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A bit of gaming history: EA reverse engineered its own Genesis devkit

12:45 PM on 08.12.2008

Joseph Leray

Former Features Contributor

As a kid, blast processing my way to greatness with my Sega Genesis, I was always puzzled why some games (particularly those published by Electronic Arts) were slightly larger than the standard cartridge and had the little yellow tab in the top left corner. I never lost any sleep over it, but it was a passing rumination.

The only conclusion I ever came to was that EA needed the extra room in the cartridge to stuff in extra magic fairies, or joojoo beans, or whatever the hell makes videogames work. It also provided a convenient explanation for why NHL '95 is still one of my favorite sports games of all time -- it must have been the extra fairies. Hence the funky cartridge. 

Opposable Thumbs' Ben Kuchera has a different explanation: EA reverse engineered  their very own Genesis dev kit, since Sega never bothered to give them one. Sega couldn't meet the demand, and, lacking the veritable mountain of money they have now, EA "acquired" someone else's dev kit. More than likely, they used their magic videogame fairies to steal one, but I digress.

Then, with the help of arcane tomes and forbidden craftworks and more fairies, they tore the dev kit apart, built their own version, and put it back together again. While I'm not sure just how legal playing fast and loose with someone else's intellectual property is, building your own dev kit is as impressive as it is scrappy and resourceful. Luckily for games historians, EA still has the Frankenkit on display, living testament to a piece of gaming esoterica.

So, the next time you pirate an EA game, just tell the cops you're reverse engineering it. John Riccitello will understand. 

[Via Opposable Thumbs

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Joseph Leray

Former Features Contributor
 
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