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Games Cheating Gamers: When Retro Games Fight Back

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  • Games Cheating Gamers: When Retro Games Fight Back

    By Ross Phillips

    It's likely as a retro gaming fan you have at some point played a Konami game. If, like me, you were also a fan of using cheats, then there is/was a famous cheat common to a wide range of Konami games - one which has since become famous for its long-running use.

    But what about those rare occasions when the developers turned the tables upside down and also cheated? Konami ironically was quite famous for doing this in one of their series - namely Parodius. As it was a parody of Gradius, Konami also chose to parody their "standard" cheat code. The result of this meant that entering the Konami Code on Parodius killed you - a trick which also made its way into Tomb Raider II, with the prequel's cheat code turning Lara Croft into a human detonator.

    So what about the times when the developers really cheated you? What about when the developers make a game impossible to beat? Or so difficult you want to throw the controller against the nearest wall (something I did more than once playing Street Fighter II Turbo...)? It's time to take a nostalgic look back at all those games which were frustratingly designed to beat you, in the most unfair ways.

    Super Mario Kart (Series)

    First up Super Mario Kart. On the easy settings - 50cc - it's a walk in the park. You can be in last place half way round the final lap and still win comfortably. But when you progress to the upper ranks of 150cc you can forget about winning fair & square. I was recently playing Mario Kart Wii and virtually every race I would be in the lead from the first corner to half way around the last lap. That's when the Wiimote's life span was in danger of becoming much, much shorter. Pick your poison - red shells, lightning strikes, ink to the face or bananas. The assaults come thick and fast. So much so that you spend a relaxing couple of minutes watching the whole pack cruise past they take turns making your life miserable. Don't believe us? Take a quick peek below at decisive evidence of Nintendo's trickery below.

    Countless Football Games

    Another good example of behind the scenes cheating is within the football genre - soccer to those on the western side of the pond. My experience comes from ISS Deluxe on the SNES and the various other FIFA games running up to World Cup 98. Every football game I ever played has three real levels of difficulty regardless of what the developers may claim. Level one is the easiest - seasoned players will beat this setting on their first attempt. Medium difficulty will take a week or so to beat. This is because it will take this time to perfect the methods for scoring and timing your challenges. On ISS Deluxe you could always score by getting a winger to the bye-line and then getting your attacker to aim for the near post.

    The hardest setting is where the profanities kick in and your controller ends up offside behind the TV. For example, when you play against Georgia on te easiest setting it's like playing against a Sunday pub team who's squad are all over the age of 40, unfit and smoke 60 a day. But on the hardest setting they're transformed into eleven of the finest athletes on the planet, all easily capable of beating Usain Bolt down the 100m track and jumping higher than Javier Sotomayor - the latter being useful for evading over your perfectly timed sliding tackles.

    Should you keep the ball for more than 10 seconds and actually get into a shooting position you then face the game's piece de resistance - the goalkeeper. Even on "hard" your own goalie has all the awareness of a vegetative worm and the agility of a brick. Your opponent's goal keeper is another matter. Blessed with the reactions of a fly on his third redbull, the agility of Spiderman and arms like Stretch Armstrong, he cannot be beaten.

    This has led to some laughable situations. Goalies on the edge of the box, sideways pass to fellow striker, full power shot and he still makes the save. Even getting the goalie to follow you all the way to the corner flag doesn't give you enough time to pass, shoot and score a goal.

    Playing in the World Cup final on ISS Deluxe my flatmate and I took control of Germany together as we took on Sweden. After about the tenth rematch we finally won. I'd love to say we created a sublime 28 pass move from our defense to the edge of their box and we lashed in a net-buster.

    But I can't.

    We scored from a glitched up goal kick. I headed the ball on from inside their half of the center circle which then proceeded to pea-roll all the way in with the Swedish players (goalie included) rooted to the spot. Cue some desperate - mostly illegal - defending for the last couple of minutes. But my complaint still stands. It wasn't skill that won in the end, it was a programming glitch. And personally I'd rather win with skill.

    Adventuring On A Bad Note

    But the worst example I've ever heard of is in King's Quest V. Somewhere early in the game I believe you're in some kind of hostelry. At some point a cat and a rat appear. Evidently if you don't save the rat from the cat (small beans surely when you're saving the world!) you can't finish the game. And worse than putting in a game ending puzzle so early on is the fact you don't find out you've missed something for quite some time. If this had happened to me, personally I'd have flown to Sierra's HQ and lamped the developer who came up with this.

    Unfortunately this wasn't the only game breaking clause they threw into the mix, the Police Quest series is filled with a notorious amount of Game Over screens - many of which for questionable reasons. Forget to put on ear protection before using the shooting range? Game Over. Walk outside of the Police Station into the street? Game Over. Stand in the wrong position during a raid? Game Over. While many of these deaths in-game could be attributed to a lack of common sense, many of the requirements are things you would never consider doing in a video game, never mind think it was possible to do so several decades ago.

    These are just but a few of our frustrations with the various cheats and unfair moments in retro gaming? Have we missed some infuriating games? Be sure to let us know below.
    Last edited by dlevere; 11-17-2014, 03:09:53 PM.
    The Hackmaster

  • #2
    I've been a fan of football games all my childhood, and now, I prefer watching football matches because I like the fact that there are real people there. Also, I started placing bets recently, and with some help from, it's not that hard to place winning bets and make money that way.


    • #3
      UNWINNABLE fights in RPG's are the worst when there is no way to progress other that eventually dying. It feels like such a dirty cheat vs the player. Like, I get it if its necessary for a story, but if that's the case the battle should just end automatically after 3 turns or something...

      Flash back to "Skies of Arcadia" on the Sega Dreamcast (and later Gamecube). There is a certain fight that is impossible to win. However, when I was about to die, I reset the game and tried again because I didn't realize it was unwinnable. I tried every combination of buffs and abilities, ended up finding the perfect cycle of regeneration, and found out how to use an ultimate party skill. I was finally able to stand up vs the boss indefinitely but the fight wouldn't end. After an epic 2 hour battle, I eventually let myself die in frustration... and then game continued. I was pissed!