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Beating the system: Ten amazing game cheats of yesteryear

When invulnerability was only a Left, Right, Up, Down, A, B away

It wasn't so long ago that cheats were big business, with premium rate phone numbers, websites and magazines all dedicated to the fine art of secrets.

These days the cheat code is mostly extinct, finding itself replaced by 'time saving' unlock keys purchased with real money. To celebrate the way things were, we look back through the best, quirkiest, and funniest cheats of all time. Want to add your own? Stick it in the comments!

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SUPER MARIO BROS. - SECRET WARP ZONE [1985, NES]

As the initial entry in the Super Mario Bros series, this was many gamers' first taste of Mario and Luigi's platforming adventures. Progressing through levels was tough, but early on in the game savvy players could reach a hidden area that allowed them to skip forward to distant worlds.

By using the rising platform at the end of world 1-2 it was possible to jump onto the brickwork that formed the top of the level itself, then walk past the regular exit to enter a secret warp zone with pipes leading to worlds 2, 3 and 4. These shortcuts could be used to skip up to 10 levels, allowing less skilled players or those in a hurry to experience later sections of the game.

Another handy cheat in the game allowed players to restart from the beginning of the world in which they died, instead of going right back to 1-1 again. By simply holding down the A button before pressing start for a new game, you were able to continue from where you left off.


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CONTRA - THE KONAMI CODE [1988, NES]

Contra is remembered as one of the toughest games of its era. Endless waves of enemies and one-hit kills meant it was almost impossible to beat under standard conditions. Thankfully help was at hand in the form of the most famous cheat in gaming - the Konami Code.

Although this code first appeared in Gradius several years earlier, it was Contra that popularised and brought it to the attention of the gaming world at large. By entering Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A on the title screen before starting, each player would be granted a whopping 30 lives for every credit, giving them a sporting chance of actually reaching the end of the game.

Since then the code has entered gaming lexicon, appearing in hundreds of games made by both Konami and other developers. It has also entered popular culture, triggering Easter eggs on websites and appearing in comics, cartoons and films, most recently in Disney's video game-themed movie Wreck-It Ralph.


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MORTAL KOMBAT - BLOOD CODE [1993, SEGA GENESIS]

When Mortal Kombat arrived on the arcade scene it courted controversy with its realistic digitised graphics and high levels of violence and gore. After it was ported over to home consoles many players were disappointed to find the action had been considerably toned down, with grey 'sweat' replacing the infamous lashings of blood and most fatalities swapped for less impressive 'finishing moves'.

For Sega Genesis owners, however, there was still a way to access the arcade experience they craved. When the Code of Honour screen appeared they could enter A B A C A B B on pad one to hear Scorpion shout "Get over here!", after which the blood was reinstated and fatalities returned in all their uncensored spine-ripping glory.

The cheat code itself is a reference to the album 'Abacab' by Genesis, reportedly one of game programmer Ed Boon's favourite bands, who shared their name with the North America version of Sega's console.

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