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GameShark and Pro Action Replay
The GameShark and Pro Action Replay are devices that allow custom cheat codes to be enabled in various console games. Originally developed by Datel Design and Development, Ltd. in the U.K., this technology is known as the Pro Action Replay in Europe, while it was originally distributed by InterAct Accessories as the GameShark in North America. The GameShark brand was subsequently sold to MadCatz, Inc. in January of 2003. The enhanced version of the European Nintendo 64 Pro Action Replay is sold as the Equalizer by Datel. You can also find more information on our GameShark message board.
System availability
GS/PAR cartridges are available for the Sony PlayStation and PlayStation2, Nintendo 64, Sega Saturn and Nintendo Game Boy video game systems. Each system requires their own version of the device. The Nintendo 64 and Sega Saturn versions plug into the cartridge port on the top of the console. The Sony PlayStation version plugs into the high-speed parallel port on the back of the console. The GameShark may be used with a Game Boy Color, if its software version is 2.1 or higher.

The Sega Dreamcast and newer PlayStation models require a GameShark CDX, which is a hardware/software combination, with a special memory card and a disc that contains the program and codes.


Compatibility
For the most part, GameShark codes can be used in a Pro Action Replay and vice versa. However, this assumes that the same regional version of the game is being used on both systems. Since games are often modified when released in various world markets, most Pro Action Replay codes correspond to European releases, while GameShark codes correspond to North American or Japanese releases. Thus, Pro Action Replay codes for European version of Manx TT on the Sega Saturn can be used in any GameShark or Pro Action Replay cartridge if that version of the game is being played in that machine. However, those same codes in that same machine will not work if the U.S. version of Manx TT is in the console.

Note: The PlayStation version of the GS/PAR cannot boot foreign games. A "mod" chip must be installed to accomplish this before playing such titles. The Sega Saturn version of the GS/PAR will load foreign titles if X + Y + Z is pressed when selecting the "Start Game Without Enhancements" option. The Nintendo 64 version of the GameShark automatically functions as a pass-through and negates the physical differences in foreign cartridges.

The Sega Dreamcast GameShark CDX can be used to play import games in U.S. systems. Full information can be found at here, at Joe Endy's web site.


Function
If you're familiar with the Game Genie or Action Replay cartridges used in the 8-bit or 16-bit video game systems, then you already understand the concept of the GameShark and Pro Action Replay. As a game runs on a video game system, specific locations in the consoles RAM memory are used to hold important information, such as the number of lives remaining, shields, ammunition, current game level, etc. The GS/PAR device is able to override the values in those memory locations, allowing the game to be played with unlimited lives, always full shields, unlimited ammunition, etc.

This capability is a distinct advantage, especially in games that don't have built-in cheat codes. A large number of games can now be mastered by using internal codes from the cartridge, or by entering custom codes found in magazines, 1-900 tip lines, or web sites such as this.


Keycodes
Recent Nintendo 64 games, starting with Diddy Kong Racing, 1080° Snowboarding, and Yoshi's Story, are capable of blocking standard GameShark codes. A blank screen will appear if these titles are used with an older GameShark. A special "Keycode" feature has been added to Nintendo 64 GameSharks that are at least version 1.08.

The Keycode menu can be accessed on such cartridges by pressing L + R at the main GameShark menu. The menu allows preset codes or newly defined codes to be selected. Once the appropriate codes have been selected, the Nintendo 64 console must be powered off to allow the GameShark to switch to the Keycode mode. When the system is turned back on, the game will start with the cheat features enabled. When the Nintendo 64 is powered off after game play, the GameShark will revert to standard mode. Complete details for this procedure are outlined in the GameShark instruction manual.

Note: Different versions of the GameShark higher than version 1.8 exist. Each requires different Keycodes for each set of games.

InterAct Accessories will upgrade your older GameShark to be Keycode compatible free of charge.


Joker Commands
Joker Commands are special GameShark/Pro Action Replay codes originally discovered by The Joker Game Homepage. Simply stated, a Joker Command allows a GameShark code to be momentarily activated when a button or combination of buttons is pressed on the controller. Click here for more details.
GS button
The Nintendo 64 version of the GameShark/Pro Action Replay has a small button located to the right of the LED display on the front of the cartridge. Termed a "GS button", its function is similar to the "Joker Command" described above. The GS button allows a code to be activated momentarily, bypassing problems if it was always enabled.
Rear port
The PlayStation and Saturn versions of the GameShark/Pro Action Replay have a male connector on the rear of the cartridge. It's used by InterAct or Datel to upgrade, or "flash" the software inside the cartridge. It's also used to connect the cartridge to a PC to allow new codes to be hacked. A Comms Link package is required to provide the PC connection.
Comms Link
This hardware/software bundle allows a GameShark/Pro Action Replay to be connected to a personal computer. The cartridge is interfaced to the PC through a cable and half-size ISA card. Once connected, the computer can be used to hack new codes, upgrade the cartridge's internal software, or dump the contents of a save game cartridge to a disk. The minimum requirements to use the package is an IBM-compatible PC with a 80286 or greater processor with one free ISA slot. The Comms Link package is only available through Datel for European users. A version of the package for North American users is marketed as The Shark Link by Rocket Game Products.
Clones
A German company called Dataflash markets a device called the Gamebuster that allows the PlayStation, Nintendo 64, and Saturn consoles the ability to use GameShark/Pro Action Reply-like codes.

Another device, developed by Future Console Designs, Ltd., is called the Xplorer. According to them, the cartridge is fully backwards compatible with the GameShark and Pro Action Replay. It also has the ability to use its own proprietary codes that allow cheat features not possible with those older systems. Currently available in the U.K. for the PlayStation, its low price and bundled code hacking and transfer software for the PC make it a serious contender.

The North American version of the Xplorer is marketed by X-Gear as the Xploder. A Nintendo 64 version of device is also available in addition to the original PlayStation design.

The Game Wizard is PlayStation accessory made by MicroSmarts Innovative Business Solutions Inc. that offers features similar to the GameShark Pro, such as viewing FMV sequences directly from the disk, enhanced saved game management, and easier connectivity to a PC.


Frequently Asked Questions
Interact and Datel have both compiled FAQs that summarize basic facts and questions about the Game Shark and Pro Action Replay. For additional information, the instruction manuals for the PlayStation, Nintendo 64, and Sega Saturn versions of the product are available on-line.