Some of us might prefer not to admit it, but we’ve all used a cheat code at some point in our gaming careers. Whether it’s been to unlock everything for a casual session, to get our hands on stronger weapons or better vehicles, or just to clear our wanted level, there aren’t too many situations we haven’t been able to resolve with a cheeky cheat or two. Then there’s the games we’ve played that we thought could be better with something changed, and the developers who put together a mod or a ROM Hack to make that exact change; we love those people, because it’s through their work that we’ve had experiences we simply wouldn’t have had otherwise.
In this latest Multiplayer entry, members of the Doublejump team sat down to take a look at those cheats, mods and ROM Hacks that have made their gaming experiences better over the years. Enjoy!
Abir: Counter-Strike: Source’s Gun Game mode
Gun Game was the right mode, at the right time, for the right game. While Xbox players were battling in Halo 3 and PlayStation fans were taking each other out in SOCOM, us PC gamers were bunny-hopping with knives in Counter-Strike (1.6) and Counter-Strike: Source. With its vibrant mod scene, CSS was a haven for hours of shenanigans, and Gun Game was a pearl among rocks. It was fast, frantic, and a great way to learn weapons that you might normally skip during regular matches.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with GG, the mode sees all players spawn with the same starting weapon – usually a handgun – and earn more powerful weapons by fragging each other in a race to score the final kill using the venerable knife. Yes, it was stressful, but it was also a hell of a lot of fun! Other developers have aped Gun Game’s basic premise for their own titles, yet none have captured the classic mode’s frenetic atmosphere.
“You just had to be there, man.”
Ben: Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock’s cheats menu
Guitar Hero is the ultimate party game and I’m happy to accept any challenges to fight on that one. It’s unique, it’s interesting, and anyone can get in at the ground floor and have a good time with it. The third entry in the series is a little more forgiving on timing than the first two, something diehards at the time said was “too casual”, but I think boosts its party credentials. It also had the best tracklist, with the budget from Guitar Hero 2’s success able to provide an absolutely classic lineup of songs.
The problem is that many of these songs are inaccessible or require slogs through annoying challenges to unlock… that may be fun in your own time, but we’ve got people round! From the unlock everything cheat, to the more fun Hyperspeed mode, to the beginner friendly No Fail mode (the one that’s an absolute requirement for Through the Fire and the Flames), Guitar Hero 3’s cheats menu is an absolute essential — Guitar Hero is fun on its own, but having easy access to the cheats menu makes it a party game you can fire up anytime, anywhere.
Callum: Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion – Sins of the Prophets
I didn’t grow up with Xbox, so I never really got the Halo fandom. Even after I’d watched Red Vs Blue, which I liked, I still didn’t get the Halo of it all. Then, earlier this year, I got Halo on PC, and now I kinda get it. I hadn’t seen enough of the universe yet, though, so I turned to one of my favourite strategy games — Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion.
It’s admittedly not the deepest strategy game out there, but Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion’s real draw isn’t the game itself — it’s the mods. If there’s a fandom, there’s a Sins mod; we’ve got Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate, Mass Effect, Halo and more. There’s even a Babylon 5 mod with 3D models for all the ships. This game and its mods offer the perfect avenue for living out Thrawn/Adama/Cole fantasies, but that doesn’t explain why Sins of the Prophets gets the spotlight.
After diving into the Halo universe, I found that one of the things I really liked about it was that humans were overwhelmingly the underdogs in it. As awesome as Reach is, it’s about fighting a losing battle, and Sins of the Prophets nails that imbalance, while actually being a fairly balanced game. Fighting as the humans involves flinging ships at the enemy in hopes that they’ll run out of ships before you do. Even fully upgraded, you’ll still be outgunned and outsized by the Covenant.
Eduard: Final Fantasy VII’s God Mode, No Random Encounters and 3X Speed “cheats”
Doublejump family, I have two horrible truths to confess: 1) I had never played the original Final Fantasy VII all the way through until this year and 2) I wouldn’t have done it without the cheats baked into the PS4 port.
Now, before you reach for tomatoes, let me explain myself a little bit here. A few years ago I decided that if I loved JRPGs as much as I tell everyone I do, I should probably delve deep into Final Fantasy and play through all the mainline games. As you may expect based on the fact that I never got to Final Fantasy VII, I gave up on that ambition somewhere in the middle of playing Final Fantasy II — I just couldn’t bear the grind and the random encounters anymore.
However, despite this negative experience and because I wanted to play the original before the Remake came out, I reluctantly dove into Final Fantasy VII and was thrilled to find that the PS4 port had 3X Speed, God Mode and No Random Encounters cheats baked in. At first, I decided that I wanted a “pure” experience, but when fun gave way to frustration (like it did with Final Fantasy II), I popped those suckers on… and never looked back.
I ended up having an absolute blast powering through the game and I genuinely believe that I wouldn’t have finished Final Fantasy VII (and even gotten the Platinum trophy) if it wasn’t for the cheats. I love those cheats so much that I want to see them become standard features in every JRPG. Square, Atlus, SEGA, whoever… just give us the option!
George: Pokémon Diamond and Pearl’s Void
To understand why Pokémon Diamond and Pearl’s famous void glitch (also known as “tweaking”) is so special, it’s important to note its purpose: the DS-era Pokémon games often allowed players to download a special item online that, when taken to the correct non-player character, would open up secret areas where mythical Pokémon like Arceus and Darkrai reside. Of course, these items were only available for a limited time, not available everywhere, or in some cases, never distributed at all; for many, getting to these areas legitimately ten years after the game launched was impossible… but the illegitimate way is arguably much more fun.
These areas were coded into the game at launch, but they were only ever designed to be accessible if the player had the correct item and went to the correct place. As such, if a player was able to warp into the area in question, then its rewards would be theirs for the taking; this might sound like a classic walk-through-walls cheat — truth be told, that’s exactly what it is — but the cheat itself involves using the game’s own system against it. Moving through certain tiles in Jubilife City using the bicycle set to the highest possible speed causes the game to load the graphics improperly, which enables the player to walk through walls. Of course, given that the glitch is known as the “void glitch”, it goes without saying that the result sees you eventually walking through pure darkness; several coders and investigators far more knowledgeable than I ever could be were able to make their way through the darkness and create a map to areas like New Moon Island and the Flower Paradise. This glitch isn’t without its consequences — you can ruin and/or lose your save file, or corrupt your game, but it ends up being worth it to run around with Darkrai, Shaymin and other unobtainable Pokémon.
I know that the expression “it’s the journey, not the destination” is overplayed these days, but in this case it really does apply: the Pokémon themselves aren’t all that impressive in reality, but the method to reach them is incredibly satisfying, representing a perfect balance between risk and reward. Players must glitch their whole game and stumble through literal darkness for literal hours, following a dodgy map that requires precise movements and counting in order to reap the rewards… the Pokémon themselves are more of a badge of honour at this point, and that’s why I love the old school void glitch.
Jake: Pokémon’s early duplication glitches
There was a time when I was a little Pokémon Master. No matter where I went, I’d be wearing my Ash Ketchum cap and carrying my Game Boy Pocket/Colour/Advance in a bag along with a battery pack, spare batteries as a backup, the light/magnifying glass extension, a Link Cable (ugh), and a couple of other games in case I got bored of Pokémon. After getting extremely lucky on a family trip and meeting someone who had both Mew and Celebi, my obsession paid off; I was the first person in my year level, and possibly even my whole school, who had a full Pokédex on Pokémon Silver. That wasn’t an easy endeavour given that we didn’t have social media or even online trading to seek out the last couple of Pokémon we needed, so I decided that I’d use my Pokédex to help my friends with theirs.
I’ve never been a big cheat, glitch or hack user in general — not due to some kind of moral objection, just because I never really felt the desire to — but helping friends out with their Pokédexes was the exception. I’d use the Pokémon duplication glitch to make copies of my Pokémon that I’d trade to my friends for a Pidgey or a Rattata, and go about my day. I’d also used the famous Old Man glitch to ensure that I had a healthy stock of Rare Candies and other items on Red and Blue, which left my chosen battle team (Arcanine, Gengar, Alakazam, Gyarados, Dragonite and Raichu; my six favourite Pokémon) all at level 100 with the best stats I could get.
In hindsight, I really should have tried to make a few bucks off it given that nobody else wanted to even attempt the glitches…
John: Turning Fallout: New Vegas into Stalker
The only time I really kit a game out with mods is when I revisit Fallout games. I don’t bother with texture packs or anything else shiny, just a recipe of small mechanical tweaks. A dash more difficulty there, a pinch more damage there, and BLAM: Fallout is now a good-enough survival sim.
First up is a “Realistic Damage” mod that makes everything very, very squishy. Get hurt in any way and you’ll probably be injured and need a doctor to fix your broken everything. Because Fallout enemies usually ragdoll into bloody chunks on death and combat is so condensed, encounters usually feel much better, too. Every battle is a sudden, exhilarating fight for your life. It also means you speed through the game, which is a plus.
