Video games are brilliant – of course they are – but as technology has been pushed forward and player experiences have expanded far beyond simple gameplay, there’s always been echoes of the same, tired argument: Video games were much better back in the day! Though this article isn’t here to debate such a heated topic, there is something to be said for specific qualities of video games of old that simply haven’t made the move to the modern generation and are sorely missed. “What is the topic of today?” I hear you ask. Well, it’s a celebration of the long-lost art of a good cheat code.
Cheat codes barely even have a presence in today’s video game offerings, and typically gamers themselves will take it upon themselves to implement additional ‘cheat code’ features either by modding or hacking the games and offering them online through websites such as ModDB and I Want Cheats. Take a look back at older console generations and PC games of the 90’s and early 00’s however, and it was very rare to find a single game that didn’t have some hidden features tucked away in the games code. Ranging from your standard abilities of invincibility/unlimited ammo to the downright bizarre, cheat codes were often a great way to spice things up and squeeze extra juice out of your game collection. They were fun, wacky, and utterly memorable in some cases, so here’s a selection of classic cheat codes that made their games even better!
Metroid – ‘JUSTIN BAILEY’ Code
Somewhat of a strange one for the original Metroid on the NES, players are able to activate a cheat code that swaps out Samus’ iconic suit for a leotard and brightly-coloured hair. Not only a snazzy outfit for one of the most famous female protagonists of all time, but it also comes with some serious firepower. Beginning the game with 255 rockets, 6 energy tanks, and a series of special abilities already unlocked, Samus becomes an unstoppable force. Heading into the password screen and typing “JUSTIN BAILEY —— ——“ will enable this cheat and throw the player straight into the game with a considerable head start.
Mortal Kombat – Blood Code
Being a video game series that is synonymous with excessive gore, it’s hard to imagine a Mortal Kombat game without any blood at all. Unlike the arcade machines that came before, the home-console version of the original title contained not even a trace of blood thanks to an act of censorship (BOOOOO!). Thankfully, the developers were sneaky enough to include a ‘blood code’ within the SEGA Genesis release that re-enabled the lovely brutality for everyone to enjoy, and was a big ‘F YOU’ to the censorship corporation! Huzzah!
In order to enable this feature, all players had to do was press the following buttons on the ‘Code Of Honor’ screen: A, B, A, C, A, B, B.
Doom – ‘God’ Mode
While invincibility cheats aren’t anything new by any stretch, back in 1994 when ID released DOOM the so-called ‘God’ mode cheat was something of a wonder. Making players feel like an unstoppable killing machine, this cheat allowed any gamer to play Doom with ease and eliminating the challenge of this notoriously difficult game. Suddenly this cheat code made shooting hell demons into tiny red chunks even more fun, and so the ‘god’ mode legacy began!
To activate this cheat, players only needed to do was type “iddqd” during gameplay.
Age Of Empires – BIGDADDY
A classic Real-Time Strategy game that spawned a beloved franchise, the original Age Of Empires contained a cheat code that could easily turn the tide of war into the players favour. Though sports cars didn’t exist during the Stone, Tool, Bronze, and Iron Ages, this did not stop the developer including them anyway. By pressing the ‘enter’ key during gameplay and typing BIGDADDY, the player can spawn the Winsett’s Z unit, a high-speed sports vehicle equipped with a mighty rocket launcher.
Always wanted to blow horses, soldiers, catapults and houses to smithereens in no time at all? This cheat has you covered, and it’s certainly deserving of its codename.
The ‘Konami Code’
The most famous cheat code of all time and a huge part of gaming history, the ‘Konami Code’ was a universal cheat code that, as the name suggests, recurred throughout Konami’s game library and always benefitted the player greatly. Becoming popular from 1987’s Contra, the cheat in that particular instance granted players with 30 lives and made the game far more accessible to non-skilled players. Because of its popularity amongst gamers of old, the code has also been incorporated into many non-Konami titles as a fun easter egg.
The Konami Code button combination is as follows:
Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City – All Weapons And The Tank
The Grand Theft Auto series has always had a taste for the absurd and taking action and violence to the next level. As great as this series has been for delivering on gritty, character-driven narratives, these games will always be remembered for the crazy antics that you could take part in outside of the story missions. Placed in large open-worlds with many abilities and weapons at your disposal, it was always fun to break away from the core experience and wreak havoc in the streets of America. The joy of blowing stuff up, crashing cars, and going on an all-out attack on law enforcement only got more fun with the inclusion of cheats, and especially with one code in particular.
Used so often by myself that the button combination still lives on in my mind, players only needed to enter the following button sequence in-game in order to receive every single weapon: R2, R2, R1, R2, L1, R2, Left, Down, Right, Up, Left, Down, Right, Up.
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater – Cheating ‘The Boss’
Snake Eater is arguably the finest entry in the Metal Gear Solid series, but not only this, it’s also home to one of the best boss battles in gaming history. Fighting back against ‘The End’ is a torturous encounter, and one that requires a lot of patience and a heavy use of stealth tactics. It’s for those reasons why this battle is both incredibly enjoyable, but also incredibly tedious. Thankfully, there is an extremely easy way to cheat yourself out of this boss battle in no time at all.
If the player saves their progress once beginning the boss encounter, then quits the game, and then changes the date and time information of the PS2 console forwards by a few years, when they re-load the saved data The End will have died of old age, and the boss encounter will be over as quickly as it started.
Tomb Raider 2 – Lara Croft Explosion
I’ve got a confession to make: I was dreadful at Tomb Raider. In fact, I was so atrocious at the game that I actually gave up trying to make any sort of progress, and instead committed my time to killing Lara Croft in a variety of brutal ways. (Yes – it’s rather macabre, but it was utterly amusing as a child.) Because of this, imagine my joy when I discovered a cheat that would literally explode Lara Croft into pieces. It’s ridiculous, it doesn’t make any sense, and it’s kind of funny.
In order to activate this cheat, input the following actions while in-game:
Move one step forward, one step back, rotate in three clockwise full circles, and then jump forwards.
The Sims – Rosebud
One of the defining video games of the early 2000’s, The Sims is a life-sim, and just like life itself it can become difficult at times. While part of the fun was found in developing the life journey of your many Sims: starting off poor, single, and with a low-wage job, and then working towards achieving a high-end career, the creation of a family, and perhaps becoming rich – sometimes you wanted to skip to the end and simply enjoy living the high life. For players such as myself, being able to easily turn your Sims into millionaires led to a great deal of fun, the building of several dream homes, and a tonne of happy families. Thankfully, with only a few button presses, the player can easily build up a healthy sum of money to live your dream.
Open the ‘cheat box’ using CTRL + Shift + C, and then type the word ‘rosebud’. Entering this code will grant the player with 1000 Simoleans, but to multiply the amount of cash earned, follow this code with several repeats of ‘:!’ which will add an additional 1000 Simoleans per input.
Big Head Mode – EVERY GAME EVER
The title pretty much says it all, really. A popular cheat code that has made its way into many video games over the decades, gamers seemingly cannot resist a big, virtual head. Whether it’s an FPS, a sports game, or any genre in between, there’s not a single game that can’t be improved by a hilariously large head. Goldeneye was a particular favourite of mine as a kid…