Cheating in Videogames – Where is the Line Drawn? – Game Sack


(Game Sack Theme) – Hello and welcome to Game Sack. I thought I’d do a
different episode this time and talk about cheating in video games. So what is cheating? Using an invincibility
code is certainly cheating, but what about using a turbo controller with rapid fire? Or how about playing a game
on an easier difficulty level? Can you say you beat the game if you used any of these methods? Moreover, is cheating fundamentally wrong? The answer is, I’m afraid, it depends. (rock remix of “Guile’s Theme”) The first kind of cheating
that I’d like to look at are built-in codes. These are codes that are
purposefully put into the game by the developer. One of the most famous
examples is the Konami Code. For example, in Contra, if
you press up up down down left right left right B A start, you get 30 lives per continue
in a single player game, making it much easier to finish. Obviously, it takes much
more skill to beat the game with the default three lives per continue. There are many similar codes in games, especially in the eight
bit era all the way up to the 32 bit era, and they
were often published in video game magazines. These days, websites like GameFAQs are good searchable places
to find codes for games. Some codes, like in Space Harrier, offered a continue feature and it was even printed in the manual. Is that cheating, since it
was officially sanctioned in the included manual,
even though it doesn’t have an actual continue screen? What’s interesting about this game is that it has two
different types of continue. The first one is in the
manual like I mentioned. The second one is
basically the Konami code. You have to press up up down
down left right left right down up down up before
the music stops playing on the game over screen. The code that was published in the manual will let you continue three times, but this one will let you
continue up to nine times. There are also codes for
invincibility in many games where you can just literally
walk through the game without getting damaged by an enemy, or codes to get all of
your weapons in shooters without having to work
to gather them all up. And of course, level selects, which let you start at any level you like instead of at the very beginning. Many codes like these were implemented to make the game easier
for testing and debugging and were often removed
before the game was released. Sometimes the developer
forgets to remove them or purposefully leaves them in there for the players to find. The Konami Code became so well known that some games will actually
give you undesirable results if you try to enter it, like Gradius 3, or Gradius, Gradiass, I don’t know. If you pause the game and enter the code, you immediately die. Heh heh, that’ll teach you, you cheater! Konami wasn’t without sympathy for struggling players, though, you just needed to substitute
the L and R buttons for the left and right
directions in the original code to fully power up your ship. So, is this all cheating? Well, yeah, of course it is. These codes aren’t meant to be
used during regular gameplay, however they are included
by the developer, so it’s not a malicious form
of cheating in my opinion. But, say you used one of these codes to make it all the way
through the entire game. Can you brag to the other
kids on the playground the next day that you beat the game? I’ll be honest, I’ve done
that when I was younger. Nobody questioned it, but I knew. It’s definitely a hollow victory. But for me, it was a way to
see further into the game. I like to see everything
that the game offers. But I’ve never used a code on a game without giving it several
real attempts first. If a game doesn’t make me wanna try again and again to get better, I’ll see if there’s a code that can help. My favorite kinds of codes
are those for sound tests if the game doesn’t straight-up offer that feature in the options menu, because I love me some video game music. (“Inorganic Beat”) How do you feel about level select codes? Is that cheating? How about games with passwords, isn’t that basically the same thing? You’re starting over on
the level where you died, assuming that you used a level
select code for that purpose. Many games like Castlevania
3 feature passwords so that you can start where you left off on the same level with the characters you’ve obtained so far. However, passwords are
a bit more personal, you have to earn them, or
at least you’re supposed to. (crunchy Super R-Type music and sounds) The next kind of cheating is through the use of actual
physical cheat devices like the Game Genie or Pro Action Replay. These products let you
put in certain codes which temporarily alter the
parameter of the game’s RAM or ROM to offer results
that were never intended by the game’s developers. Game Genies exist for
the NES, Super Nintendo, Genesis, and Game Boy. The Pro Action Replay line
offers similar results, and is argued to be even more powerful in what it can do and
has products available even for the PlayStation and the Saturn. Depending on the code, almost anything in the game can be done. Simple things like extra ammunition to all-out invincibility are possible. Or even weird things like jumping higher, or every time you press a button you die. On Sonic the Hedgehog 1,
