9 hilariously evil ways games punish cheaters

The cheat is grounded

Since time immemorial, video games have included cheat codes. A tiny handful of letters, numbers, and symbols let players experience their favorite games in ways that the developer may not have intended. Infinite lives. All the weapons. Oh, look, a tank just appeared! It’s a great way to get some additional joy out of a game you’ve thoroughly crushed, or perhaps get past a level that’s giving you a really hard time. So then, why would developers put a cheat code in a game and then slap the player’s hand for trying to use it? Because they’re evil, that’s why.

Many games will openly mock, berate, or even punish players for using codes. Plus, with products that specifically change the game’s code (like the GameShark), these penalties aren’t always deliberate. Whether intentional or not, these are some of the most diabolical ways in which games penalize players for cheating. The punishment may not always fit the crime, but the results are usually hilarious. Well, at least when it’s not happening to you..

Banjo-Kazooie will straight up delete your save file

Banjo-Kazooie is a mean, vile beast of a game. Sure, it’s got a bubbly theme song and cutesy bug-eyed characters. But underneath that adorable demeanor lies not only one of the most disturbing abominations to be found in a kids game (opens in new tab), but also a cheat system that will completely ruin your day if you’re not careful.

In order to enter cheats in Banjo-Kazooie, first you have to find a secret keyword, then enter it in a special room inside a sand castle. These cheats won’t get you in trouble, and are a natural part of playing the game. But there are super-secret level-skip cheats that aren’t part of the actual game, and if you enter too many of them, Grunty will swoop down and completely erase your save file. At least your helper Bottles is courteous enough to warn you before you go too far.

Donkey Kong 64 becomes virtually unplayable permanently

Remember the GameShark? Essentially a hexadecimal editor for dummies, the GameShark would rewrite bits of code in the attached game, granting infinite health, ammo, lives, or all sorts of other neat features that the developers never intended. Most of the time, these cheats would go away when you turned the game off. Using it with Donkey Kong 64, however, will make you instantly regret your decision.

Using certain GameShark cheats on Rare’s classic platformer will occasionally cause your game to glitch out in some very strange ways. But that’s not the half of it; the GameShark can also make it so that you literally cannot pick up a single item off the ground, and you’ll always die in one hit. It wouldn’t be so bad if it went away after you turned the game off, but if you accidentally save your game while in this state, this glitch never goes away. Nope, you’re now stuck with a broken game. Forever. I know cheaters shouldn’t prosper, but this is just mean.

Link’s Awakening brands you as a thief for the rest of the game

The shopkeeper in Link’s first Game Boy outing has his eye on you, and if you try to walk out of the store with a pocketful of bombs, he’ll yell at you to come back over to the counter and pay for them. But, if you’re clever, you can (literally) run circles around the store owner, tricking him into looking the other way while you walk out of the store scot-free.

Or so it would seem. You may think you’ve pulled a fast one on the game, but you’ll start to notice that people are starting to nonchalantly call you “THIEF” instead of whatever name you typed in at the start. Also, if you try to go back into the store because you forgot to pick up some arrows to go with that bow you just stole, you’ll find the shopkeeper waiting to laser blast you out of existence. Was it worth it?

Gradius 3 and Super Monkey Ball Jr. punish you for trying to use the Konami Code

Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A. You probably know it as the Konami Code, a sequence so ubiquitous that even non-Konami published games feature this string of button presses. Most of the time it grants the player infinite lives, or some other awesome power or ability. Which is why it it’s incredibly evil when developers prey on players’ expectations and punish them for giving the code a shot.

In the SNES version of Gradius 3 (a Konami game, no less), players who attempted to input this code were “rewarded” with a destroyed space craft. No, you had to replace the “left” and “right” button inputs with L and R button presses to get the real cheat code; something you’d never even know unless you read the Classified Information section in Nintendo Power. Less mean but still kind of emotionally scarring, Super Monkey Ball Jr. on Game Boy Advance changes the title to Super Nice Try if you attempt to put in the Konami code. It’s not even a Konami game.

SimCity will either destroy your city or saddle you with soul-crushing debt

Oh, we all know you’re a hard working mayor, doing your best to keep your metropolis running smoothly, but sometimes things get a little rough, and you have to do whatever you can to get a little extra cash. In the first SimCity game, typing in “FUND” would get you a cool ten grand; more than enough to help float you for a bit. But free money is alluring, and typing in the code too many times will cause an earthquake to rip your city apart. It’s probably God coming to punish you for your avaricious ways.

