Devil: I'll grant you any three wishes. Just remember, you'll be going to Hell afterwards.
Devil: And the third?
Gamer: What third? Come on, send me to Hell already. It's ass kicking time.note
A Cheat Code
is a sequence of commands which turns on an undocumented, advantageous feature within a game. These are typically backdoors inserted during programming to facilitate testing by the designers. Since cartridge-based games used fixed memory locations, removing these backdoors after development was problematic (since their removal could lead to new unexpected bugs), so they were often left in for released versions.
Even after cartridges were replaced by CD-ROMs as the main video gaming medium, cheat codes remained popular.
A cheat code is a beneficial-in-game Easter Egg
. If it's completely unrelated (like the flight sim in Microsoft Excel, or the special room in the Atari 2600 Adventure
cartridge) then it's an Easter Egg
, but not a cheat code.
A few cheat codes have become so well known that you can expect to see homages
in modern games. (Homages not from video games are listed under subpages of Shout-Out
See Konami Code
for one of the most famous cheat codes.
open/close all folders
- In every The Legend of Zelda game, the player can choose a name for the main character. Entering the name ZELDA (all caps) in the original The Legend of Zelda immediately starts the player on the second quest. In The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, entering ZELDA treats you to a catchy remix of the series theme song.
- JUSTIN BAILEY - A password beginning with this sequence lets a player start Metroid 1 with an unarmored Samus and much of the game completed. Various hypotheses arose as to who or what "Justin Bailey" was, note but it was later proven to be a coincidence — the password system is coded so that many English word combinations produce valid results.
- Catherine features a Shout-Out to the code, with a character whose full name is Justin Bailey.
- Shadow Complex, another Metroidvania, also includes a reference: completing the Master Level Challenge of collecting 100% of its items in under 2 hours gives you the title "Jason Bailey".
- A Metroid cheat code that is not a coincidence but which remained undetected for years is NARPASSWORD. It's hardcoded to bypass the usual password logic and checksums, and grants Samus infinite health and missiles, the Ice Beam, and every power-up in the game with the exception of Energy Tanks and missile expansions. There are several hypotheses regarding the code's name. Some say the first three letters stand for Tohru Narihito, who converted the game to cartridge format from the original Famicom Disk System version (which used battery backup instead of passwords). Others say the code is short for North American Release Password, inserted into the American version for debug purposes. Nintendo themselves claim it stands for Not A Real Password (ironic since it is a real password). Still others have searched the game far and wide for the elusive Narpas Sword...
- A coincidental password remained elusive for years until someone tried it out of sheer curiosity. The password was ENGAGE RIDLEY MOTHER FUCKER. The password worked similar to the Justin Bailey code, but the graphics became corrupted and the screen was locked in place, preventing you from moving ahead.
- In the PC version of Tomb Raider II, attempting to use the "All Weapons" cheat note from the original Tomb Raider causes Lara to explode. The sequence does work as expected if Lara is holding a flare at the time.
- Tomb Raider III had even more fun with that: you have to do everything like in the second game, but with your pistols unholstered and adding a crouch before turning around. Wielding any other item or omitting the crouch once again causes Lara to explode.
- The Crusader games' cheat codes requires an activation code to be entered. In the first, this is JASSICA16. In the second game, No Regret, entering this results in a message popping up saying, "Of course we changed the cheats...duh." And then you're teleported to an open room with no cover to face down ten of the game's boss fight at once. The real activation code here is LOOSECANNON16, the game being the brainchild of... Loose Cannon.
- Grand Theft Auto 3 on the Playstation 2 had a number of codes, including some (like making the pedestrians fight each other, or hate and attack you) that could not be disabled; if you saved, the cheat was restored/re-enabled when the game was reloaded. The only way to undo them was to restart the game, either from scratch or from a save game in which the cheat had not been enabled. The PC version had memorable codes, too. gunsgunsguns gave you every weapon (repeating "guns" over and over gave you more ammo), giveusatank made the Rhino fall out of the sky, tortoise gave you 100 armor, gesundheit gave you 100 health, ilikedressingup made you look like a random pedestrian. And the eternally entertaining BANGBANGBANG, which blew up every single car on your screen. Like gunsgunsguns, every new entry of bang blew up all the cars again, meaning a skilled typist could send all the vehicles on screen into orbit, only to have them come crashing down several minutes later provided the player didn't leave their current location.
