Gaming

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.

Flashback Top 10 Best Places to Find the Konami Code

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.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jef Rouner (not cis, he/him) is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner