Friday, June 8, 2012

But Is It Really Cheating?

Dr. Potts brought up a nice point, his first in fact, about LIMBO in his post on Tuesday.  His first sentence was, "I cheated twice."

In our current world of near internet connectivity through laptops, netbooks, game consoles, e-readers, smartphones and desktops, the way that we seek and take in information has changed dramatically, especially since I started playing video games in the mid 1980s.  The way this affects gaming and how we game is what I wanted to talk about.

I can remember,  not the exact year, sitting outside on a set of bleachers waiting for my swimming lesson to start (so let's say somewhere around 1988-89) talking with one of my friends about how to beat The Legend of Zelda.  I was at the battle with Ganon and didn't have an idea as to how to slay the Prince of Darkness.  I obviously knew enough about the game's mechanics to know how the game worked to know what I was doing for the most part.  This friend told me that he had heard and possibly implemented as well, the tactic of using the meat/bait that worked for lesser enemies and that it would draw Ganon out and then you could kill him with the Silver Arrow.  My tactic of firing frantically with the Silver Arrow wasn't working too well and Nintendo Power only gave so much information, but not how to defeat the final boss.  Talking with friends about being stuck in areas in video games was the earliest form of Gamefaqs.  I do not consider this cheating.

Enter Game Genie.  Yes, the desire to cheat in games was very great, especially with a device whose sole purpose was to subvert the pre-existing game program to allow special allowances such as allowing Mario to perform multiple jumps in mid air, make Mega Man's special weapon meter never go down or even giving General Leo's "Shock" attack to Terra in Final Fantasy III/VI.  For me, I would never (okay, maybe not "never" but very rarely) use Game Genie on a game that I hadn't beaten...... Okay, with the exception of Mega Man II, although that was to see what bosses and weapons were like and I never beat a game with Game Genie.  Either way, I've never been a fan of cheating.

If I remember correctly, in Goldeneye 007, whenever you enabled a "Cheat," it would not progress the game beyond the level you were currently playing.  Even if was something inane as "Paintball Mode" you could not progress the story line.  I thought this was a brilliant idea in a few ways.  First, you had to "earn" the cheat and not just punch in a certain code or button combination.  You could almost say that this was a form of functional achievements as I know Dr. Potts and I would frequently ask if we'd gotten a specific cheat yet.  (Dr. Potts is also the only person I've known who was able to earn the Invincibility cheat by beating "Facility" in 2:05 on 00 Agent).  Speaking of which, I watched a similar video that Nintendo put out  way back when, showing how to go through the level to get the cheat.  To this day, it's still the only cheat I don't have in that game.

So with that, what do I consider "cheating?"

1.  Looking up or seeking information about how to beat/pass a particular area/puzzle/boss/enemy in a game without having tried it before.
2.  Using codes, exploiting bugs/glitches or otherwise manipulating the game that was not intended during regular gameplay.
     -Examples: 150 item cheat in Pokemon Red/Blue; The Konami Code; Typing "Red Alert" or "On Screen" (among others) in Warcraft II.
3.  Completing a level for someone.
     -While I won't beat a level for someone if they ask me to, I do have a "policy" of sorts that I will show them how to beat a level, but then make them do it themselves.  I don't see this being any different than someone looking up a video on youtube.
4.  Using maps for areas or dungeons that you have not previously tried to explore on your own.

With that, I do not consider Dr. Potts to have cheated on LIMBO.

Little Gage Says "No Fair!"


  1. A couple things came to mind :
    1. I remember thinking I was hot shit when I did the 150 item cheat thing in pokemon...
    2. I have to say I would consider most of the examples in #2 (Konami code, Red Alert, etc) as easter eggs rather than cheats though.
    3. I used to live off cheat codes in the Sims, but I stopped because the game is way more satisfying when you actually earn your rewards!

  2. Thank you Mr. J. Conan, I appreciate you vindicating me against my self-imposed 'cheater' label. You hit it right on the head, noting that the technology has changed. I didn't have Youtube hints available to me back when I was learning how to play video games. I don't know how long I would have held out before looking it up. I think that the 15-30 minutes I struggled on one puzzle in LIMBO is an acceptable amount. But I will play through again without any help!

  3. Also, talking about cheat codes and easter eggs has inspired me to make my own post about the subject :)