- Such "undoable" cheat codes also exist in the other games. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas had a particularly nasty attitude towards the use of cheat codes, with many causing AI characters in the game to act strangely and, if one saves a game with a cheat code active, or too many cheat codes are entered, some missions become impossible to complete, rendering it impossible to complete the game.
- The password system in the NES version of Metal Gear is coded in a way that it recognizes actual names and words. One of the most infamous passwords in the game is FUCKM E1111 11111 11111 11111, which takes the player directly to the final boss battle with no weapons in their equipment. The PAL version censored this by revamping the Password system so that it no longer featured vowels and certain consonants.
- The Konami Code (up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, Start) was and still is used in several games made by Konami. The first time was in the NES game Gradius, where it gave your ship every powerup available. Another was Contra, where it gave you 30 lives.
- The game GoldenEye for N64 actually featured unlockable cheat codes that could be activated individually for Campaign Mode missions after completing an unspecified challenge within the game. Although, one could simply bypass the Challenge system and use a cheat code to unlock the cheat codes.
- In the Home Alone PC game, you can press Insert, F1, F2, F3 to make Kevin fly. While using that, if you go to the top left or top right corners of the screen, you can end up warping to a different room.
- In the PC Engine version of the Irem game Mr. Heli no Daibouken, the code for up to 99 continues was I, II, II, I, Select. Entering the same code in Ninja Spirit would just display the message "Do you play Mr. Heli?"
- In the NES version of Ikari Warriors, A, B, B, A was the code to continue after a Game Over or join as second player.
- Banjo-Kazooie had a very frustrating cheat code system. To unlock it, you had to collect the Jiggy from the underwater castle in Treasure Trove Cove and then re-enter it. You could then enter the cheat codes... the letters of which were all on the floor and you had to use the Beak Buster power to spell out what you wanted. This could usually take a while, since you also had to begin the cheat with the word CHEAT, and the cheats themselves were hideously long. As an example, in order to get infinite blue eggs, you needed to enter CHEATBANJOBEGSFORPLENTYOFEGGS.
- "XYZZY" is a magic word in Colossal Cave Adventure. While not originally a cheat code, homages to Colossal Cave use it as such, and the hobbyist text-adventure development community traditionally includes a hidden "xyzzy" command as a tribute. Slightly less commonly used is "PLUGH" which functions the same as "XYZZY" in Colossal Cave. (Depending on what version of the game you play, other words such as "PLOVER" and "LWPI" also appear.)
- In Deus Ex, this is one of the passwords JC Denton uses to attempt to get into Smuggler's place when he doesn't know the real one.
- In the online text adventure game Grueslayer on Uncyclopedia, there will usually be an option to either pronounce or say "xyzzy" or a variant with a different number of X's and Z's. Doing this at any time will kill you horribly.
- Kingdom of Loathing, a text-adventure parody in itself, references this in the Leaflet Quest.
- Some versions of Windows Minesweeper have a cheat where typing "xyzzy" and then pressing the Shift and Enter keys enables the player to identify whether or not a given square contained a mine by looking at the upper-left-most pixel of the screen.
- The adult text adventure game Moist has "xyzzy" teleport you to the ballroom in the middle of the map (and lampshades it with the comment "Good to see the old magic still works").
- Use of this word in Level 9's Snowball (or indeed, any magic word from any of their previous games) would cause a psychiatric droid to tap you on the shoulder, then tranquillize you, and you would wake up in a padded cell. Fortunately, there was a way out. It can be used to teleport away from death, and lets you into an area that you might not have unlocked yet, but this can lead to Script Breaking and even make the game Un Winnable.
- Trying either "plugh" or "xyzzy" in Zork causes the game to tell you "A hollow voice says 'Fool'." This in itself is commonly referenced.
