I Am Going To Blog More: Where Did All The Cheats Go?

Note: I wrote this for the cancelled issue 5 of The Luchazine back when that was a thing. It's been sitting in a folder on my computer since then. With Sweep's new blog initiative, this seems like a great time to throw it up. There are a couple of other things I wrote for the Luchazine that never made it into the 'zine that I may throw up at some point, but they're pretty out of date now and largely irrelevant, so I don't know if I should bother. This one is still pretty relevant though. And I am of course going to write some actual new blogs soon, I'm not just going to throw up old shit.

Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start. There once was a time when pressing those buttons would result in a happy surprise in a huge array of games. Dubbed the Konami code, it remains famous today and is an Easter egg on many websites. Try it now on giantbomb.com (replacing Start with Enter) and you will be whisked away to the Contra page. However within games, cheat codes are a rarity today. Even just 10 years ago they were still somewhat prevalent, although not as common as in the days of the SNES and Genesis. But in recent years the inclusion of cheats have taken a steep nosedive to the point where they are virtually non-existent. What happened? Where did they go?

Gaming has evolved quickly over recent years, and many of the changes lead to cheat codes being less needed. Many people say that games have become easier, which may have lead to cheats being less necessary. Kazuhisa Hashimoto famously included the Konami code in Gradius because he felt the game was too hard for the average player. If games are getting easier, then the need for cheats will be diminishing. But the changing difficulty in games is a lengthy discussion itself so let's leave it for another day.

However certain gameplay elements have most definitely been streamlined, removing many of the frustrations of gaming that cheats used to alleviate. For example, lives systems are a rarity today, negating the need for unlimited lives cheats. Regenerating health removes the need for a health cheat. More frequent checkpoints and save locations make level warp cheats unnecessary.

BIG HEAD MODE!!!

Another recent trend is the increase in unlockables being obtained via gameplay. Many extras which may have been gained from cheat codes in the past can now be unlocked by various gameplay methods. For example, Army of Two: The 40th Day has a big head mode in which character's heads are humorously enlarged. Rather than entering a code to obtain this, it is unlocked by completing the campaign, and is then activated from a menu.

Downloadable content and microtransactions are other recent additions that have affected cheats. Many downloads that would have been cheats years ago can now be downloaded for a fee. For example, Skate 3 has a downloadable “Time is Money Pack” which unlocks everything in the game that would ordinarily be earned by playing through the career mode. In the past, this would have most likely been accessible via quickly pressing a few buttons on your controller, but now it is a $7 downloadable add-on.

A further reason for the fall of cheats is a modern addition to games that we all know, love and are hopelessly addicted to – achievements. Achievements have become a major part of gaming today and in order to be a somewhat meaningful system, everyone must have a level playing field. If a player could enter a code that would make obtaining the achievements easier, that is unfair on players who are unaware of the code. And while developers could disable the achievements while a cheat is activated, many simply elect to not include cheat codes at all.

Of course, cheat codes aren't completely dead yet. You can still see them in modern games such as Grand Theft Auto 4, Saints Row 2, Scot Pilgrim Vs. The World, Rock Band 2 and more. Long live the cheat code!!!

28 Comments
29 Comments
Edited by MattyFTM

Note: I wrote this for the cancelled issue 5 of The Luchazine back when that was a thing. It's been sitting in a folder on my computer since then. With Sweep's new blog initiative, this seems like a great time to throw it up. There are a couple of other things I wrote for the Luchazine that never made it into the 'zine that I may throw up at some point, but they're pretty out of date now and largely irrelevant, so I don't know if I should bother. This one is still pretty relevant though. And I am of course going to write some actual new blogs soon, I'm not just going to throw up old shit.

Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start. There once was a time when pressing those buttons would result in a happy surprise in a huge array of games. Dubbed the Konami code, it remains famous today and is an Easter egg on many websites. Try it now on giantbomb.com (replacing Start with Enter) and you will be whisked away to the Contra page. However within games, cheat codes are a rarity today. Even just 10 years ago they were still somewhat prevalent, although not as common as in the days of the SNES and Genesis. But in recent years the inclusion of cheats have taken a steep nosedive to the point where they are virtually non-existent. What happened? Where did they go?

