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The most famous video game cheat codes of all time

With cheat codes becoming ancient gaming history, it’s fun to look back on all the various Up, Up, Down, Downs of the past. Made famous by series such as Grand Theft Auto and The Sims, every game before the breakthrough of mass-multiplayer involved a few ways to make the single-player experience more exciting. From infinite ammo to unlimited money, here’s a look back at some of the cheat codes that made the early years of gaming easier.

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The Konami Code

The Konami Code | Gaming Historian

If you’re older than 30, you almost certainly think of the Konami Code before anything else when you hear “cheat code.” Introduced on the Nintendo Entertainment System, Konami implemented the code across several of its games, making them easier to complete. Given the ruthless nature of titles like Contra and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time, it was more than welcome, though not every game actually gave players an advantage by entering it.

In its most famous form, the Konami Code was Up-Up-Down-Down-Left-Right-Left-Right-B-A — a series of buttons that many kids had burned into their memory. Without the code to give you 30 extra lives in Contra, beating the game was all but impossible – and it still wasn’t a cakewalk with the code. The code has continued to be used in more recent Konami games but is typically included as an Easter egg rather than a legitimate strategy.

Rosebud in The Sims

The Sims 4 Money Cheats!

As Charles Foster Kane drew his last breath in Citizen Kane, he said his famous last word: Rosebud. Perhaps as a nod to the character’s extravagant wealth, The Sims included the cheat code as a way to quickly earn enough money to build a mansion, as well as anything else you might want. Entering cheat mode by pressing Ctrl+Shift+C and typing Rosebud into the game will result in your character receiving an additional 1,000 Simoleons, and you can continue to enter the code to watch your wealth rise rapidly.

Perhaps it would have made more sense for the cheat to spawn a sled or set your house on fire, but Rosebud turns The Sims from a sort of survival game into an architectural experiment. With enough resources, you can build basically anything, and it can feel quite limiting to go back to the “real” game after you’re done messing around. As you can see in the video above, later entries in the series have also paid homage to it. You can also type Motherlode in The Sims 4 to earn 50,000 instant Simoleons.

DK Mode in Goldeneye 007

007: Goldeneye - DK Mode - Gameplay

This cheat is so strongly associated with Goldeneye 007 in our minds that we see it whenever someone mentions the game. As the name would suggest, DK Mode increases the size of all characters’ heads and arms, making them look like Donkey Kong. In addition to looking hilarious, the cheat also gives you a much bigger target when you’re trying to land headshots on the game’s many enemies.

There is a very long code that can be used to prematurely unlock DK mode in Goldeneye that includes pressing the following button combinations, L and R + Up, C-Right, R + Left, R + Up, Up, R + Right, Up, L and R + C-Down, L and R + Down, L, and R + C-Left — but if that’s too much button pressing for you, it’s also available by beating the game’s Runway mission on Agent difficulty. As this is one of the first missions you’ll play in the game, the DK Code can easily be unlocked within an hour or so of starting.

Blood code in Mortal Kombat

Mortal Kombat All Fatalities & CENSORED Fatalities Genesis

For a game that prided itself on gore and violence, the original Mortal Kombat didn’t exactly make it easy to see blood. On the Super Nintendo, blood was removed, but the Genesis version could access blood by entering the code A-B-A-C-A-B-B. From there, all the blood you could ever hope to see would be available, so you could really rub your wins into your opponents’ faces.

The original Mortal Kombat is the only version of the game that offered this weird restriction and workaround. Even the Super Nintendo edition of Mortal Kombat II included blood by default, but there’s something a little naughty about unlocking it via a code on the older game. Now, of course, the games are so ridiculously violent that only including blood seems censorship, but back then, the game was shocking enough to expedite the founding of the ESRB.

Even the series’ most recent installment, Mortal Kombat 11, has a series of secret fatality codes that can be unlocked via The Krypt.

Invincibility in Grand Theft Auto V

GTA V PS4 Invincibility cheat code Gameplay

Cheats aren’t as common in today’s games are they were in the past. However, one title that still has plenty of them is Grand Theft Auto V. The open-world action game lets you cause a ton of mayhem, but killing civilians and cops will eventually get a huge response team chasing you down for an arrest or a kill. To avoid this, enter the invincibility code. With an Xbox One controller, it is Right-A-Right-Left-Left-Right-RB-Right-Left-A-Y.

You can use this cheat code in five-minute intervals, but you can re-enter it continuously to ensure that you’re invincible for your entire perilous trek. After all, letting your guard down for even a matter of seconds exposes you mortal threats you can easily avoid. Other codes let you jump higher, run faster, and even spawn an attack helicopter, so you’ll always be one step ahead of your enemies.

Zelda as the name in The Legend of Zelda

The Legend of Zelda Second Quest - Level 1 (RG116)

The Legend of Zelda is a game that you will undoubtedly spend hours playing, but you can also bypass big chunks of your voyage if you want to. When entering a name as the game’s name registration page, choose Zelda to begin the game at the second quest rather than the first. Sure, this will make things a little bit confusing, seeing as your goal is to rescue someone else also named Zelda, but that’s a small price to pay for skipping half of the game.

Cheat codes exist in most other Legend of Zelda games, but they represent distinct capabilities. Entering the name in Link’s Awakening changes the music on the screen, for instance, but you’ll still have to play through the rest of the game as you normally would.

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Gabe Gurwin
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Gabe Gurwin has been playing games since 1997, beginning with the N64 and the Super Nintendo. He began his journalism career…
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