- The first Zork game has the instructions on how to use the boat start with the phrase "Hello, Sailor!" (The game gives the same response to "Hello, Sailor!" as it does to "xyzzy" and "plugh".) The second game has the same things built in and also introduces "Hello, Aviator!" on the instructions for how to use the hot air balloon. These become a Brick Joke in the third game, in which saying "Hello, Sailor!" at the right time and place nets you an invisibility potion.
- Hype The Time Quest has a bunch of these: thereyougo= all magic, houdini= infinite arrows, druidik= infinite magic, along with a bunch more.
- Neverwinter Nights had the memorable command "dm_cowsfromhell", which sent a swarm of cows flying around dealing 50 damage and exploding every time they hit anyone.
- Ecco the Dolphin: Pause with Ecco facing you mid-turn, and punch in RIGHT,B,C,B,C,DOWN,C,UP,then press 'start', and you'll get the 'debug menu'. Although you did have to be careful with the level select, due to the way it would glitch on some levels. The unlimited life came in handy. Ecco also had a couple of password-type cheats, namely LIFEFISH and SHARKFIN, for unlimited life and invulnerability. The sequels also had cheats. 'The Tides of Time' had a debug menu and Defender of the Future had cheat codes for level unlock. And yes, you can still access these codes on the Wii Virtual Console and Apple apps of the game.
- In Retro Game Challenge, your gamer friend will occasionally bring in magazines that contain cheat codes and other weird gaming rumors. These can even be used when the games are made available to you in Free-Play mode. Most of the cheats you get from the magazines are okay to use on challenges, unless stated otherwise. Though, in a meta-sense, are they actually cheating, or are they part of the game on account of being incorporated in its setting?
- In Space Quest 6, the ABBACAB cheat is used to activate a secret weapon in the Stooge Fighter game. You have to learn this by buying a cheat sheet. Unless the cheat is used, the game is rigged against you (because your opponent is already using the secret weapon on you).
- For layers of awesome, it's hard to beat Mortal Kombat's cheat code on the Sega Genesis to unlock actual blood. The code was ABACABB, which is likely a reference to the album ABACAB by The Eighties rock band... wait for it... Genesis! The Genesis version of Shadowrun has a variation: ABBACAB, which could be a reference to the same and/or The Seventies band ABBA.
- The master cheat for the Sega Saturn version of Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 is CRAZYCYRAX, where R corresponds to the right shoulder button, not right on the D-pad.
- In the Virtua Fighter series, Dural was always selectable on the home consoles by pressing Down, Up, Right, A + Left on certain characters (usually the one on the furthest right or left), or D.U.R.A.L. However after 4, you either had to purchase Dural, or attain a certain rank to be able to fight as her.
- In the SNES port of Street Fighter II, you could punch in Down, R, Up, L, Y, B, on the Capcom logo to unlock mirror matches. The "sequel" Street Fighter II Turbo used it on controller 2 to enable mega turbo mode or disable specials if done on the "Licensed by Nintendo" screen. King of Dragons appended X and A to the code to unlock same-character select.
- Doom has a number of cheat codes prefixed by the character sequence "ID" — the most popular being "IDDQD" (God Mode) and "IDKFA" (full armor and ammo plus all weapons and keys). The "ID" prefix obviously stands for developer id Software, but not many fans know that "DQD" stands for Delta-Q-Delta, the name of a three-person informal fraternity organized by Doom programmer Dave Tailor during his college days. "KFA" simply stands for Keys, Full Ammo.note Several later games, particularly in the same genre, have carried on the tradition.
- If you type any code from the original Doom into the developer console in Doom 3, you get the message "Your memory serves you well!" and nothing more.
- In Activision's Windows release of Earthworm Jim, entering "IDDQD" and "IDKFA" would display two different credits screens.
- The same thing happens with the PC version of Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure, displaying a screen of the team saying 'This Ain't Doom!'
- If you have one of the older versions of Microsoft Excel that has the mini-FPS hidden inside it, try the code "EXCELKFA".