Gaming has evolved quickly over recent years, and many of the changes lead to cheat codes being less needed. Many people say that games have become easier, which may have lead to cheats being less necessary. Kazuhisa Hashimoto famously included the Konami code in Gradius because he felt the game was too hard for the average player. If games are getting easier, then the need for cheats will be diminishing. But the changing difficulty in games is a lengthy discussion itself so let's leave it for another day.

However certain gameplay elements have most definitely been streamlined, removing many of the frustrations of gaming that cheats used to alleviate. For example, lives systems are a rarity today, negating the need for unlimited lives cheats. Regenerating health removes the need for a health cheat. More frequent checkpoints and save locations make level warp cheats unnecessary.

BIG HEAD MODE!!!

Another recent trend is the increase in unlockables being obtained via gameplay. Many extras which may have been gained from cheat codes in the past can now be unlocked by various gameplay methods. For example, Army of Two: The 40th Day has a big head mode in which character's heads are humorously enlarged. Rather than entering a code to obtain this, it is unlocked by completing the campaign, and is then activated from a menu.

Downloadable content and microtransactions are other recent additions that have affected cheats. Many downloads that would have been cheats years ago can now be downloaded for a fee. For example, Skate 3 has a downloadable “Time is Money Pack” which unlocks everything in the game that would ordinarily be earned by playing through the career mode. In the past, this would have most likely been accessible via quickly pressing a few buttons on your controller, but now it is a $7 downloadable add-on.

A further reason for the fall of cheats is a modern addition to games that we all know, love and are hopelessly addicted to – achievements. Achievements have become a major part of gaming today and in order to be a somewhat meaningful system, everyone must have a level playing field. If a player could enter a code that would make obtaining the achievements easier, that is unfair on players who are unaware of the code. And while developers could disable the achievements while a cheat is activated, many simply elect to not include cheat codes at all.

Of course, cheat codes aren't completely dead yet. You can still see them in modern games such as Grand Theft Auto 4, Saints Row 2, Scot Pilgrim Vs. The World, Rock Band 2 and more. Long live the cheat code!!!

Moderator
Posted by Hargreaves93

I agree with what you said about cheats being incorporated less because of achievement points. The last game I cheated, just for a bit of a laugh once I got my achievements was GTA IV and getting the helicopter. However, before that the last game I cheated on was San Andreas and that was released back in 2004!

Posted by Starfishhunter9

You cheater...

Posted by Hargreaves93

I also don't agree with the Skate method of cheating, charging your customers just to have a potentially more fun time? I do however think unlocking cheats like in the style of Goldeneye is still a good idea.

Posted by Matoya

ABACABB

Edited by Slaker117

I kind of prefer the unlockable modifiers take on cheats myself. You still get the fun of messing with game, but it feels more legitimate, something you earned, rather than an arbitrary code you just happen to know that makes things easier for no good reason.

Posted by Chop

I just miss the crazy awesome cheat codes of GTA old. I want my riot mode and turn everyone into clown cheats back!

Posted by Masha2932
Posted by TaliciaDragonsong

Saints Row, lots of cheats to input and doing so disables achievements, best you could ask for.
I really hope that if there's a new Timesplitters coming there will be nonsense like the old cheats in PFD/Goldeneye, its needed.

Posted by Tordah

I just tried doing the Konami code right here like you said. My mind is blown.

Posted by MattyFTM
Moderator
Posted by mfpantst

I want more of the GTA3 style cheats (all pedestrians have weapons, all pedestrians are psycho) in my open world games.

Edited by Fogh

The Konami kode doesn't work on Giant Bomb anymore. It used to take you to the Contra page. Does anyone know what I'm talking about?

Edit: Okay you have to press Enter/Return at the end. Stupid me.

Posted by WJist

The majority of the cheating I did was of the Gameshark/Game Genie variety, but I still got a few laughs out of big head mode. The inputs you talk about used to be some of the most popular sections of gaming mags. There were also a lot of fake codes, like Up+B to increase chances of capture in the original Pokemon.

Posted by MooseyMcMan

Reading this made me reminisce about having to buy a magazine in order to find cheat codes to unlock stupid stuff in games because we didn't have a computer. How the times have changed.

Moderator
Posted by Galiant

Cheats aren't fun.