you can even put in a code on the Genesis Game Genie
to modify the bonus stage rotation routine by
causing the game to ignore one line of code. This results in a much
smoother rotating animation. And it’s super cool. Nintendo famously opposed
the NES Game Genie and even took Galoob to
court over its existence, claiming that it created derivative works of their copyrighted
intellectual properties. The court disagreed,
citing that it’s similar to fast-forwarding a movie
or skipping pages in a book. Also, the changes go away once
the console is powered down. The NES Game Genie is bad, though, as it can ruin the cartridge port on your system in short order and it doesn’t work
well with a top-loader. I’m not actually about
to put this in my system, but I can show you what it looks like by running a Game Genie ROM
on a flash cartridge here. Personally, I really like
using Game Genie-style codes for neat tricks like the
aforementioned Sonic bonus stage. But, sometimes if there’s
a game that has defeated me again and again and I
have no real interest in practicing or playing much anymore, I’ll use a Game Genie
code to see the whole game if there aren’t already built-in codes. I would’ve otherwise probably
never played the game again, so at least the Game Genie gives me reason to pull it down and explore more. Can you brag to the other
kids on the playground that you beat the game if you used one of these cheat devices? Definitely no. I’ve never done that, but then again, I’ve never owned any
cheat device in its time. I always bought them
decades later just for fun. And that’s what they are, fun
toys to tinker around with. (sweet music from Heavy Nova) You may be wondering why I keep talking about bragging to the other
kids on the playground about beating a game. It’s actually one of the
few examples I can think of where other people might
be impressed or care that I actually beat a game. Not that I’m trying to diss
streamers or speedrunners or anything, what they do is
actually very very impressive. It’s just that for the average gamer, I don’t think it’s a huge bragging point. Anyway, let’s talk about
controllers for a bit. I think this is kind of a gray area when it comes to cheating. So you’re busy playing
through your favorite game with a controller that
came with your console. It’s fun, but man, you
just can’t get far enough because you can’t press
the buttons fast enough to cause massive damage to your enemies! (growls) But then you buy a weird,
third-party controller that has a rapid fire or turbo switch that you can enable. Suddenly, you can fire
your weapon super fast without any effort at all. As a result, you’re able to
get further into the game. Is this cheating, or is this awesome? Certainly the developer didn’t mean for you to use rapid fire,
or they would’ve just built that into the game, right? What about first party controllers made by the console manufacturer
like the NES Advantage or the NES MAX, both of
which offer turbo features? Or, how about the rapid fire unit for the Sega Master System which
attaches to any controller? It can even attach to the Light Phaser, and all you have to do in most games is hold down the trigger to win. These are all optional accessories and nobody has to buy them. Only filthy cheaters
would buy them, right? But, what about consoles
like the TurboGrafx-16? It comes with a controller that
has built-in turbo switches. However, the PC Engine, which
is what the TurboGrafx-16 is known as in Japan,
originally did not come with controllers that had these switches. But this was soon changed
and every NEC console came with a controller
that has this turbo option. In fact, the manuals for most games will even suggest what position
to have these switches in in order to be most effective
for that particular game. So if you beat Fantasy Zone or
any other game on the system with these switches
engaged, did you cheat? In my opinion, absolutely not. You’re using features that were included and advertised with the console. There is no reason to feel like you had an edge that
you shouldn’t have had, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You still absolutely beat the game. Is it more impressive to beat the game without the switches engaged? Well, sure. But it’s also more
impressive to beat the game with only one life, not
collecting any power-ups, or not getting hit. There’s no shame at all using rapid fire on TurboGrafx or PC Engine games. But how about other systems which did not include rapid
fire controllers in the box? This is where it’s more
of a gray area for me. I don’t feel that there’s
really any shame here, but at the same time, this
ability wasn’t included. You had to seek it out
and buy it separately. I don’t have many rapid fire controllers for different consoles personally, at least not ones that I actually use. I just have a bunch of
them that I’m saving up for an eventual episode where I wanna talk about
crappy controllers. It’s coming eventually, I promise, I just need to get more
crappy controllers. Then again, I’m pretty
good at pressing the button fast enough for a natural
rapid fire like I’m doing here. I feel that using the slow motion feature built into some controllers