To really sell the survival experience, I also cobble together my own Hardcore Mode. Your weapons and armour break constantly and the loot that enemies drop is broken, too. You can barely carry anything and every item has a more “realistic” weight (which usually means it’s heavier). Your guns need to be reloaded manually and will also jam all the time, no matter what – better durability only makes them jam slightly less. Lighting gets an overhaul so now night-time is dark, and the game’s AI was always dumb and blind so it fits right in.
On top of all that, you start with 14 S.P.E.C.I.A.L. points instead of 40, you earn five less skill points per level, and you gain experience so slowly you’ll barely ever level-up anyway. Every little bit of actual ability you gain feels crucial. Just upgrading your lockpicking from Very Easy to Easy is a major achievement. You have no choice but to be a very weak idiot in a very dangerous and dimly lit world. Sure, this duct-taped bundle of mods reliably crashes my laptop every couple of hours and the lighting mods usually break, but it’s worth it.
Kristian: DahrkDaiz’ Mario Adventure
The big daddy of classic ROM hacks, hacker DahrkDaiz first released Mario Adventure way back in 2004. The hack is a total conversion of the NES classic Super Mario Bros. 3, already one of the most enjoyable 8-bit platformers of all time, and it takes things to a new level. Mario Adventure extends on the classic SMB3 formula with a whole new plot, additional enemies to overcome, and even the ability to switch between two items on the fly, so you can adapt to the ever-changing environment.
One of Mario Adventure’s most unique features is that each level will load a completely random time of day and unique weather, including day and night cycles or even snowy conditions, making surfaces much more slippery. The Toad House also changes to let you open an item box for 300 coins, encouraging you to explore the level and collect as many coins as possible.
With a modified soundtrack and eight all-new worlds, Mario Adventure is, all things considered, a great example of what makes the ROM hacking scene so interesting. The game itself is a big challenge but it’s great for anyone who loves retro platformer action, and it’s one of the best ROM hacks ever made. It truly captures what makes the classic Mario games stand the test of time.
Lucas Calder: XCOM: Enemy Unknown’s Long War mod
This month’s Multiplayer touches on a subject close to my heart. I love mods, and as a predominantly PC-based gamer they feature heavily in a lot of my favourite games to enhance the experience. My favourite mod, hands down, has got to be Long War for the 2012 reboot of the XCOM franchise. It’s a mod that was so good, XCOM: Enemy Unknown’s lead designer, Jake Solomon, said that his game is “basically a 20-hour tutorial for Long War, and that’s okay.” While admittedly it does turn the game into a much longer experience — worthy of the theme of an elite, critically underfunded, multinational force standing against an alien invasion — the depth makes it all worth it.
Suddenly your frontline team of hardened veterans needs rest, otherwise they spend weeks in the medbay recovering from wounds and you spiral into losing rookies by the handful. You unlock more paths to weapons and armour, meaning that you never have the same experience twice (unless you’re some kind of inhuman robot who can force the RNG to bend to their will!). It’s got a vastly expanded roster of soldier classes so you can forge your force to suit a preferred playstyle and try out new strategies. Best of all, because you can use Notepad++ to read most of the files used to create the mod, code-savvy gamers can tweak the mod and create the very best experience for them. If there’s one complaint I have about Long War, it would be that the interceptor air game is still terrible, but XCOM‘s focus was always on the troops on the ground anyway.
That said, I can’t get enough of the game. I must have lost a hundred campaigns for the two I’ve completed successfully, but even in a spiral of being overrun, the mod adds so much to the base game that you persevere on the off chance you can bring it back from the brink. You almost never can, but the gameplay is so engaging you hold onto the hope you might, even when you’ve lost your entire alpha squad to a single cyberdisc (what are you talking about? I’m not bitter…).
Lucas Gogos: Vampire: The Masquerade — Bloodlines’ The Final Nights mod
The Final Nights is a mod dedicated to redesigning and improving Vampire: The Masquerade — Bloodlines’ outdated and janky design. It also fixes a lot of the end-game content, which was originally so broken it was essentially unplayable. It also changes the races and classes available to you at the beginning of the game, allowing you to use a more diverse group of characters (and abilities) and giving you a lot more agency when it comes to character design. The unfortunate side-effect there is that the races and classes available in the base game are replaced, rather than being supplemented, so you’ll lose the ability to play as a couple of the original clans. Aside from that, though, the story remains largely unchanged (aside from fixing some of the story events and mechanics that were broken in the original release).
The mod adds a whole new mechanic to the game that turns it into the most accurate facsimile of actually being a vampire: a Hunger meter. Using any ability throughout the game consumes some of your blood points, thus forcing you to keep yourself from getting too hungry by feeding more regularly than you’d have to in the base game — if your character gets too hungry, they’ll go utterly berserk and you’ll have to deal with the consequences. It makes the whole experience that little bit more challenging, and that’s always welcome.
