We live in an era where exploits, unintended ways to beat the system, are more common in video games than official cheat codes hidden away by developers. Including a way to get around some of the more difficult elements and make a game a little easier or more interesting is something of a lost art. Gone are the days of enjoying that “taboo” and collecting game magazines or even official books dedicated to ways to beat the system that developers actually included in their own titles. Yet, even in this dark hour, there are still plenty of games that keep this time honored tradition alive. Cheats may not be as prevalent, but we still see titles saluting them.
Some titles pay tribute to them as a retro homage to what once was. Sonic Mania and Retro City Rampage DX are both modern games with a classic look. They pay tribute to the past in every single way. That includes in the area of cheat codes, as both of them take the time to let people who are willing to put in the extra effort and search for secrets be rewarded. Say you are playing Retro City Rampage DX. If you are in the middle of a game and enter some Konami Code style inputs, you can get things like all characters unlocked (up, up, up, left, right, R, A, R, A on the 3DS) or turn on Gawd Mode (up, up, left, right, left, right, down, down, R, B on the 3DS). Sonic Mania has a Debug Mode with level select that can be unlocked if you get 16 bonus stage medals, as well as the ability to make Boost Pads play voice clips in Hydro City Zone if you press left, left, left, right, right, right, up, up, up while hanging onto a hook switch.
Games like Saints Row 4 and Grand Theft Auto V respect the time-honored tradition of cheating in different ways. But, they are still valid and salute the simpler times. This is due to a mix of inputs and actual cheat entering windows. Saints Row 4 is a little more basic. It calls back to the days where you actually had a space to enter special words to cheat, by letting you go into the HUB menu’s Extras section. There, you could input codes like “unlockitall” to unlock everything, “letsrock” to give you a ton of random weapons, and “mascot” to put every pedestrian into a mascot costume. It is another nod to the way things were.
On the other hand, Grand Theft Auto V fuses old and new together in a wonderful way. It uses two input methods. One involves selecting specific letters, or in this case phone numbers on the cell phone. Putting in a phone number like 1-999-724-654-5537 will make you invisible, for example. Entering 1-999-226-348 will spawn a BMX bike. But, button presses also apply! Pressing Right, X, Right, Left, Right, R1, Right, Left, X, Triangle will make you temporarily invisible for five minutes, as an example. It pays tribute to all the different ways cheats could be entered at once.
But, some of the best ways games are paying tribute to cheats, even now, is when they remember how things went back in their own series. Both Mortal Kombat X and The Sims 4 know the score. Both know what these installments used to do in the past. With Mortal Kombat X, it remembers the way when you would have to button press your way to an extra character, by making you press Up, Up, Triangle on the Tri-Borg variation screen to unlock Cyber Sub-Zero as a playable character. The Sims 4, both on consoles and computers, knows how much we needed that extra cash. In each situation, the “Motherlode” cheat remains, ready to give us an easy $50,000 to spend. (On a console, hold all four of the left and right trigger buttons at the same time to open the cheats console, then use the onscreen keyboard to enter “testingcheats true.” After that, enter “Motherlode” in the box. It’s comforting when companies remember and carry on traditions throughout installments.
So yes, cheat codes aren’t as prevalent as they once were. It is really more of a novelty and oddity than a given. Still, there are lots of titles and companies that remember how much fun having a way to get ahead of the game can be. It’s great to see a time honored tradition isn’t totally forgotten!