Best Cheat Codes of all time

Once upon a time, video game cheat codes were a vital part of the landscape.

Initially used by developers and playtesters to quickly test portions of games, these codes became an essential commodity for players – so much so that cheat cartridges such as the Game Genie and Game Shark (which modified portions of the game code to enable things like infinite lives or invulnerability) sold briskly, as they were seen as giving gamers a serious advantage.

While the humble cheat code isn't as prevalent as it once was, a few examples stick in the memory – and some, like the legendary Konami code, have become iconic in their own right. Below we've detailed some of the most memorable video game cheat codes of all time – be sure to tell us what your favourite is by posting a comment at the end.

Mortal Kombat's Blood Code

Mortal Kombat Blood Code

One of the most infamous codes in the history of video gaming, Mortal Kombat's 'Blood Code' arguably led to the Mega Drive / Genesis port of the arcade game being the definitive version – the SNES conversion lacked any blood and gore, as per Nintendo's guidelines.

The 16-bit Sega port was handled by UK studio Probe, with Paul Carruthers handling the lead programming duties. While all of the violence was included, it was locked away behind the aforementioned cheat code. "I put the gore on a switch so that it was easy to turn on or off as required," recalls Carruthers. "The version we did for the German market had gore switched off. The code that I originally put in was 'DULLARD'. I was quite proud of this, but the publishers thought it was too complicated to keep putting in – and probably too silly. Very near the end of the project, they asked us to come up with a code that used only the A, B and C buttons. My code was expecting seven letters – so there wasn’t an awful lot of choice."

The eventual code was A, B, A, C, A, B, B, which is one letter off being the title of Genesis' (the progressive rock band, not the console) 1981 album. Carruthers' original code, DULLARD, still works, however; on the game's title screen, input Down, Up, Left, Left, A, Right, Down, and you'll get even more cheat options.

What few people realise is that the accompanying Master System and Game Gear versions also have a Blood Code – input 2, 1, 2, Down and Up to unlock the good stuff.

GoldenEye 007's Big Head Mode

GoldenEye Big Head Mode

'Big head' modes were a real craze at one point in the video game industry, with titles like NBA Jam adding in the feature via special codes. Heck, Sega even took this concept to the next level with Virtua Fighter Kids, which contained a cast of characters who were children and therefore had large heads by default.

However, arguably the most famous 'big head' mode belongs to GoldenEye 007 on the Nintendo 64. By inputting the rather laborious code below at any point during the single-player campaign, you can give all characters a comically large cranium – making headshots that little bit easier.

  • L + R + UP
  • R + LEFT
  • R + UP
  • UP
  • R + RIGHT
  • UP
  • L + R + C-DOWN
  • L + R + DOWN
  • L + R + C-LEFT

The Konami Code

Gradius Konami Code
Image: Konami

Arguably the most famous cheat code of all time, the Konami code (so-called because it features in a lot of the company's games) was created by Kazuhisa Hashimoto, who added it to the Famicom / NES port of Gradius after he found it was too difficult to play through during testing.

Tapping in up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A and Start gives you a full selection of power-ups in the iconic shmup, making things a lot easier.

The code was never supposed to be included in the final version of the game, but it was – and Konami subsequently included it as a default cheat code in many of its games. Non-Konami games also include the code, such as LittleBigPlanet 2, Dead by Daylight and Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal.

Hashimoto sadly passed away on February 25th, 2020. He also worked on The Goonies and The Legend of the Mystical Ninja during his time at Konami, but he is most famous for creating the Konami code.

Metroid's 'Justin Bailey' Code

Metroid Justin Bailey

The 'big reveal' of the original Metroid is that the character you're playing as is a woman and not a man, and while this twist is reserved for the ending of the game, it's possible to see Samus without her suit much earlier by inputting a cheat code.

Typing in 'JUSTIN BAILEY ------ ------' on the password screen will allow you to begin the game with a Power Suit-less Samus – an outfit which is normally shown in the game's second-best ending.

Many people have tried to dig into the significance of the Justin Bailey code, even claiming that it's the name of someone who worked on the game. However, it has since been revealed that the code is, in fact, a total fluke.