- Heretic includes "IDDQD"... but, in a case of Jackass Genie, doing so instantly kills you with the message "Trying to cheat, eh? Now you die!" Likewise, "IDKFA" deprives you of everything except a staff ("Cheater - you don't deserve weapons!"). Players were likely to try these codes at least once, considering that the game used the Doom engine.
- Using "IDDQD" in Mech Warrior 2 detonates your BattleMech with the message "This ain't Doom, bub".
- Typing "IDKFA" into Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3's password entry screen allows you to skate as the Doom Guy, complete with his own set of Doom-themed skateboards.
- The no-clip code for Doom is "IDSPISPOPD". It's both a code and an in-joke: an acronym for "Smashing pumpkins into small piles of putrid debris." note Lampshaded in the novel for Doom, where the Cacodemons are called Pumpkins by the hero(es) and, after a particularly gruesome encounter, the Action Girl shouts, "OOH-RAH! Smashing pumpkins into small piles of putrid debris!"
- By the way, none of "IDKFA", "IDDQD", "IDSPISPOPD", "IDBEHOLD" or their ilk work on the version of Doom that comes with the Doom 3 BFG Edition.
- In Heretic, god mode is "QUICKEN" and all weapons is "RAMBO". If you try "QUICKEN" three times in the sequel Hexen, your character instantly dies. However, in an unintended and unforeseen portability between the two games, typing "QUICKEN" and then "RAMBO" just so happens to include the sequence for Hexen's own all weapons code: "NRA".
- The "Supreme Cheat" from the first Turok game is a vowel-less version of a specific phrase: NTHGHTHDGDCRTDTRK stands for "ON THE EIGHTH DAY GOD CREATED TUROK". The sequel has a cheat that also functions as a Sequel Hook: "bewareoblivionisathand". For the PC port which came out after Turok 3, the code became "oblivionisamongus".
- Donkey Kong Country has "BARRAL", the 50 lives cheat. There is also "DYDDY" for accessing the bonus stages ("Diddy" being the name of Donkey Kong's sidekick, of course!) Entering "B-A-down-B-up-down-down-Y" (BAD BUDDY) after selecting "Erase Game" on the file select screen allows players to swap out in co-op mode by just one person pressing the 'A' button, and pressing "down-A-R-B-Y-down-A-Y", then Select in the same manner changes the music on the screen.
- Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest features two cheats on the game select screen that spell words. "BARRALAX" removes the DK barrels note , and "YASADLAD" gives you 50 lives (because if you need 50 lives to beat the game, YA have to be a SAD LAD).
- Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! has a code menu you can access with a key combination, but then you'll have to input letters to create the code, and it has quite a few codes to play around with. Where's the fun in that?
- Mega Man 2: A5 B2 D5 D4 C5 C1 B4 C3 E2. Many gamers fondly remember this password that brought them to Wily's Castle with 4 E-Tanks. You may not remember those exact coordinates, but odds are you'll recognize it once you see it.
- In Sonic the Hedgehog, the level select code is "up, down, left, right, then hold A and press Start". Pressing C after each direction activates debug mode. The first version of the code is used in a number of other Mega Drive games.
- In Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island, press B, A, right, A, C, up, down, A ("BARACUDA") to unlock level select. This is also a common sequence in Mega Drive games.
- Sega Genesis note Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure: the level select cheat was B, Right, A, Down, Right, Up, B, Left, A, Up, Right, A. Which, of course, makes one wonder just who Brad and Laura are...
- One of the oldest cheat codes, and possibly one of the best-known, is "6031769" from the 1983 Sinclair ZX Spectrum game Manic Miner (it unlocked a teleport system). This was later homaged in Grand Theft Auto (by British developers Rockstar North), which uses this as one of its cheat codes.
- The sequel, Jet Set Willy, in its original release had a similar teleport system if you typed in the word "typewriter". A later re-release when the author moved from Bug Byte to Software Projects changed it to "writetyper".
- In Yoshi's Island, you could access several mini-games by holding Select and pressing XXYBA. Not in vain, since you could keep the items you won. Happy farming!
