7 Legendary Cheat Codes (And The Stories Behind Them)

Ever since the dawn of videogames, people have been thinking of faster and more stylish ways to get through them. Programmers and designers sometimes add in extra options that can be activated by enterting in a code, and in 1986, the cheat code was born. Better weapons, new costumes, level selectors, and big heads have brought joy to gamers around the world over the years, the thrill of the easter egg hunt almost being as great as the new toys and powers you can play with.

Cheat codes don’t get nearly as much play anymore, but they’re still fondly remembered among the loot boxes and microtransactions. As a tribute, we decided to do some digging for stories behind some of the most well-known cheat codes of all time.

1. Konami Code

You probably see it when you close your eyes at this point: Up up down down left right left right B A Start. Turns out the most famoud video game cheat code of all time was a necessity to actually test the game. Programmer Kazuhisha Hashimoto had a hard time beating the game, so he introduced the code as a way to give himself a leg up. He allegedly forgot to take the cheat out when the game was shipped out en masse, giving the secret of extra lives to millions of shooters around the world.

2. Mortal Kombat EBG menus

Mortal Kombat arcade cabinets are worth their weight in gold to fighting fans, especially because there’s still codes and secrets being unearthed decades later. One secret that’s been eluding fans for years is EBG menus, tech menus created by series creator Ed Boon and hidden under a flurry of block button presses.

Youtuber Your MK Arcade Source actually went through with the punishing button combos, which you can see above.

3. Debug mode in Sonic The Hedgehog 2

Every videogame you can possibly think of has a debug menu for fixing problems. Sonic The Hedgehog’s debug menu has become something of a fan favorite since the series’ inception in 1991, an Easter egg that lets you spawn items and transform into the gold-skinned Super Sonic thanks to a cheat code.

Every Sonic game from the first one up until 1994’s Sonic Spinball for the Game Gear has a cheat code enabled debug menu, but it was brought back as a reward for collecting 16 bonus Medallions in last year’s professional fan game Sonic Mania.

4. Big Head Mode in NBA Jam

Big Head Mode is exactly what it sounds like, a cheat that grants every character in a given game a big head. It first showed up in the 1993 classic NBA Jam, a fun way to make legends like Gary Payton and Michael Jordan even more ridiculous. But what started on the court eventually found its way to just about every game imaginable. It got to the point where first-person shooter fans would complain about Big Head Mode because it gave an unfair headshot advantage. Just another reason why we can’t have nice things.

5. More money from The Sims

One thing that most remember more than playing The Sims is finding ways to mess around with The Sims. On top of trapping your sims in their pools and showers by removing the ladders and doors, you could also give yourself more simoleans (sometimes I forget this is actually what Sims money is called) by entering the Motherlode cheat code. Why work your way through the game when you can just build the multi-million dollar home you and your future trap victims have always dreamed of?

6. God Mode in Doom

As one of the first FPS games in history, Doom has a lofty reputation to this day. It was also one of the more famous examples of the “god mode” invincibility cheat. Running through hordes on hordes of aliens that hopped off of a sheet of graph paper is an amazing experience when there’s no repurcussions.

7. Akuma in Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo

The road of Street Fighter bosses is long and trecherous. Gamers wasted many hours trying to unlock Sheng Long, the hoax character that led to the creation of Akuma and Ryu and Ken’s master Gouken within the series. Almost as a way to make up for the hoax of Sheng Long, a cheat code to play as Akuma, only an extremely difficult boss at the time, was included in Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo. Now you can kick ass without restraint.


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