can be cheating, though. And honestly, it’s also annoying. I can’t imagine people using
this feature very much. Still, most of the games that I absolutely need rapid fire for, like shooters, usually has it
built directly into the game. The reason I need it is
because you’re firing almost literally all
the time in these games. (peppy yet foreboding redbook
music from the future) How about games with
adjustable difficulty? If you play a game set to easy, or anything below the default setting, does that make you less of a gamer? Did you really beat the game
if you finish it in this mode? Do you even qualify as
a living human being with actual rights if you play on easy? Some games, like Ghouls
‘n Ghosts on the Genesis, actually default to the easiest setting. You can tell by the world “practice” at the bottom of the screen. Rarely have I ever seen anyone play this without that word boldly emblazoned at the bottom of the screen
for the entire world to see. When I first got this
game 60 years ago in 1989, I played on practice. In fact, that’s how I learned to play it. This, combined with a
hidden invincibility feature I saw in a game magazine, really allowed me to learn
the ins and outs of the game. It was several years before I
tried the professional mode. Now I can just walk through this game with ease on professional. I don’t feel that there’s anything wrong with playing on practice, though. It does scale things back and helps you learn the stage layout and some enemy patterns. And this can be said about
almost any other game with difficulty settings. Pick one that’s comfortable for you, but I’d recommend you try
whatever the default mode is the first few times you play it. If you finish the game
with it set to easy, then you can say you beat it. There’s no shame in that in my opinion. Of course, some games won’t
let you beat them on easy, which personally I think is kind of lame. If that’s what the developers wanna do, why even bother including an
easy mode in the first place? I’d honestly rather not have any mode where I can’t go through the entire game. On a similar note, I don’t
feel that it’s cheating if you adjust the number
of lives and continues to the maximum allowable
amount in the options screen before you start your game. If you’re gonna give me the option, hell yeah, I’m gonna take it. At the very least, it
gives me more opportunities to practice my skills at the
parts that are hard for me rather than having to waste my life going through the parts of
the game that I’m good at, just to practice again. So yeah, why wouldn’t I increase them? (hella awesome rock music) Have you noticed that I’m asking a ton of rhetorical
questions in this episode? Should I ask more, should I ask fewer? Why am I asking so many questions instead of just giving my own opinion? Am I afraid to commit to an answer? Why did I come on camera
just for this part? Will someone add up the
total number of questions I ask in this episode? Will I even get back to this episode? Is this even real life? So much to ponder. There are many other ways
to get help finishing games that technically aren’t you using your sweet skills to complete. Strategy guides used to be a big thing. These would basically
give you a walkthrough on any given game along with maps, pictures, and other hints. Nintendo Power was pretty famous for having detailed strategy
guides every other issue. There are also websites like GameFAQs which offer written walkthroughs on just about any game you can think of. Granted, it’s just boring text, but the better guides
are written well enough where you don’t need
pictures to help guide you. Would you call this outright cheating, or maybe just hand-holding? I’ve never used a strategy guide, as I didn’t wanna pay
money for such a thing. Well actually, I did use
some maps for Alex Kidd published in a magazine back in the day. I’ve used GameFAQs to help
me get through tough areas of different games which I
could just not figure out. Some guides on there,
though, are written so poorly that they only made things
worse in the long run. Can you say you’ve beaten a game if you’ve gotten some
kind of help or hints, be it from a guide, a friend, or even people in your livestream chat? How about if you beat a two
player game with a friend? Can you say that you beat the game? As I asked in this video’s
thumbnail and title, where is the line drawn? And does there even
really need to be a line? Is this all really that important? (music from Contra, probably) – [Not John Elway] Set, hut! (character screams in deafening pain) Set, hut! – [Joe] The last area of
cheating I wanna look at is something that doesn’t
go all the way back to the days of eight bit gaming. Things like save states exist in emulators and on modern console flash cartridges. Basically, a save state will let you save exactly where you are
in any game at any time. If something bad happens, you
can reload that save state and try again from there. In my opinion, this is a
great way to learn the game. However, it is absolutely cheating if you’re using it for a speedrun or for high score championship purposes. There are some speedruns out there that are called TAS, or
tool-assisted speedruns which use save states to