Earthworm Jim's Donkey Kong Head

Earthworm Jim Donkey Kong Cheat Code
Image: Pug Hoof Gaming

This is one that many people may not be aware of, largely thanks to the fact that it only works in the Sega CD version of the game. It's possible to swap out Jim's head for alternatives using different codes, including Afro Jim (B, A, A, A, A, A, B, C), Groucho Marx (A, A, A, A, A, A, B, C) and Ronald McJim (C, A, A, A, A, A, B, C), but our personal favourite is Donkey Worm Kong (Down + C, B, A, A, A, A, B, C, B, A, A, A, A, A, B, C), which gives our hero the head of DK – with an arrow added for good effect (thanks to Pug Hoof Gaming for the suggestion).

Ah, we miss the days of Sega vs Nintendo.

Doom's God Mode

Doom God Mode
Image: Codex

The original 1993 Doom is one of those games which makes you feel like the most powerful person in the world – as long as you've got the right weapon, of course. For those of us who craved a shortcut, the famous 'God Mode' cheat was available.

Type IDDQD in the middle of a Doom session on PC, and you'll find your health set to maximum and your character immune to all damage. Type in IDKFA, and you'll be furnished with all of the available weapons or IDSPISPOPD to pass through solid objects like a ghost.

Console ports of Doom didn't get left out, either; on PlayStation, God Mode is activated by pressing Down, L2, Square, R1, Right, L1, Left, Circle.

NBA Jam's Unlockable Characters

NBA Jam Hidden Characters
Image: teh2Dgamer

We've already covered the fact that NBA Jam had a 'big head' mode, but the cheats that most people will remember from the game relate to the zany hidden characters you could unlock.

These included then-president Bill Clinton, NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon, developer Mark Turmell and 'Air Dog' – who was, in fact, Eric Samulski, the then-nine-year-old son of Acclaim's vice president of product development, Paul Samulski.

These cheats (and the available characters) vary depending on what format you're playing on, but you can find the codes for the Genesis version here and the SNES version here.

Street Fighter 2's 'Same Character' Code

Street Fighter 2
Image: Capcom

Back when the first version of Street Fighter 2 was released on the SNES, one of the biggest issues people had with it was the fact that, in the two-player mode, you couldn't both be the same character. This was, of course, remedied with Street Fighter 2: Champion Edition in the arcades, but the feature was actually present in the SNES port – although you needed to enter a code to get it.

Reset the console, and wait for the Capcom logo to appear. On controller one, tap in Down, R, Up, L, Y and B. A chime will sound which confirms the code has been entered correctly. When in the two-player mode, you'll find you can now both select the same character.

Blow Everything Up In GTA 3

Image: Rockstar Games

Grand Theft Auto 3 has plenty of cool codes, but the one we have the fondest memories of is the ability to blow up all of the cars in the game in a single moment. Type in L2, R2, L1, R1, L2, R2, Triangle, Square, Circle, Triangle, L2, L1 (this is for the PS2 version) to enact this amazing feat of destruction.

While you're at it, you might also want to try sending the city's residents crazy (R2, R1, Triangle, X, L2, L1, Up, Down), causing a full-scale riot (Down, Up, Left, Up, X, R1, R2, L2, L1) or regaining all of your health (R2, R2, L1, R1, Left, Down, Right, Up, Left, Down, Right, Up).

Sonic's Level Select

Sonic Level Select

Sonic's debut on the Mega Drive / Genesis was a really big deal, giving Sega fans something to crow about to their Nintendo-loving mates. If you wanted to show off the game to its fullest potential, then knowing this iconic level select code was essential; you could transport your SNES-owning pals to any of the game's stages and show off Sonic's insane speed, turning them green with envy in the process.

You must remember this one, right? Hold down 'A' then press Up, Down, Left, Right. When you hear the chime, press Start, and you'll be given the option to pick the stage you want to play.

Crazy Taxi's 'Crazy Bike' Rickshaw

Crazy Bike

Crazy Taxi is already pretty zany, but you can take things to the next level by unlocking the 'Crazy Bike', which is essentially a rickshaw.

At the character selection screen on the Dreamcast version, quickly press LR, RT, LT, RT, LT, RT. Once you've done this, select a character to drive, and you'll have the option to ride a bike instead of driving a taxi.

The rickshaw can be obtained via the game's Crazy Box mode, too. Complete all sixteen Crazy Box levels to unlock the bike.