Of course, The Final Nights requires a fair bit of fiddling to actually get running, but it’s absolutely worth it: it improves upon Vampire: The Masquerade — Bloodlines’ base experience but also makes its end-game content entirely playable. This is the definitive way to play a game that was already well ahead of its time.
Luke: “Ultra Shortcuts” in Mario Kart Wii
Mario Kart Wii will forever be one of those games that defines a generation. It is highly likely that anyone who still has a Wii today will have a copy lying around somewhere (complete with a Wii-Wheel, remember those?) and, given enough of a reason, will reconnect it to their TV for another round of nostalgic goodness.
One reason for its continued longevity includes the fact that the Mario Kart Wii online community is still discovering new short-cuts to get completely unreal times on some of these courses. What is unique about these shortcuts is that they aren’t shortcuts in the traditional sense, but they allow players to skip more than half of the course, much to the annoyance of everyone else you are playing against.
Whilst these glitches are very difficult to pull off correctly, there is a real sense of satisfaction if you manage it. Ultra Shortcuts are not like the “old-school” cheats where you enter a button and get an unlimited amount of Mushrooms; using them requires some knowledge about the game’s engine and how the glitches are supposed to work, and a whole lot of good old-fashioned skill. However, the chance to discover one of these shortcuts has kept the online screen alive well past the Nintendo Wi-Fi shutdown of 2014.
Through fan made servers, players are still able to race online and set new records with these glitches. This combination of glitches to discover and an online scene that Nintendo believes is as good as finished gives the players a significant amount of freedom when playing, which ultimately contributes to players continuing to race on such an old console. These glitches and online servers don’t make Mario Kart Wii the most accessible game to play online anymore, but they still provide an outlet for die-hard fans to enjoy the game far long after the last lap.
Matt: GoldenEye 007’s DK Mode
If GoldenEye 007 isn’t the best game ever released on the wildly successful Nintendo 64, then it’s pretty damn close. For each of the James Bond tie-in’s memorable moments, however, there was an equally-memorable cheat that added to its addictive, ahead-of-its-time multiplayer offering in hilarious ways — none more hilarious than the DK Mode.
DK Mode isn’t technically a cheat, since you could unlock it legitimately by completing the Control mission in ten minutes or less on the Secret Agent difficulty setting, but those without that level of patience (or skill) could unlock it by putting in a button combination on the main menu screen, so we can also call it a cheat. It didn’t add much to the overall gameplay other than larger character models to shoot at, DK Mode have players an iconic look: comically-large heads and arms in the style of the great Donkey Kong, for whom the mode is named after.
DK Mode was not only one of the first cheat codes I used and the source of plenty of fond memories from all those years ago, but it’s also one of the first memories I have of a game developer poking fun at other franchises. I can still remember my surprise at seeing Donkey Kong being referenced in another game (that wasn’t Super Smash Bros.). Because of that, DK Mode also doubles as my favourite Easter Eggs of all time.
GoldenEye 007 features some silly cheats, and some useful ones as well, but DK Mode really epitomises the silly and altogether-memorable fun that GoldenEye 007 brought — and still brings — to the table.
Max: Marvin Seo’s collection of Darkest Dungeon mods
Darkest Dungeon is a game very dear to my heart, one that fostered in me a love for brutal turn-based strategy where the stakes are high and eldritch abominations are hot on your heels. At its core, Darkest Dungeon is a game about making the best of bad situations (which are plentiful and uniquely otherworldly), and it revolves around a cast of oddball “Heroes” that make up its class system.
Each hero is fine-tuned to perform a number of roles: they might heal your allies; weaken your enemies; commune with the unspeakable evils of the great beyond; or just get everyone very, very drunk. As with any strategy-based game, the real joy of strategically assembling a party of ill-begotten misfits is found in knowing just how that composition works together to achieve your goals… and that’s where the Steam Workshop comes in.
The Darkest Dungeon community has used the Steam Workshop to honour the game with some truly marvellous creations, including new “hero” classes to toy with and send to their deaths. My favourite entries on the Steam Workshop are the ones that come from community figurehead Martin Seo, whose unique blend of the game’s original art style and his own exceedingly-well thought-out “hero” backstories and skill mechanics have given rise to class mods that fit into the base game perfectly. Seo’s modpacks fit in so well with the base game’s dark, gloomy aesthetic — and his new characters so perfectly complement the existing “heroes” — that playing through Darkest Dungeon again with his mods applied felt like I was playing an official expansion, if not a whole new game.