get the best run imaginable, and they don’t try to hide that fact. And that’s perfectly fine. Then there’s the rewind feature which is popular in some emulators. It’s also available in
classic games on the Switch and mini consoles like the SNES Classic. Personally, I feel the
rewind feature is great. If you mess up, you can
actually rewind the gameplay for a few seconds and try
that same thing again. You can keep doing it
until you get it right. It’s similar to a save state, but it differs in that you
don’t have to constantly worry about creating a save state to begin with, the console keeps track of it for you. The rewind feature is perhaps the best way to learn the difficult parts of any game, and the quickest way to train. Many racing games like
Forza Horizon 3 here actually have the rewind feature built-in, and they encourage you to use it. So even though that this is cheating, it really isn’t, since
it’s part of the game. If you use the rewind
feature or save states and end up beating the
game, can you brag about it to those kids on the playground that are still waiting to be impressed? No, no, not in my opinion. But you know what? I bet you’re in a far better position now to beat the game without any assistance because you were able to quickly learn thanks to the rewind feature. Should you be forced to learn
a game the traditional way by playing the early levels
over and over and over again just to get up to the spot
that’s giving you trouble? I don’t think so. Learn the game any way you can. Doing it this way or that way doesn’t make you a better or worse person. What can kind of ruin the experience are the White Tanooki Suits
in lots of modern Mario games. For example, in Super Mario
3D World on the Wii U here, if you die five times on a single level, you have the option to
get this white suit. And in some of the upper levels, dying five times is really not hard to do. Anyway, this suit makes
you completely invincible for the entire stage. Fortunately, it’s optional. Other games like Mario
Kart 8 Deluxe on the Switch default to an extremely easy mode. Do you see that little
antenna sticking up? That means assisted steering is on and you’re cheating
without even knowing it unless you make it a point to learn what that antenna even means. (Mario shouting gleefully) Of course, there are still many
different kinds of cheating, like paying Chinese companies
to level up your character in an MMORPG while you sleep. I don’t play those types of games at all. There’s also some hacking methods so you get tons of head shots
in first person shooter games. Overall, though, I feel
like any kind of cheating in any online game is bad and malicious. I can certainly understand
why such players have their accounts banned
and they 100% deserve it. Aside from that, do I feel
that cheating in games is a bad thing? No, absolutely not. Just as long as you’re having
fun, that’s all that matters. I never really care that
much when someone says that they beat a video game, though I can certainly be impressed at some feats that some
people can perform, like this rad trick I’m doing
here in Super Monkey Ball. Check out my skills here, see that? Don’t my skills at this
game make me so cool? Like I’m a better human
being because of this, right? I am so skilled at this video game! Okay, nah nah nah, I’m just being silly, I’m not better than you, well I’m better than you at this game, but I’m not better than
you as a human being or even as a gamer, it’s
just, like I said, silly. Others might have lots
of fun trying new ways to make it to the goal,
and that’s what I feel gaming is all about, fun. And if you’re having fun, I’m
not gonna crap all over you for using any other method
other than just brute forcing your way through a game. The only time that is bad is if you claim your skill is
actually better than it is. Please, don’t do that. If you suck at a certain
game, or even all games, that’s okay, I still think you’re cool, just as long as you’re having fun. Trust me, there’s plenty
of games I suck at, plenty. If you beat a game using
codes or rewind features, more power to you, that really doesn’t bother me in the least. And it shouldn’t bother you, either. (cool Gradius V music) – [Manly computerized
Voice] Destroy the core. – So, those are my thoughts on cheating, and honestly I don’t think
it’s that big of a deal, at least outside of competitive gameplay. I may be way better at Ghouls ‘n Ghosts and Super Monkey Ball than you are, but that doesn’t mean you can’t
enjoy ’em any way you want. So, what are your thoughts on the subject? I expect each and every one
of my rhetorical questions to be answered by every single one of you. From memory, don’t go using
that rewind feature on YouTube to see what I asked, that’s cheating. Lemme know, in the meantime, thank you for watching Game Sack. (Game Sack Credits Theme) You know, I really wanna
beat Metal Storm on the NES, but I’m not very good at it and I don’t wanna look up Game Genie codes and have to punch ’em in
and then press buttons all the way through the game. There’s gotta be an easier
way I can beat this one. (upbeat music) Oh yes, and done! I found a longplay on YouTube. Marking this one off as a game I beat. Hmmm, what game should I beat next?

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