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Where Have All the Cheats Gone?

Mike Wehner | 12 Sep 2011 14:00
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A similar cheating device called Action Replay also made its home console debut around this time in Europe, and boasted a "Trainer" feature that allowed us to discover new exploits in just about any game we owned. It seemed like cheat codes were here to stay, and for the next few console generations, cheaters thrived. And though Nintendo did its best to thwart the plans of cheat accessory makers, developers didn't seem to mind, and continued to include their own cheats as well.

Goldeneye, a milestone in the first-person shooter genre, featured intricate button combinations that unlocked everything from extra multiplayer characters to a fully-stocked arsenal of high-powered firearms.

The 16-bit era brought with it better graphics and more complex and vivid adventures, but cheats largely stayed the same. The Lost Vikings still didn't mind if you skipped levels and Vectorman let you boost health with a simple button combination. Both the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis received the Game Genie and Action Replay treatment as well, and cheat codes flourished. We became comfortable with the fact that a game could be played with the rules turned off, and we wouldn't have had it any other way.

By this point, videogame magazines were regularly devoting massive sections to cheat codes. Standalone books published thousands of codes at a time, and new editions were hitting shelves on a regular basis. It wasn't odd to see kids reading cheat guides in school, and gamers relished the fact that they had complete control over their beloved virtual worlds.

The next console generation brought with it Sony's debut into the home gaming market, the Sega Saturn struggled to keep pace, and the Nintendo 64 did its best to fight off the disc-based gaming revolution. This time is seen by many to be the heyday of cheat codes. Developers now had the power to create massive worlds and were seemingly impatient to help gamers along.

Goldeneye, a milestone in the first-person shooter genre, featured intricate button combinations that unlocked everything from extra multiplayer characters to a fully-stocked arsenal of high-powered firearms. Jet Moto 2 housed a notoriously lengthy set of codes that unlocked every track in the game, and granted access to the "Enigma" racer, whose speed and agility were unmatched.

The Action Replay accessory also graced all three major game consoles, and it was during this generation that the Game Genie finally bowed out. Not content to let the American cheat add-on market remain bare, InterAct scooped up the rights to sell Action Replay accessories stateside under a new brand name, GameShark. GameShark devices included thousands of built-in codes, and later models even included tutorials on how to create our own from scratch.

A new era in code sharing dawned, and cheaters took to the internet to share their knowledge with each other, and create massive databases of cheat codes. Early videogame websites hosted huge archives of cheats and encouraged readers to submit their own. Heading to the web for cheats became so popular that some sites catered to cheat hunters alone.

The following generation brought Microsoft into the home console market, but Sony's PlayStation 2 bested both the Xbox and Nintendo's GameCube. Sega attempted to beat all three companies to the punch by releasing the Dreamcast much earlier than the competing consoles, but its demise was inevitable due to Sega's waning support from gamers.

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