Micro Genius: A Look Back at 11 Games That Defined Our Childhood

It was the console that launched a million pirates unto the scene and may have set the tone for piracy in Asia for the past two decades.

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Micro Genius: A Look Back at 11 Games That Defined Our Childhood
Image: Kelly Ho @ Rojak Daily
Here are a list of things to miss about the 90s: recording your favourite TV show, pausing whenever the commercials come on, and resuming; waiting for the radio to play your favourite song and hitting record on your radio (hey, remember radios?); and playing outside – we still do this last one but a lot less. You know what else we miss? Rampant, unmitigated piracy.

Nice and safe in the box. And into the box it will go once it's your bed time.
We're not endorsing it, but when your home country is not globalised enough and all the good stuff keeps getting diverted to Singapore, it can get a little frustrating. That's where piracy comes in and that's what the Micro Genius is: an unabashedly unauthorised copy of the Famicom that never made it to Malaysia. It was one of the first most successful consoles in Malaysia and it only happened because Nintendo did not have a presence here and they didn't give us the time of day. Because of this oversight, Micro Genius saw a gaming boom in Malaysia that the original NES did in Japan and America. 

Don't kick the console or hit the cartridge in any way...
Because all the games were bootleg, they usually came in bundles. Something like 999-in-1 cartridges that in reality only had five of the same games with different modes applied to them. These games would invariably have at least Super Mario Bros. and Contra. If you want to feel even older, look at Exhibit A: 

Blow me. Image:
Yeah, remember these cartridges? So if you've played the Micro Genius, this list is for you. If you were lucky and someohow got the NES, this list is also for you. But you have to pay extra, head to Rojak Daily+ for that. It's the same website, you just have to pay to read the same article (if only it were true, it would save the publishing industry overnight). Lamentations on the online publishing industry aside, let's get those nostalgia juices flowing with a look at the games we all played as kids in Malaysia in the 90s: 

1. Contra

This less than subtle homage to Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator was the ultimate two-player game of its generation. Nobody knew it was made by Konami but every kid knew the cheat code "Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start." Applied at the Title Screen. Just think about how word of mouth spread for this cheat code in a time before the Internet. 

He's got the wide-spread tomato upgrade for his gun.

2. Duck Hunt

If this damn dog was supposed to be our hunting buddy, why is it always laughing at us?! Shouldn't it be encouraging us with a friendly bark or offer an empathic expression while tilting its head? Instead, it keeps laughing at us from the bushes whenever we missed the duck. Also, what in the world happened to Light-Gun games? Only the coolest kids in school had Light-Guns of their own and even VR can't match the excitement of holding a real-looking gun and shooting at a TV screen. 

This was when everyone shot at the screen hoping to hit the dog.

3. Super Mario Bros

The grand-daddy of them all. Mario and sad green-Mario (or as younger siblings know him, player 2) launched the NES into mainstream success in Japan and arguably did the same here through the Micro Genius. This level is arguably the most recognisable of any game on the planet and you can test it out on a friend or colleague near you. Go ahead, ask them where this gif is from. 

You could say the mushroom provided much-room for growth.

4. Ice Climber

This game was all about clubbing baby seals, eating your bonus veggies and climbing your way to the top. It's an allegory for life – beat your obstacles, climb higher in life, and eat your vegetables. The game ends after you climb 32 mountains. There is no ending animation and no congratulations. The game just ends and you're back at square one. Just like life. It's not your destination, but the climb that matters. Who knew games had so many levels? 

Baby seal violence in 3, 2, 1...

5. Yie Ar Kung-Fu

True story – this writer didn't even know the name of this game until this week. It was just one of those impossibly difficult games that exploited racial stereotypes and couldn't be completed. That fat flying guy moved so fast. We just checked out the ending online. Lee jumps and kicks the gong and gives a smiley face to the player. We would include Karateka in this list, but that was another impossibly difficult game that doesn't deserve to be resurrected in this story. 

Yep, this screen. All day, every day.

6. ExciteBike

This might have been the first game to allow you to design your own levels. There was also an amazing trolling technique that most older siblings knew all too well. Watch the gif below to find out how this was done. Besides that, this racer was the closest thing to an X-games title at the time. Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 wouldn't be out until the year 2000, 15 years later. 

And if its two players and you stop your bike in front of the other player, you can continually make that player fall over and over and over.

7. Double Dragon II: The Revenge

The beat 'em up genre was a major hit in arcades and in homes at the time and Double Dragon was one of the few that stood out amongst the rest. The main characters were twin brothers Jimmy Lee and Billy Lee because Bruce Lee was a big thing at the time and because, well, only Chinese people knew karate, apparently. There are many ways to win this game including hacks and glitches but the one everyone eventually ends up doing is spamming A+B to do the flying knee kick. And because you can hit each other, you'll be fighting to hit each other off of roofs. 

Just repeat this move all the way to the end.

8. Wild Gunman 

FIRE!! The Light Gun games continue with this western-inspired shooter. You're possibly a bounty hunter in the Wild West and you're tasked with various quick draws with criminals in the dessert. There's also a mode where you shoot at a saloon which is more thrilling than this. It was the Virtual Cop of its age. So is the next game on the list.

They should have said "DRAW!" But maybe that was confusing to some audiences.

9. Hogan's Alley

Hogan's Alley was actually a shooting range on the grounds of the Special Police School at Camp Perry, a training facility for the National Guard of the United States. No wonder you had to shoot at cardboard cutouts and everything looked like it was a training ground. It makes so much sense now. Hey, remember Virtua Cop, Time Crisis, and House of the Dead? Maybe that should be our next list. 

There was also a mode where you performed trick shots with cans.

10. Mario Bros 

This is actually Mario's second iteration. The first time he appears in a game was in Donkey Kong. Amazingly, a lot of the elements of what made a Super Mario game was retained. The pipes, the turtle enemies, the jumping and even his green twin, Luigi. Officially, this is the first game in the Mario series and it would be followed by Super Mario and the many iterations of the pudgy plumber in the future.

POW! All your troubles are upside down.

11. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game

When a game starts with you jumping into a burning building to save the day, you know you've got a winner. Although there are three games in the series that was released on the NES, this one stands out in this writer's memory most vividly. It helped that TMNT was lit back then. An expression that would probably be lost on many at the time. Though everyone wanted to be Leonardo, we know that in the end you're going to choose Donatello because he's got the stick and the most range. 

Look, turtle skeletons are the same as ours!

We're sure we've missed probably half of your favourite Micro Genius games. Why not tell us in the comments? Here and on Facebook where you probably found the link to this article.

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