- Some Hudson Soft games allow to continue from the last stage you got Game Over (instead of going back to 1-1) by using hold LEFT and press START cheat code. Works in Adventure Island and Milon's Secret Castle.
- Maze Of Galious had one that was more of a secret move than a cheat code: if you had the Dagger, typing "UMBRELLA" on the keyboard would kill all the Goddamned Bats on screen. There was also "ZEUS", which let you continue after a Game Over.
- The Lion King had a level select menu that also allowed you to listen to level music. Unfortunately, you would always get bounced back to level 2 after finishing a level.
- In Monty on the Run, the way to get the infinite lives cheat began with getting a high score and typing in "I WANT TO CHEAT".
- Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse had a seemingly superfluous name entry feature, until you discovered that naming yourself "HELP ME" changed your life count from 3 to 11. Which you will find yourself in desperate need of.
The Angry Video Game Nerd:
"HELPME". That's it, you spell "HELPME". Isn't that the most appropriate password you ever heard? Because anyone who plays this game, that's exactly what you're thinking.
- Mario Adventure has several, among them being a Sound Test.
- In Bubble Bobble (the arcade version), entering certain controller codes on the title screen that would make powerups permanent, reveal all secret doors, and unlock the "Super Game." In Rainbow Islands, the same three codes produced hint messages instead.
- Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3: Pause, press select 16 times, hold B, and go nuts. The only downside is that you have to wait a whole minute while your 999 coins are slowly added to your treasury at the end of the level.
- The Sega Genesis game Skitchin' has the code B, A, Down, A, Start, Start, which unlocks the ability to put in secret passwords. These include starting on later levels (PIZZA to start on Chicago, for example), changing your character's head (MOHAWK to get... you can guess), and getting items to use during races (THRASH for the most powerful weapons).
- Carmageddon has the family unfriendly IBETYOUCANTPRINTCUNT code, which enables Cheat Mode and also gives the player debug access.
- In Star Wars Episode I Racer for the Nintendo 64, holding down the Z button and using the L Button to set RRTANGENTABACUS as your file name gave you access to the debug menu when you paused. In this menu you could change things like your acceleration and top speed, invulnerability, enabling zero gravity on the whole track, and enabling an otherwise unavailable control scheme with two N64 joypads.
- The first Age of Empires, despite being set in ancient times, can give you a James Bond-style car with hidden rocket launchers ("BIGDADDY"), or futuristic soldiers that can fire powerful (nuclear) missiles across the map ("E=MC2 TROOPER") or that wield laser-SMGs ("PHOTON MAN"). The game also has codes like "FLYING DUTCHMAN" which enables your ships to travel over land, "JACK BE NIMBLE" which gives you a powerful catapult that fires villagers and cows, and "MEDUSA" which reincarnates every peasant as a more powerful unit every time they die. "DARK RAIN" makes your archers turn into trees when not moving, which is very effective for multiplayer games.
- Age of Empires III, set in The Colonial Period, has "Sooo Good" which shows kill messages like "Musketeer'd!", "tuck tuck tuck" which gives you a highly invincible monster truck (or "Tommynator", if you will) that rolls over enemy units and buildings, and "Where's that axe?" which unleashes a giant George Washington bust on your enemies (going by the name of "George Crushington" and breathing fire).
- The password for an instant win in Starcraft is "there is no cow level", referencing a rumor in Blizzard's Diablo (which became an actual level in Diablo II). There was also a user group known as "Operation: CWAL (Can't Wait Any Longer)" on the Blizzard forums before the official release of Starcraft; as a Shout-Out, the cheat code for super fast construction is "operation cwal". The cheat for infinite energy is "the gathering", a reference to Magic: The Gathering. Other cheats include "black sheep wall", "food for thought", and "power overwhelming". Starcraft II has terribleterribledamage and moredotsmoredots.
- In the first Warcraft, the code to enable cheat codes is "corwin of amber". To make your units invincible and able to kill enemies in one hit, type "it is a good day to die". "ides of march" takes you to the last mission for the campaign, while "eye of newt" gives all casters all spell upgrades.