What’s best about Seo’s new characters, however, is the fact that although they have a number of novel skills and mechanics, there’s nothing that’s blatantly overpowered or completely useless. Of course, some of them do “err” on the side of being very strong, but that’s really only when you pair them with specific classes, and that’s to be expected. Seo’s modpacks are a truly fantastic addition to the base game, and I strongly recommend them to anyone who’s played Darkest Dungeon or thinks they might be keen to give it a go; Seo’s additions combine with the original game to create an experience you won’t be putting down in a hurry.
Ruby: The Rosebud cheat from The Sims
The Sims is the ultimate life simulation game, setting out to faithfully recreate the human experience (occasional alien abduction or haunted clown painting aside). That includes all the heady highs of falling in love, starting a family and forging a career, as well as the dreary lows of paying bills and having ongoing expenses like food. This means that, unless you’re an 18th Century aristocrat eagerly calling out to your butler “why look, Jeeves, I’m experiencing what it is like to pay taxes, how quaint!”, you’re gonna want some cold hard cash in order to start living out your lottery-winner fantasy as soon as possible. Opening the Cheats Bar and typing in Rosebud nets you a cool thousand Simoleons — or you can whack in Motherlode for 50k if you have visions of your Sim diving into a pool of cash like Scrooge McDuck.
I always like to use Rosebud at the start of a new Sim’s journey, just to give them an edge up on the virtual competition. Better gear gets your Sim’s skills levelled up faster, and without needing to work for a living they can spend all afternoon pumping iron on the gym set before a riveting five hour game of chess against themselves to increase their Logic. Once they’re suitably maxed out, I set them on a career path like Politics and watch them climb the ladder as fast as their tasteful pantsuit can handle.
Of course, when using money cheats there’s a risk of sapping all the challenge right out of the game. Once your Sim has access to unlimited funds, they don’t really need to work. They could buy another painting for their mansion, or upgrade the shower, but they don’t have to. Even if their performance at work slumps, with a golden ticket at your fingertips, they never have to go without. Their life just becomes a meaningless cycle of days, barely going through the motions, until one day the ladder disappears while they’re in their Olympic-sized swimming pool and they’re never seen again… Huh, I guess it really is the ultimate life simulation game.
Tom: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City’s “Spawn Tank” cheat
Grand Theft Auto’s and cheats are a match made in gaming heaven — which, in this case, is a sprawling metropolitan world designed to facilitate your every anarchistic and criminal fantasy. A more grounded option than the lunacy provided by the Saints Row franchise, GTA: Vice City brought vibrant chaos to the previously dreary GTA entries with Hawaiian shirts and giant purple dildos to beat down your enemies.
Then there was the infamous “Spawn Rhino Tank” cheat on Xbox which, once upon a time, I had memorised as dearly as my home phone and parents’ mobile numbers (B, B, LEFT TRIGGER, B, B, B, LEFT TRIGGER, WHITE, RIGHT TRIGGER, Y, B, Y). Going on an unstoppable rampage, annihilating the denizens and police of Vice City until the army themselves came to put you down was one of the most ridiculous and cathartic moments of gaming joy I have ever experienced. Even actually spawning the tank was hilarious, given that it would usually drop in the most inconvenient place possible and/or crush a bunch of non-player characters’ vehicles when it did.
Just thinking about this cheat brings memories of hand-written cheatsheets, dial-up internet and even the near-extinct gaming magazines. One always had to prepare for raucous cheat-enabled rampages with a manual save, since activating god modes in the older Grand Theft Auto titles would nullify any and all achievements, but I don’t think I’ve ever had as much silly fun in an open-world game as I did with Vice City and its cheats. Outside of the Rhino Tank, I also stacked Road Rage (which made NPC vehicles attack you), Proximity Explosion (which made any cars too close to you explode), and Flying Vehicles (which does what it says on the tin); that combination had me flying around above the streets of Vice City as sedans, trucks and motorbikes careened up and down towards me and exploded violently, all while I rained artillery fire down on the environment below to create the ultimate fireworks display.
While I greatly enjoyed Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Vice City will always be my favourite entry in the series for its stylised violence — in large part due to these cheats. It’s because of this that I could never enjoy GTA IV, which saw Rockstar Games go back to the dreary cityscapes and sucked all the fun out of it. Simpler times lead to simpler fun.
Talking about cheats makes some of us feel omnipotent, it makes some of us feel nostalgic, and it makes some of us feel dirty. No matter how it makes you feel, jump into the comments section below, our Discord server or our Facebook group and let us know what your favourite cheats have been!