The Secret Origins of 5 Famous Secret Codes
It seems this day that the concept of a cheat code is just plain dead. Once upon a time you lived for the day when you'd discover the secret combination of button presses that would gift you with more lives, infinite ammo, a super jump, whatever wish your heart desired to beat those old school Nintendo-hard games.
It's all but gone from modern gaming, though for some reason every game I play lately has a button sequence that makes everyone's heads larger for reasons that probably make sense to a game designer that's been up for three days straight. So today I thought I'd look back on the codes that defined classic gaming, and how they even came to be in the first place.
The Konami Code: The Konami Code is easily the most memorable code in the history of gaming... which is good because that is precisely why it was invented. One of the programmers of the classic side-scrolling space fighter game Gradius, Kazuhisa Hashimoto, needed to test out the game to make sure the programming was perfect. Trouble is, Gradius is hard as hell, and Hashimoto couldn't get far enough into the damned thing to test.
So he came up with the easiest button sequence he could remember in order to gift himself with full power-ups. See, that was the only way that a lot of programmers could even playtest the games back in the day, by making themselves invincible so they could get far enough in to make sure the later levels didn't have errors. Problem is he left it in the game accidentally, and now you can find it almost everywhere.
The Blood Code: Mortal Kombat remains a defining game. It led to the ESRB ratings for games, sparked congressional harrumphing, changed fighting games forever, and it was also one of the few times in the world the Sega Genesis was able to instruct the SNES to bite them.
Nintendo has always been a squeamish company, and they announced that they would only bring a censored version of Mortal Kombat that was blood free with toned down (Albeit better) fatalities. Sega decided they would bring the real deal, and used a code to unlock blood mode. That code was ABACABB, and if you can remember two codes this is the other one.
Why ABACABB? Because Abacab is a Genesis album, and not only was the game on the Genesis system, Genesis is one of Mortal Kombat creator Ed Boon's favorite bands.
Noclip: One of the few cheats that is still consistently seen in gaming is the No Clip mode in first person games, which enables you to walk through walls and sometimes find things that the programmers have hidden such as John Romero's severed head in Doom 2 and Elexis Sinclair masturbating up close in SiN.
Originally the concept was known as idspispopd, then idclip. Id Software's John Carmack coined the clip term because he considered hitting an in-game wall to be "clipping a movement vector." The first time the now standardized term was used as a cheat was probably in Carmack's series Commander Keen.
Justin Bailey: There are two passwords in the original Metroid that offer something great. One gives you lots of power-ups, and one strips Samus down to her bathing suit. Guess which one is more famous?
Passwords were used in games when memory wasn't available for save files, and as a dedicated Mega Man fan I can assure you that they sucked. Metroid had an insanely random password system to control variables, but everyone can remember Justin Bailey and blank spaces for the second line. That's why the password has remained in gamer's mind today. But who is Justin Bailey?
No one named Justin Bailey was a part of the development process of Metroid, and contrary to rumor Just In Bailey is not Australian slang for being in a bathing suit. Believe it or not, the name is a complete fluke, a coincidence of the Metroid password system. It was discovered by accident early on and was easy to remember.
Second Quest: In the original Legend of Zelda, once you beat the game you got access to a second quest where dungeons and items were in different places and the game was slightly harder. You could bypass straight to this quest by entering your name as ZELDA on the title screen, forever contributing to the idea that Link's name is Zelda.
Have you ever stopped to wonder why there is even a second quest in the first place? It was because one of the most iconic games in Nintendo history mistakenly only used half of its available memory. Not wanting to just left it all go to waste, the developers used it to create an entirely new adventure with existing assets, and made it as easy to find as possible so gamers could enjoy either adventure at their leisure.
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