Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Where Have All the Cheats Gone?

Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A.

Arguably the ten most famous button inputs ever known in the video game world. The Konami Code might not have been the first cheat code, but it certainly has become the most recognized. It's done a variety of things, from giving you all the power-ups, to giving you more lives, and even blowing you up under certain circumstances.

Cheat codes themselves aren't anything new, they've been around nearly as long as games themselves have in one form or another. From changing the actual game code on computer games, to the developer included cheats on consoles, cheats have been part of gamer culture whether used for advantage or just for some laughs. So why does it seem to me that lately I've been seeing less and less games that actually have cheats in them these days?

The reason seems to be at least trifold, if not more. The biggest three reasons that I can think of are: 1) that developers are afraid that including cheats in the single player campaign will lead to people finding ways to use them in multiplayer, where their effects would be obviously unbalancing. The thing is that hackers are already a problem online, and they make stuff and get advantages that aren't even included in the game, so if they're going to cheat regardless -- and should be punished with bans and whatnot, of course -- then why deprive a person in the single player campaign from having some fun with God Mode or Big Head Mode or whatever else? It's not like the computer controlled opponents are going to be mad at you for being a cheat, that's what they're there for, to take your punishment with silent dignity (except of course when you pose them in lewd and/or ridiculous fashions or do things like shooting them in the ass or whatever). In fact, when you're playing a difficult game it can be cathartic to go back later with infinite health and ammo and laugh at the things that gave you fits the first time around.

Reasons 2) and 3) are on the same sort of track, so I think I'll be forgiven if I talk about them both at once. You see, the problem arises where the last paragraph actually left off: the idea of using cheats to plow through the game. Developers and gamers alike these days are focused a lot more on games that tell stories beyond "bad things there, shoot them" -- even if that is still what a lot of games boil down to -- in this instance studios might believe that using cheat codes from the onset sort of deprives the meaning of the narrative, because you don't have to struggle where you should or encounter the same difficulties that you would were you not using cheats. Then of course the ever present achievements in games. If developers and designers don't want the story ruined by in game cheats, then they certainly don't want someone using them to unlock things that should take the effort, dedication and skill of the person playing to get.

The thing is, there's easy enough solutions for these problems as well. For example Grand Theft Auto 4 still has cheats like raising or lowering your wanted level, spawning whatever vehicle you want, giving yourself body armor and whatnot, but if you use some of these without unlocking certain achievements first, then those achievements are blocked off and you can't get them any more. If they are important enough to a person, then they won't use cheats or at least won't save after having done so, and for those that don't care it's a non-issue. Likewise, if people are worried about using cheats to plow through the game, then why not just make them accessible after they clear the game once, or only usable on levels that the player has already beaten. Better yet, why not connect them to in level performances. I remember that you had to work damn hard in order to do stuff like get the Invincibility cheat in Goldeneye, and because you had to earn it you also appreciated it more as well.

I'm not saying that all cheats need to be earned, by no means. But what I am saying is that the trend seems to be going towards simply not having cheats at all, and in my assertion that's a damn shame because although they were an ultimately superfluous addition to games, they certainly made for some fun times and good memories.


  1. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood uses your idea of beating a level first to give you cheats. Though the cheat you get for hundredth percenting a memory(which in tills beating it and doing so "Like Ezio")is only good for that memory you can't use it on any other memory.

  2. I've always liked the idea of including cheats on toggle switches. Like Halo Skulls in reverse.


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