There aren’t enough cheat codes in video games today. There was a time when cheat codes were one of the ultimate prizes in gaming. One of your friends would learn about one and share it amongst your friends. You would go home and try it out because you just had to know what it felt like to play god in the world of video games, or when you beat a game and it unlocked them. This way you could replay the game with these cheats and get new experiences out of them.
Unfortunately, as gaming has become more advanced we’ve had an unfortunate casualty amongst them. Cheat codes feel basically non-existent now. Sure, we have mods that act as something like user-made cheat codes, but the idea of a video game just having a code you could put in at the menu that gives you a special reward? Those are almost non-existent and it’s something lost in this generation of gaming.
Let’s go back and remember the era of cheat codes. Maybe, as more people become nostalgic for them, we’ll see a return to cheat codes someday. One can only hope.
The Konami Code
The most famous cheat code ever. The Konami Code is the code that broke through pop culture. Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A start. Unless it’s two-player mode then it’s select start. What was originally a code meant to give the player 30 lives in Contra soon started to make appearances in every game Konami made. Thus it was dubbed the “Konami code.”
What’s interesting about this code is that it became more famous for everything that happened to it afterward rather than for the original game itself. Contra was plenty hard, and some people have never beaten it without the code’s assistance, but very few call it the “Contra code” because Konami put it in so many future games. That’s how you turn a cheat code into pop culture.
Spider-Man in Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2
The first time someone saw Spider-Man skating around in Tony Hawk Pro Skater it was unbelievable. Here’s a super hero from comics just skating around doing kick flips and he even has his own tricks. How can a different licensed property be in this game?
Spider-Man being in Tony Hawk ruled because it helped pave the way for allowing games to do weird crossovers. For Tony Hawk in particular it became a tradition to put super heroes like Wolverine and Iron Man in their games from this point forward.
“God Mode” in Doom
“God Mode” was the name for the invincibility mode in Doom. This is one of those cheats that is more fun to use after the game has been beaten thousands of times over. The cheat is in reality just an invincibility mode, but players dubbed it “God Mode” because of how they felt like a god slaying the demons of hell. Doom is an at times incredibly hard game and this cheat allowed players a chance to take their revenge on the demons without fear of recourse.
The reason this cheat is important is that it inspired many other games to include a “god mode” itself. In Quake, developed by many of the same people who made Doom, they included a similar cheat where to unlock it all you to do was type in “god.” From then on invincibility and god-like power cheats became a mainstay in video games that allowed cheat codes.
Big Head Mode
NBA Jam had A LOT of cheat codes. You could play as Bill Clinton and Will Smith for example. Only one of them inspired every other game to copy it and create a cheat of their own however and that was Big Head mode.
Big Head Mode is just like the name sounds. You input the code and now everybody has a big ole head to run around with. It doesn’t actually do anything besides give everyone big heads but it’s incredibly funny to look at. Games from this point on would include their own big head modes to similar comedic effect.
Blood Code: Mortal Kombat
Mortal Kombat is infamous not just because of the gruesome fatalities and blood, but because of what happened from that. Mortal Kombat, along with an awful Sega CD game called Night Trap are the reason video games have ratings. Even before that, however, Mortal Kombat was at odds with Nintendo over the blood in their game. Nintendo was known for being the more family-friendly video game developer and they weren’t happy about a bloody game like Mortal Kombat on their system. So the developers turned the blood off.
Sort of. They sort of turned the blood off. What the developers actually did was hide the blood behind a cheat code. Input the code and the blood is back. That blood would eventually lead to the ESRB being created. Oops?
The End: Metal Gear Solid 3
This is sort of a cheat and sort of not one. The way you access this cheat isn’t by putting in a code, but rather by messing with the system clock of the very console itself.
When you reach the boss fight with “The End” you’re supposed to fight him by dodging his sniper fire, sneaking up on him, and shooting back. Unless you decide to go into the system settings, move the internal clock of your PlayStation about two weeks or so, and then start the game back up. Go find his body and you will discover The End has died of old age. Guess he didn’t have much time left on this earth anyway.
This is an incredibly silly boss fight and one of the first instances of a game breaking the norms and doing something unique. It’s not really a cheat “code” but it should definitely be considered a cheat.