Cheat codes are a bit of a lost art these days. As a child of the ‘90s, I fondly remember the phonebook-thick books of cryptology purchasable at your local Barnes & Noble. It was an act of selflessness, that after the hours and hours you sunk into something like NBA Jam, there were a few more novelties to extend out your enjoyment for a few more hours. I love cheat codes, I miss cheat codes, especially in the context of sports games. The goofy, bygone era of entertainment where an NFL Blitz cabinet lived in every Fuddruckers, and replacing your squad with a team of lions made you the coolest kid on the playground.
So we decided to look back on this era of cheat codes, and loosely rank them in order of memorability, enjoyment and importance. But mostly it’s to remember an era where the people who made sports games didn’t take themselves so damn seriously.
I was trying to think what should occupy the bottom spot on our journey through sports cheat codes of eons past, and I was looking through your modern games, the Maddens and MLB The Shows of the world. And I realized that these games do carry the tradition of cheat codes, in NBA 2k14 you can max out your career-mode rookie from the start, but that will cost you a hefty sum of extraneous money. You see, in 2014, the previous generosity of cheat codes have been replaced with a virtual vending machine. How sinister does a company need to be to assign price-tags to the sanctity of “Permanent Turbo” or “Big Head Mode?” Well you tell me, because that’s the shadow we’re living in.
Crazy Ball sucks. Crazy Ball is the cheat code for masochists. Crazy Ball means that when you’re trying to field a pop-up, you’re left running around in circles in the outfield because that stupid cheat code you put in disabled the physics engine. This is really good if you’re watching the person you’re playing against fail to convert an easy putout because the ball bounced 1,000 feet in the air, but really obnoxious when your free kick careens off into the stratosphere. If you like your sports games callous and uncaring of your earnest efforts, Crazy Ball is what you’re looking for.
Small Head Mode is like Big Head Mode, but you only put in Small Head Mode if you liked disappointing other people. Whenever you’re playing Small Head Mode, the general consensus of the room is, “why didn’t put put in Big Head Mode?”
If you look back on Big Head Mode, you’ll start to feel very old. Was this really what made you laugh? A bunch of digital athletes with larger heads than usual? Was that all you needed? I used to think Big Head Mode was the funniest thing in all of video games. Ben Wallace with a giant poofy headband? That was absolute gold, but now? Weathered with all this taste? It’ll leave your stony face unmoved, and your youth even further out of reach than it usually feels.
This is actually a very important, gameplay enhancing sports game cheat, because if you play a fair amount of FIFA, you will inevitably run into a situation where the person you’re playing against goes up one goal and is perfectly happy to pass the ball back and forth in the defending third. This means you are playing sports games with bad people and you should stop doing that. Alternatively, you put in the “players fall down” cheat, in which after a side holds possession of the ball past a certain quota, all of their players fall down like the most elaborate sniper operation in history. You cackle to yourself, and like before, probably get punched in the face.
If you want to get punched directly in the face, first be 12 years old with a copy of Ken Griffey Baseball. Then put in the cheat code to call your home run, and then actually hit the home run. You should now gloat as loudly and obnoxiously as your mid-pubescence entitles you to, and hope against hope that your brother doesn’t go for the plastic light saber in the closet.
Do you like breaking your video games? Then I highly suggest unlimited turbo. Unlimited turbo means linebackers are coming around the tackles before the ball even lands in your quarterback’s hands. Unlimited turbo means your running back takes off back towards his own endzone, only to turn back around to score a touchdown in record time. Unlimited turbo is when the scoreboard breaks because developers didn’t implement triple-digit capability. Unlimited turbo makes Joey Harrington hurdle like he’s Dick Fosbury. Basically, unlimited turbo is the only way to play video games.
I am a man of simple pleasures. So when your basketball video game features the option of Al Gore, enraptured with flames, circling back down to earth to deliver a monster dunk, I am going to be a fan. This is very simple alchemy; people who should not be bombing three pointers bombing three pointers. Bill Clinton throwing hip checks at Charles Barkley. This is why we haven’t given up on sports games, and why NBA Jam will forever remain the greatest video game of all-time. Nothing will ever come close.