Posted by rmanthorp

I wish more games had still cheats... Achievements had a hand to play in them being ruined for me :<

Moderator
Posted by ArbitraryWater

It's kind of funny, when I see the "TOTALLY RADICAL BOOK OF CHEATS BRO" (which now basically just contains all the achievements for games instead of actual cheats) at Best Buy right next to the game guides for linear action games, I always kind of laugh. I always associate cheat codes with my 8 year old self being unable to complete Rogue Squadron without infinite lives, or similar instances of me generally sucking at stuff, being a kid and all. I also remember associating cheats with all the really garbage games I rented (back when I rented games) in that same era. Now that I am an adult who can actually buy his own games and is not restricted to the paltry gamecube and N64 selections at the Blockbuster (now out of business... obviously), I retrospectively associate cheats with me not being good enough at games to be able to play them myself, and the desire to see as much content as possible in those 5 days.

Maybe it's just me, but I don't think we need cheats. Maybe I'm just a curmudgeon, but if I'm going to play a game at this point, I want to play it legitimately, and if the game has postgame unlockables that let you screw around on future playthroughs (a la Resident Evil 5), those are far more appealing than me scrounging the internet for some lengthy multi-digit code so I can enable invincibility... which still exists in the Lego games. Which are meant for children. Hmmm....

Posted by MaFoLu

Wow, I love the fact that the Konami code works here! Why haven't I learned this before?

I love cheats, they are perfect for when you just can't be bothered to actually play the game properly, or when you just want to mess around.

I also don't see why some people have a problem with cheats in Singleplayer games...

Posted by SSully

Cheats are gone and personally, i dont mind that much. Cheats have always been a way of just dicking around for me after I beat the game. I would never play with cheats for more then 30 mins. What I do like though is when games, like how you referenced army of two, give you cheats for beating the game and stuff like that. Its nice to get a little reward like that, and can be fun to mess around with for a few minutes.

The cheats I miss the most though are for grand theft auto. GTA games always were the best games to use cheats for, and honestly the only games I spent more then a few hours messing around with cheats to cause mayhem. I thought GTA4 was a little less enjoyable without flying car cheats, angry peds, and the other wacky cheats. Sure they had unlimited ammo, and let you spawn some vehicles, but what is the point when you dont have everyone in the city trying to run you over?

Posted by ZombiePie

Your banner is breaking Giant Bomb for me.

Moderator
Posted by wolf_blitzer85

Long live the console and no clip!

Posted by FateOfNever

I kind of miss cheat codes...

Posted by nail1080

@FateOfNever said:

I kind of miss cheat codes...

well if they're so good just play all those games with cheat codes which make the game just so fucking brilliant

Posted by Discorsi

Games being easier is definitely the biggest reason. Games these days *waves 19 year old fist*

Posted by WatanabeKazuma

Achievements/Trophies have largely negated them, which is understandable given that they are all about the bragging rights. I know that games like GTA IV still implement them (although at the cost of those points) but I can't really pull up any other recent examples from memory.

I think the last time I even used cheats was in the GTA 3 days, the game just didn't lend itself to item management in my opinion. I had a much better time when I never had to worry about restocking my supplies, this in part was one of the reasons I felt IV felt so unlike the others.

I remember the days of Gamesmaster magazine always giving out cheat books with every issue, I used to think it was odd looking through if a particular game wasn't included. I don't think I would have played the original Tomb Raider games so much were it not for the cheats.

Posted by rjayb89

I didn't read anything in this post, but I got real, real bitter when I found out there were barely any cheat codes for Grand Theft Auto IV. San Andreas had all this crazy shit like make everyone hookers with dildos and shit, that was awesome. And a code for when you hit a car it would just float for whatever the fuck. God damn you, Grand Theft Auto IV. God damn you.

Posted by nail1080

@rjayb89 said:

I didn't read anything in this post, but I got real, real bitter when I found out there were barely any cheat codes for Grand Theft Auto IV. San Andreas had all this crazy shit like make everyone hookers with dildos and shit, that was awesome. And a code for when you hit a car it would just float for whatever the fuck. God damn you, Grand Theft Auto IV. God damn you.

You can do anything you want with GTA4 on a PC, and the same goes for San Andreas and any other game. A logical person would soon realise that cheat codes are just mods for kiddies

Posted by MattyFTM

@ZombiePie said:

Your banner is breaking Giant Bomb for me.

It's fine for me. And no one else has complained.

Moderator