SimCity 2000 also lets you type “FUND” for some extra cash, but here, it’s given to you as a loan. A 25% loan. Which is worse: a city-shattering earthquake, or debilitating debt? You can type in “CASS” for a smaller amount of $250, but there’s also a 15% chance something terrible will happen to your city. Do you feel lucky?

Afterlife summons a Death Star to destroy your buildings if you get too greedy

Afterlife is pretty much SimCity for heaven and hell. You control both realms of the afterlife, and have to build structures to either reward virtuous spirits or punish naughty ones. It’s also a LucasArts game, which means it’s filled with pop culture references. Namely, a particularly notorious moon-sized space station crops up whenever you decide to play it fast and loose with the cheats.

If you type “$@!” while you’re playing, you’ll get an additional ten million pennies to spend on various implements of torture/virtue. Get a little trigger happy with the copper coins, though, and the Death Star will show up in your metaphysical little kingdom and start cleaning house. Just further proof that you don’t mess with the Dark Side.

Slender: The Arrival doesn’t care if you cheat, because it will find you

Glitching out a horror game so you don’t have to confront its horrors seems to defeat the entire purpose, but hey, you bought the game, and you want to play your way. I get that. The developers of the creepy Slender: The Arrival get that too, and they’ve specifically tuned their game to anticipate any sort of player malfeasance and scare the shit out of you for trying to pull a fast one.

If you attempt to escape from the faceless horror of the Slender Man by glitching outside of the borders of the map, you’re greeted with a ground that has no bottom as you instantly fall to your death. But that’s seems like a typical punishment for trying to walk where a floor hasn’t been programmed. Slender: The Arrival ups the scare factor by taunting you with a haunting “Not even a bug in this game will save you from me” while you die. Damn you, Slender Man! Why must you torment me so?

Guild Wars publically bans you by murdering your avatar with a giant scythe

Cheating in an offline, single-player game isn’t so bad when your conscience is the only thing you have to answer to. But being an unscrupulous player in an online game, with volatile economies and real, in-game consequences well, there’s no excuse for that. Typically, cheats are punished with an account ban and an email detailing why they’ve been booted permanently from the game. But the developers of Guild Wars wanted to make sure that everyone got the message, and have come up with a sadistically brilliant way of doing so.

If your account has been caught breaking the end-user agreement in any way, be it through illegal mods, duplicating items, or whatever other infractions that could otherwise give you an unfair advantage, you’ll get a visit from the massive, screen-filling Dhuum. It’s Guild Wars’ version of the personification of Death–complete with giant scythe–and he pops up out of the ground to slice your character in half (opens in new tab), thus booting you from the game entirely. It’s a win-win for everyone; The Guild Wars team gets to kick out the riff-raff, and the people around the offending player get to have a bit of a laugh. The only person not laughing? Well, they had it coming.

Max Payne 3 cheaters get to share their own little of circle of hell

Now, banning players completely from playing online is a totally understandable thing to do. If you break the rules, you have to face the consequences. But what if you don’t want to kick potential players (and future DLC purchases) out right away? What if you want to give them a chance to atone for their sins, while making sure they never, ever cheat again? Well, you do what Rockstar did, and lump all of the cheaters into one big room full of jerks.

If you get caught cheating in Max Payne 3, you’ll find it increasingly difficult to find matches online, and when you do end up in a match, you’ll notice it’s full of cheaters just like you. That’s right, you’ve been relegated to the cheaters’ servers, and have been banned from normal online play. There is a way to get back on the regular servers, but it probably involves some kind of blood oath or just being nice and not cheating any more. One of the two. Camping, however, won’t get you banned. It might be cowardly, but it’s a legitimate strategy.

Cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater

It’s one thing to poke fun; it’s another to completely demolish your save file just because you wanted to skip a level or two. Have you been berated by a game for trying input some hot Game Genie codes? Let me know in the comments below!

Be sure to check out this Top 7 list of insane video game musical numbers no one asked for (opens in new tab), or gaming’s 15 best living weapons. (opens in new tab)

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