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What Happened to Video Game Cheats?
Posted on Monday, May 9 2011 @ 09:33:09 Eastern

In the old days of video games, cheats weren't exactly in your face but once it was known a game had a cheat inside, you would probably try everything else in your power to see if there were other cheats you can fiddle around with. Unlock all characters, level select, infinite lives, sound test, and so much more were up for grabs. Whether cheats were obtained by entering a button code or doing something such as 100% completion, many kids and teens were excited to see what they could unlock. On top of these, you have exploits that weren't intended but can make the game even more wacky and fun.Times have changed and time has not been so kind to video game cheats. What happened to cheats? What happened to the fun stuff that made us come back for more to keep playing?


First, let's talk about what happened to the cheats and what changed them. For a good portion of games, gone are the days where you can have invincibility, infinite lives, or unlocking extra levels. For the most part, games nowadays already have a level select feature that grows as you complete more levels. Lives are pretty much a thing of the past and are exchanged for a more generic health/armor meter. Things like infinite ammo/power ups/health are dwindling in exchange for alternate costumes/skins, artwork, and mainly achievements. Why are these unlockables more common? With more and more games focusing on online multiplayer, many developers feel the replay value lies in there instead of single player and make any unlockables be nothing more than bragging rights and this holds especially true for achievements that you can show off to everyone. With more games focusing with online content, there's no incentive to make hidden content that can make the game too crazy, which can make games unfair for some in a multiplayer setting. A problem with make unlockables be more focused on cosmetics is people can easily show it off on YouTube, making it pointless to see what the next outfit or artwork is in game when you can just do a search online.


Next, why are cheats being pushed to the side completely? Despite video game companies having larger budgets now than they did in the past, most of the budget is focused on making the game look good and making sure the game works properly. With these factors and time being a big constraint, the last thing developers want to do is to test cheats to make sure they don't break the game. Video games are becoming more and more like movies where players only remember the games for the experience while they played and then never pick up the game again unless they want to play again for nostalgia's sake. Games are also being made to cut down on many possible exploits as possible, forcing players to play the way the developers want them to. Ask anyone who played and completed Super Metroid and the majority of them will tell you about the final battle between Samus and Mother brain, but another chunk of the fan base would tell you about how they used the wall jump technique to reach areas they didn't think they could get to or talk about the weird effects they gotten when they messed around with power up combinations. It's no surprise when players got upset that Metroid Prime and Metroid Fusion forced players to stick to the path that the developers intended.


There's really no excuse on why cheats and such can't be used the way they were back then. Not every multiplayer game will have their severs running forever and not everyone will want to keep playing multiplayer. Let's take a look at the Streets of Rage Remake. Except for hidden characters, players can immediately see what cheats and features they can unlock and what they do. Not only this gets the player excited to unlock them but they can choose which ones they want to unlock first, which gets the player to replay the game over and over to rack up points needed to get these cheats. By showing the player what they can unlock, it gives them the incentive to keep playing instead of the player wondering what they can unlock, get it, and then get upset that the content sucks.
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