We all know that people cheat in games, be it that code for god mode or the old Konami favourite that normally gave you added lives (except on Parodius where it killed you… ) We’ve all been annoyed when someone can’t beat us fair and square on Call of Duty and buys a hack.
But what about when the coders cheat? That’s right, games makers do occasionally make their games impossible to beat. What can we do? Well not much really other than reach for the Action Replay cartridge.
But when does this happen I hear you ask?
Well my own favourite/worst example of this would be on International Superstar Soccer Deluxe on the old Super Nintendo. Though since then I also think that my little rule of thumb applies to all football games and no one I have ever mentioned my theory to has ever disagreed with me – even the hardest FIFA and PES fans. I played ISS Deluxe at University many many moons ago with a flat mate who happened to be a pretty good footballer in real life too. Anyway after months of slogging away on it we felt we were good enough to try the World Cup on the hardest difficulty.
I can’t remember who we played as but I think it was Germany. There were from memory a couple of sure fire ways to score on the last two difficulty settings but the one that sticks out the most was getting a winger to the bye-line and crossing and making sure your forward was first to the ball and aiming the header at the near post. The trouble was on level 5 we felt the game cheated. When you play on level one with someone like Brazil or Germany (or even England) you had a team of thoroughbreds who were fit and agile…. But come to level four or five then suddenly you’ve got a team full of asthmatic carthorses who can’t run for toffee. Plus your opponents are now all able to beat Usain Bolt over 100m and can hurdle better than Colin Jackson over your tackles. So on the VERY odd occasion you actually get passed the super athletic midfield and incredibly fast and agile defenders you then get to the next and most solid of brick walls – the goalkeeper. On level one these goalies couldn’t catch a cold let alone your shot from the edge of the box. But miraculously now they all turn in to the bastard son of Peter Parker and Stretch Armstrong. They have fly-like reactions and can leap from one side of the box to the other in the blink of an eye. Or be stood almost on the corner flag and STILL catch your shot aimed at what was a previously empty goal mouth. I do remember playing Sweden in the final and the only way we ever scored (on our tenth attempt!) was to have a goal kick which was then headed on from the centre circle by one of our centre forwards which then landed on the edge of the centre circle in Sweden’s half which then by some software glitch pea rolled all the way into the goal, passed a team of opponents who were all rooted to the spot (but did at least turn to watch the ball go passed them) until it eventually crossed the goal line and we won 1-0. That was the the only time we scored in the final on level 5 and I don’t think we ever tried again.
I also believe there are other under handed tricks that coders have employed. A good example is making the levels too big or complicated. An example of this is Turok 2 on N64.
Lovely graphics, some really good ideas for weapons. But levels that were FAR too big. I’m no slouch when it comes to gaming (I’m not a professional player though either….) but without cheating I could only complete the first two levels. After that they were so big and laborious to complete I’ve never met anyone who finished it without cheating. I cheated my way to the final boss and even with god mode activated it still took me 20 minutes to polish the beastie off.
Mario Kart doesn’t quite qualify as cheating but it must surely come close. I have played the original Super Nintendo and Wii versions and I like it on the easy setting – what I don’t like is when the going gets a bit tougher and quite honestly the AI turns into a complete swine. I didn’t win many races on the medium setting. This was because my driving skill (which is pretty good but not world class) would get me to the front by the end of the first lap then it was time for the AI to get its own back. As soon as you get to the front you become the target for all the other players so every turtle shell/ink ghostly/lightning bolt comes your way. So you can’t really call Mario Kart a racing game more a driving action game. This is because skill wont help you win. Driving gets you to the front but wont win you the game. Good use of your weapons will win it for you – normally hitting the leader on the last bend with a red shell.
I also read a good article along a similar theme and it mentioned one Kings Quest V where if you miss a random puzzle at the beginning regarding saving a rat from a cat then it is impossible for you to finish the game. Now that’s cheating.