on Feb 12, 2007
Here is something that I’ve noticed:
The availability of useful cheat codes in any given game is inversely proportional to the likelihood that you will need them.
A game which has clear objectives and allows the player to explore the gameworld freely and save anytime they like is going to have lots of cheat codes. These cheat codes range from bestowing a preposterously large arsenal to the simple yet effective “god mode” – the videogame trump card which renders all enemy arguments mute.
A game that gives you vague objectives that can only be fully understood by making repeated attempts, which makes the player race against the clock, or which forbids saving except at select intervals, this will have no cheats to aid the player in overcoming or bypassing the inherent frustrations of the game. If there are cheat codes, they will be for things like giving your character a humorously large head, or making them wear a funny hat.
I don’t know why this is. The more DIAS the game is, the more likely that there will be no cheat codes. Console games are by far the worst offenders, although guilty parties can be found on both sides of the PC / Console divide. I’ve played many games which were brutal, unforgiving, and which offered the frustrated player no recourse but to surrender hours of their time playing the same scene over and over again until they meet with the game’s exacting standards. They can either slave away in this state of non-entertainment, or they can give up and leave the remainder of the game unplayed.
The ESRB is so eager to let me know if the game will torment my ears with bad words, or if my eyes might be scalded by the sight of boobies, but they never tell me what I really want to know: They never warn me that I need to pick up an extra controller or mouse while I’m buying the game, to replace the one I’m inevitably going to smash.
Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.