- Warcraft II once again has "it is a good day to die", and adds "on screen" to remove the Fog of War and "make it so" for fast building/training/researching. Meanwhile, "there can be only one" results in instant victory, and "every little thing she does" upgrades your units' magic.
- The instant win password in Warcraft III is "allyourbasearebelongtous", while the instant defeat password is "somebodysetupusthebomb". The code to give yourself gold is "keysersoze n", where n is the amount you want. "greedisgood n" gets you n of both gold and lumber. "thereisnospoon" gives all units infinite mana. "strength and honor" prevents the computer from declaring your loss. "whoisjohngalt" allows research upgrades even if you haven't met the requirements (such as having a Workshop in order to research Long Rifles). warpten gives instant builds. iocainepowder grants instant death attacks to all your units. "iseedeadpeople" removes the Fog of War. The instant-death-plus-invincibility cheat is "whosyourdaddy".
Shoot 'Em Up
- Gleylancer for Mega Drive had a cheat code that spelled out a phrase on the controller...in Japanese! And it's an entirely appropriate phrase, at that: "BACA DACARA BURUBURU DA" ("I'm trembling because I'm stupid").
- In the original SimCity, hold Shift and type "fund" to get $80,000. If you use it eight times, though, you trigger an earthquake. You can avoid the downside by saving and reloading before you reach the trigger.
- In SimCity 2000, this code offers to loan you $10,000 at 25 percent interest a week. You can exploit this by using the code repeatedly until the ridiculous interest rate wraps around and turns hugely negative.
- Entering "fund" in the cheat console of SimCity 3000 makes your news ticker scroll a message about "an ancient, arcane code".
- In SimCity 2000, "iamacheat" gives you $500,000 and unlocks all buildings and rewards. Typing "priscilla" gives access to a lovely debug console.
- In SimAnt, "iamacheat" results in a message saying "Congratulations, you are now $10,000 richer. Unfortunately, money is useless in this game." Using it in SimFarm donates the money to the nearby city, rather than to your own bank account. Rather than actually doing something useful with the money, the mayor squanders it all on a new car.
- In SimCity 3000, "Call cousin Vinnie" causes a shady-looking character to offer a large sum of money, though this works only once per game. If you reject it, a cop congratulates you for passing a Secret Test of Character and gives you another code to build a castle.
- klapacius (later rosebud) from The Sims. Of course, finding how to get the cheat window to pop up is the fun part. (Ctrl-Shift-C, in case you were wondering.)
- We have "motherlode" now.
- To cheat your way through Shining Force II: at the title screen, press up, down, up, down, left, right, left, right, up, right, down, left, up, B, then hold Start and press C to select your game. You'll know you've done it right if you hear the Item Get theme. Now you can fool the game into thinking you've completed it already, speed up the cursor on the map, and decide whether to assign full control of all characters to the computer or yourself.
- Heroes of Might and Magic III. Tab-nwc[culturalreference]. In all three versions of it. One referenced Monty Python and the Holy Grail: nwcalreadygotone gives you the holy grail and nwcigotbetter to gain a level. The expansions used Matrix and Star Wars Episode 1 references. Popular fanmade expansion Wake of the Gods replaces cheatcodes as well - this time with Lord Of The Rings references.
- Populous normally has 500 levels, with the level names working as a password system. Entering "killuspal" (kill us, pal) as the password warps you to level 999, which is basically suicidal.
- Deadlock had several that could be entered in single player by using the multiplayer talk prompt.
- Invoked by Jan Valentine of Hellsing who screams the Konami Code as he and his ghouls slaughter the anti-vampire defensive forces.
- Kid Radd had an infinite Rocketboard cheat activated by Right, Up, Right, A, Down, Down, Start (RURADD).
- Perplex City has a card whose objective is to name the games that originated many of these popular codes.
- The Big Bad of Wreck-It Ralph uses the Konami code to unlock the source code to Sugar Rush.
- Holding down shift and pressing 838 while on the title screen opened up a developer's screen on many TI-99/4A games, typically allowing you to choose what level to start on, how many lives you had, etc.
- Many Game Boy games used Up, A, Start. When used any time, it would cause an in-game reset.