICs, 6101 and 6102).

To address this issue, later versions of the GameShark support the use of key codes. Basically, these are forged CIC codes that “unlock” CIC-protected games. To gain access to a game and input cheat codes, simply use the key code that matches the cartridge’s CIC.

Using Key Codes

Game Shark Pro Key Codes - N64Okay, so it’s not quite that simple to input your game’s GameShark key code. Actually, it’s kinda complicated.

But fear not. We’ve laid out all the steps you need to follow right here.

Step 1: Find the Right Key Code

This is the most difficult step because choosing the “correct” key code depends on both the game and the version of GameShark you’re trying to use. To clarify, your GameShark uses one key code for Diddy Kong Racing and a different key code for F-Zero X.

Additionally, later versions of GameShark can access certain games that older versions can never access no matter what key code you use. (We’ll explain the different GameShark versions in detail after this section.)

The good news is, there are plentiful resources all over the internet that can tell you which key codes to use (which is why we won’t bother listing them here). For starters, you’ll find two great key code listings here and here.

Step 2: Boot Up GameShark With an “Unprotected” Game

Super Mario 64, Star Fox 64, and most other N64 games use the 6101 and 6102 CIC chips. For each version of the N64 GameShark, there is one key code for all such games.

This is also the GameShark’s default key code setting. As such, under this default setting, the GameShark will only boot up if one of these “unprotected” games is inserted. So, once you find the key code you need, Step 2 is to boot up the N64 system with the GameShark and an unprotected game in the cartridge slot.

Step 3: Select Your Key Code

Now, locate the GameShark’s key code menu. All versions of GameShark Pro will already have this menu option displayed upon bootup. With older versions of GameShark, you need to hold the L and R buttons on the menu screen to access the key code listing.

Next, select the desired key code from the list and then read the following warning carefully. Warning: Do not proceed to the next step unless you are certain that the key code you’ve chosen matches the game you plan to use. If it does not, your GameShark will appear to be “bricked” and will not boot up.

We’ll explain why this happens in the next two steps. For now, check the resources we provided to make sure the game you plan to use matches the chosen key code.

Step 4: Turn Off Your N64

Here’s what’s really happening at this point. By selecting a key code, you’re changing the default key code setting of your GameShark device. So, the next time you boot up the GameShark, it will use the key code you selected instead of the original default key code.

That’s why, in order for this change to take effect, you need to turn off your N64. Note: Hitting the reset button will simply cancel your selection and reset the GameShark back to its original default key code setting. So, you must completely turn off the system to change the key code setting.

Step 5: Boot Up GameShark With Desired Game

Lastly, while the system is off, remove the “unprotected” game from the GameShark and insert a game that matches the key code you selected. Then, input any cheat codes you want and have fun!

However, if the key code you selected doesn’t match the CIC chip of the inserted game, the GameShark will not boot up. Remember: you have reset the code that tells the N64 which CIC chip to look for. If it doesn’t find the chip you specified, it assumes the cartridge is pirated and it won’t let the GameShark load.

Even worse, this change is permanent until you boot up the GameShark with a game that actually does match the selected key code. And if you don’t have any games that match the key code and/or can’t remember which key code was selected, this is a difficult problem to fix.

Major Version Differences

Now that you know the reason behind the different versions of GameShark for Nintendo 64, let’sGame Shark Pro N64  dig a little deeper. Here, we go into more detail about the major N64 GameShark revisions and why it matters which version you choose.

GameShark v1.07 and Earlier

As we mentioned before, all GameShark versions prior to v1.08 do not support key codes. That means they are only compatible with games that use the 6101 and 6102 CIC chips. Bottom line: These GameSharks are very limited and, therefore, not a good choice.

GameShark v1.08 and Later

Starting with v1.08, the GameShark began supporting key codes, allowing users to hack a larger variety of games. Still, even with key code support, these early GameShark versions are more limited in their compatibility than GameShark Pro v3.0.

Put simply, each version of the GameShark is compatible with more games than its predecessors. And, each version has more preloaded codes in its built-in code list than previous versions.

GameShark Pro v3.0

GameShark was rebranded as “GameShark Pro” for v3.0, and not just for the sake of marketing hype. It really is drastically more convenient for hacking N64 games than all previous versions, thanks mostly to two added features.

First, key codes are easier to access from the menu, as mentioned in the key code instructions above. Best of all, though, v3.0 adds a code generator.

The code generator program allows you to discover your own codes by searching for/altering codes that are present during gameplay. For example, you can activate the code search feature and then press the jump button to make your character jump.

In the search results, you’ll see a bunch of codes that were active while your character was jumping. If you mess with these codes one at a time, you may find one that affects jump height, character jumping animation, etc.

GameShark Pro v3.1-3.3

GameShark Pro Port Nintendo 64Lastly, GameShark Pro v3.1 added a parallel port to the back of the GameShark cartridge that connects the cartridge to your PC. This can be used to download new codes, update firmware, and more.

Furthermore, it vastly expands your hacking options. For instance, you can upload game ROM data onto your PC and then hack the data with third-party programs to discover new GameShark codes more easily.

The final version of the N64 GameShark is GameShark Pro v3.3. As mentioned, this version is compatible with more games than all other versions.

However, the final production run of the GameShark Pro v3.3 did not include the parallel port. So, when buying v3.3, be aware that it may or may not include this feature.

