10 Cheats That Changed Video Games - Prima Games

10 Cheats That Changed Video Games

by Prima Games Staff

We recently hosted a countdown of the top 100 video game cheats of all time, a list that proudly displays cheats from both old and new games. However, when it comes to real game changers, impactful cheats are few and far between.

That said, there are 10 that changed the course of gaming, whether it was the introduction of god mode (and access to a chainsaw), or the ability to restart a game with a bonus item or character. Not to mention the pure joy of Justin Bailey.

Join us as we look back at the 10 most defining cheats of all time. Did your favorites make the list? Let us know.

10.) NBA Jam – Big Heads and Unlockable Characters (Arcade)

NBA Jam introduced a pair of cheats that would go on to become staples in other sports games – including later versions of NBA Jam. Whether you preferred a player with an inflated head (to go along with his ego of course) or the likes of Bill Clinton and Al Gore taking on the Beastie Boys, these are some of the coolest cheats ever.

9.) Resident Evil – Unlocking a Rocket Launcher With Unlimited Ammo (PlayStation) 


Once players blaze through a game, there’s little reason to go back – unless they manage to unlock a special mode that gives them increased firepower. Resident Evil for the PlayStation provided such a treat, as devoted players who completed the game went back a second time with a rocket launcher with unlimited ammunition.

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8.) Sonic the Hedgehog Level Select

Back in the older days of gaming, some players didn’t need a level select to succeed. However, it was nice to have the option just in case. Sonic the Hedgehog came with one of the best available, allowing gamers to select any stage they wanted by pressing Up, Down, Left, Right and A on the title screen. The level select became a helpful feature in other games, particularly difficult titles like Ghouls ‘n Ghosts.

7.) Disney’s Aladdin Debug Menu 


The debug menu is easily one of the best cheats you can have in a video game, mainly because it lets you do, well, anything, from skipping through a level at high speed to playing with power-ups. Disney’s Aladdin has one of the best, and can be accessed by entering A, C, A, C, A, C, A, C, B, B, B and B on the options screen. David Perry, the game’s producer, will appear, ready to grant your debug wishes.

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6.) Adventure: The First Easter Egg 


The very first cheat, or Easter Egg in this case, was implemented in the Atari 2600 classic Adventure, where the developer’s initials are hidden deep inside the game. Sure, it’s not unlimited ammo, but this code would soon open the door to bigger and better cheats.

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5.) Castlevania: Symphony of the Night – New Game +

The “New Game” option is one we see in quite a few games these days, but the feature got its start in the 90s with Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Upon beating the game the first time around with Alucard, players could start a “New Game +” option a number of ways, with Richter Belmont (by going into the new game and entering RICHTER). There’s also the option to play with increased luck (X-XIV”Q under new game) or higher intelligence (X-XIV”). This added vast replay value to the game – like you really needed another reason to go back to this awesome classic.

4.) Doom: Unlock Everything 

Playing a first-person shooter is quite the experience, but sometimes you want to get the best weapons right away. Doom was one of the first games to provide this option at your fingertips, from activating “god mode” (iddqd in the text screen) to gaining access to all weapons and keys (idkfa), including the BFG and the chainsaw. Yep, it’s time to play.

3.) Super Mario Bros. – Infinite 1-ups Trick 

“Why don’t I have enough lives to finish this game?” Some gamers felt this was a valid complaint, especially with tougher games like Battletoads and Ghouls n’ Ghosts. However, some games provided saving graces, like the original Super Mario Bros. This Koopa shell-bouncing trick comes in handy for stockpiling lives, and as you can see above, the tradition continues today with new games like Super Mario 3D World. Woo-hoo!

2.) Metroid: Justin Bailey Cheat Code

The original Metroid continues to be one of the best titles out there – but who knew that it would only take one single name to change everything? By entering “Justin Bailey” in the password screen, we’re able to see this mighty space warrior for what she truly is – yep, “she.” Samus Aran was one of the first female characters in video games, and this code lets you see her in action without her helmet.

1.) The Konami Code (Contra, Gradius, etc.)


It dominated our top 100 codes of all time countdown, and the Konami Code continues its stranglehold on the cheat universe. The Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start code is one that’s known by older and younger generations, and it’s appeared in countless Konami games, as well as other releases. Plus, it even made its way into the public lexicon, as you can see from the snippet from the 2012 movie release, Wreck-It Ralph. Congrats, Konami, you cemented your place in history!

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