I remember the old days. Back when you were able to buy an accessory that enabled “cheats” of sorts that were, otherwise, not available in the games themselves. I’m talking about devices like Game Genie, GameShark and Action Replays. What these devices did was access the game memory and changed the settings and numbers in the code in hexidecimal, making the devices, essentially, hex editors.
A lot of people looked down on such devices because they felt that it detracts from the game. I think they enhanced the games. They gave access to things like infinite health, ammunition, power-ups, stuff like that, as well as more quirky things like making certain objects larger or smaller or changing the physics of different devices. They were much like trainers on PC games that, in my personal opinion, made a lot of games more fun.
Case in point? Some people may not have been able to beat certain games on even the lowest difficulty level, so, despite the negativity cheating their way through a game garners, they were still able to finish it and be able to see all the game had to offer (minus the difficulty and skill needed), making the difficulty level like super-casual (they would be great for younger children for sure). Yeah, it cheapens the experience, but it opens the games up to a broader audience and gives the games much more accessibility. As for me, I’d usually play through the game first without using the cheats, and then go back and use these devices, the first ever being the Game Genie for the NES and using it for games like Super Mario Bros. 3 and Mega Man 3.
When we got a PlayStation, I graduated to the GameShark, which worked much in the same way, but was able to access cheats stored onto the disc for each game (as well as giving the ability to input codes yourself and save them to the memory card). Having all the weapons available in Duke Nukem: Time to Kill was a blast, and with the help of the GameShark, I enjoyed that game far beyond the time interest should have run out, but I probably played the game about 20 times .
Same went with Metal Gear Solid, where there was a cheat to have Cardboard Box C in my inventory, which allowed me to hide in the first truck at the Helipad and skip ahead to the snowfield where your fight with Sniper Wolf took place (except you didn’t have to do the fight), and basically got you into the Blast Furnace shed and skip to Disc 2 in less than 15 minutes ). It was very cheap, but it guaranteed Meryl’s survival at the end! It definitely resulted in a lot of missed cutscenes and items (which you’d also want the Level 99 security card as well), but after beating the game multiple times, I went to try all sorts of cheats out.
It was PlayStation 2 where these devices met their peak and, subsequently, their demise. I owned both GameSharks and Action Replays. This was the heyday of such devices, with my main draw being the Grand Theft Auto series. Edison Carter (I don’t know his real name), who was about the GTA hex editing master, had all sorts of unconventional cheats that made the game FAR more enjoyable than the base game and their base cheats. They included the ability to have rare cars spawn in the garages (and change their colors), use the button cheats to spawn different cars than what they usually gave you, low gravity, modifications to the strength of weapons, modifications to the handling lines for the vehicles (which made them fast, increased the traction of vehicles that allowed you to drive up building walls, etc.), different changes like that.
When the XBox came out, it, too, had GameSharks and Action Replays, but they didn’t work the same. Instead of being a Hex Editor, they supplied game saves, which ruined any kind of fun you could have. It was the beginning of the end for those devices, seeing as the PS2 was the last system to use a full-featured version of them.
This generation got even worse, though, as there isn’t any hope for such devices to resurface. Not sure why, but it looks like access to the game’s memory is stopping any kind of development on that front (and issues with the hardware allowing such access), so we probably won’t be seeing those again (so, in this sense, the PC has the upperhand with their trainers).
This also brings me to another issue I have. The lack of any good cheats in games this generation. A lot of games back in the day came with many standard cheats that didn’t necessarily cheapen the experience, but allowed for different effects like wireframe mode and stuff like that. Even the GTA series back in the PS2 days had much better cheats than GTAIV has. What happened to my “Drive cars on water” and “flying cars” cheats? They also ruined that by the use of the phone, which, when shot, caused the phone to close. I had many of the cheats, from GTA3 to San Andreas memorized (and a lot fo them were the same between the games as well).
Today, we got things like Trophies and Achievements that allow for us to want to finish games without cheats, which is more than reason enough to include some fun cheats, which will not allow for certain trophies to be unlocked. Despite a lot of the good cheats missing in the game, GTAIV still has the best cheats, along with the Saint’s Row games. Uncharted 2′s are also nice, but they aren’t hidden either, seeing as you can purchase them (playing through the game with Doughnut Drake is hilarious), but there aren’t any cheats like we used to see even just 6 years ago.
But still, there needs to be more (at least, hidden) cheats in games, because they really do enhance the experience for some of us who want to enjoy their games more. You can only play a game so much before you get bored of it. At least with a collection of good cheats, it extends the enjoyability, allowing for the player to do things he/she wouldn’t be able to do in the game otherwise. I don’t know why more and more games are getting less and less cheats, but I think the industry should bring back the golden age of cheating so those of us who enjoy using them can!
Also, just for reference, I always play a game on the first play-through without cheats, unless the game is boring, of course. This is just me, though, since, even without cheats, I don’t like to grind through a game to unlock all the trophies. That bores me to death (hence why I only have one platinum with Assassin’s Creed II). Other than that I’ll always see what cheats a game has to offer after I beat it so I can try them out on another play through.
Written by: Jay
- Community Manager / Editor-In-Chief