Awesome Codes to Try With Your GameShark Pro

Before you start hacking away with the awesome codes below, take heed. There’s a chance that GameShark hacking will semi-permanently glitch your game and/or corrupt/delete your save data.

This is most likely to happen if you:

  • hack carelessly,
  • attempt hacking with no idea what you’re doing, or
  • use GameShark codes from the wrong version of a game.

Sometimes, though, it happens no matter how careful you are. So, if you value the save data on a particular cartridge, get an additional cartridge to use for hacking. If you do glitch your game, you should be able to restore it by wiping all save files and other saved data from the cartridge.

To tell which game version you have, you can look at the back of the cartridge. On the right side of the back sticker label, you’ll see an imprint of a two-digit number, possibly followed by a letter.

If there is no letter, the cartridge contains the first version of the game (v1.0). An imprint ending with the letter “A” signifies the second version of the game (v1.1). A few games even had a third version with an imprint ending with “B” (v1.2).

However, if you bought the game used, the imprint might be inaccurate. Sellers often refurbish tarnished cartridges by removing the circuit boards and inserting them into new or nicer-looking shells. When this happens, the game version contained in the circuit board might not match the imprint on the shell.

A more accurate way to identify game versions is to dump (back up) the game’s ROM file on your PC using a GameShark Pro. Then, examine the ROM data with a hex editor. You’ll see the version number (0, 1, or 2) at offset 0x3F.

We reiterate, though, it’s best to experiment with a secondary cartridge so you don’t lose your save data. Now, let’s get to the good stuff: mind-blowing codes that unlock hidden content in your favorite N64 games. (We have not tested any of these, FYI.)

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

A few years ago, a speedrunner called zfg1 discovered the hidden Arwing enemy in Ocarina ofN64 The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time Time. Apparently, the creators of the game once used it to develop flight patterns for Volvagia, the boss enemy of the Fire Temple. But since they didn’t remove the Arwing from the game’s code, you can still access it with these GameShark codes (from nsidr.com).

For Version 1.0

81244096 0009

81244124 013b

81244132 0000

For Version 1.1

8124c806 0009

8124c894 013b

8124c8a2 0000

For Version 1.2

8124cd06 0009

8124cd94 013b

8124cda2 0000

The Easter Egg Archive lists slightly different codes for versions 1.1 and 1.2.

Version 1.1

81244236 0009

812442c4 013B

812442d2 0000

Version 1.2

81244716 0009

812447a4 013B

812447b2 0000

Inputting these codes should transform the boy lifting a rock in Kokiri Village into an Arwing from Star Fox 64! It shoots at Link with lasers until you defeat it or die trying.

Goldeneye: 007

N64 Goldeneye 007Many annoyed gamers in 1997 spotted an ominous yet unreachable island base in the background of Goldeneye 007’s first level: The Dam. Despite these gamers’ many frustrated attempts, the game simply doesn’t allow players to access that location.

The reason it’s so enticing is that it looks like a location you’re meant to visit, like maybe a super secret bonus level. In reality, it was going to be an extension of the Dam level that Bond reaches by boat. But the boat idea was scrapped so they shoved the tiny island far into the background.

To reach the island, use the “No Clipping” code. (There’s only one US version of Goldeneye 007 so this should work. On the other hand, we got this code from an ancient Lycos Tripod site from the 90’s so, yeah…)

D0064F31 0030

800D33F5 0050

880D33F5 0000

Input the code, go to the end of the dam where you’re supposed to jump off, and locate the far away island with your sniper rifle. Press L+R and you should end up in the ocean. Then, simply walk to the island and pat yourself on the back.

Fair warning: the island is dumb. It has a broken cannon, an abandoned tower, and nothing else. But hey, you still earned that pat on the back and nothing can take that away from you.

Mortal Kombat 4

At the time of its release, Mortal Kombat 4 featured more playable characters, both new andn64 Moral Kombat 4 old than any MK title before. And while many familiar favorites were included in this roster, Kitana (who debuted in Mortal Kombat II) was not among them.

But she came very close. In fact, she was so close to being made an unlockable secret character that her code still exists in the game. This code includes her name, animations, and a full list of moves.

However, there is no way to access Kitana in MK 4 except with the GameShark for N64. To unlock Kitana, enter the code 800FE293 0010.

Mario Kart 64

In Mario Kart 64, the fastest race division is normally 150cc. But if that’s too slow for you, useMario Kart n64 this code with your GameShark to unlock the secret 300cc mode!

810FBD2C 46FF

810F93A4 46FF

810F77F4 46FF

810FCB04 46FF

810F85CC 46FF

810FAF54 46FF

810FA17C 46FF

 

Super Mario 64

Super Mario 64 is a very simple, straightforward game as far as 3D platformers go. That’s what makes it so fun to mess with using a GameShark Pro.

GameHacking.org lists tons of codes to modify the size, shape, color, and other attributes of objects, characters, and basically everything else in Super Mario 64. Alternatively, it’s excellent for practicing your own codefinding/hacking skills.

GameShark vs GameShark Pro: Go Pro

When comparing GameShark vs Gameshark Pro, the choice is obvious. Choose a GameShark Pro v3.1 or higher.

Learn more about GameShark and other accessories in The Top 3 Must-Have Sega Saturn Accessories. Or, go here to learn why there’s an expansion port under your N64.

 

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Wednesday, 22 May 2024