Cheating can be funny.
In video games there are cheats that help you win, cheats that make it impossible to lose, or cheats to unlock characters, weapons, challenges, maps and skins without effort.
But whether they’re engine-breaking hacks or developer-built Easter eggs, without a doubt the best kind of cheat is the kind that makes you laugh.
So this is a rundown of the craziest codes, the most uproarious unlockables, the most comical console commands and the most downright chucklesome cheats in gaming.
Moon Gravity – Tony Hawk’s Underground
As somebody who has never had any personal interest in the sport or culture of skating, it’s difficult to put my finger on what attracts me to the Tony Hawk’s games. T.H.U.G. was my introduction to the series, and one of my favourite things about it was the sheer number of funny touches and Easter eggs that littered its conspicuously ramping and grindable streets.
Of all the game’s unlockable cheat modes, Moon Gravity was the most fun. Who wouldn’t love the ability to spring explosively from the ground and kickflip through the first floor window of a strip club?
Flying Cars – GTA: San Andreas
This one was a difficult choice. I mean, how is one expected to choose the best out of all the crazy cheats that the Grand Theft Auto series have given us over the years?
I could have gone with the hilarious super punch, which would launch NPCs across the map like baseballs; or the code that lets you spawn a military tank slap bang in the middle of Liberty City – but in truth one of my fondest memories of the series was flying a police car majestically through the air while singing along to ‘Express Yourself’ by N.W.A..
Actually for some reason I have that on video…
Evil Cars – Saints Row Series
When Saints Row was stealing everything it did from the GTA games, it also pinched the series’ long held tradition of including funny and ridiculous cheat codes. Yet once again, Saint’s Row managed to do it better.
“Evil Cars” mode was always guaranteed hilarity. Making the number one priority of every driver on the road to crush you under their wheels created some crazy demolition derby-style carnage from the moment it was activated.
Honourable mentions go to the “Heaven Bound” cheat that causes the recently killed to float up into the clouds like angels; and its evil twin “Raining Pedestrians” which continuously spawns NPCs in the sky, who then fall to a comical splatter death on the ground.
Exploding Lara – Tomb Raider II
This cheat is probably the “Rickroll” of the gaming world. Tomb Raider’s popularity with sexually frustrated pubescent teenage boys (for its janky early-3D rendering of a woman who looked like she was hiding a giant Toblerone under her top) inspired this top-notch piece of developer trolling.
Traditionally, this code would be passed on to friends with the promise that it would turn Lara Croft nude, only for them to discover that the code just made her explode into tiny pieces.
Admittedly not quite as sexy, but far more humorous.
Cars explode with one touch – The Simpsons: Hit & Run
Popularly regarded as “GTA for kids who weren’t yet old enough to play GTA”, The Simspons: Hit & Run was a legitimately brilliant game. Its humour and gameplay still holds up today, despite my massive amounts of personal nostalgia and bias. While the writers and cast from the actual show made this game hilarious to play as intended, there were also plenty of amusing cheats to utilise on the streets of Springfield. The one that takes the crown for me is “Cars explode with one touch”.
More often than not, the destruction unleashed by this code would very swiftly set Chief Wiggum and his fellow officers after you – but that’s where the fun really begins. Sit back and watch with joy as each cop car instantly explodes as it tries to arrest you. Beautiful.
Human gun sounds – TimeSplitters: Future Perfect
Yet another game that clearly knew what it was doing when it came to cheats – the characters, enemies and players in this time-travelling shooter could be given anything from slow-motion death animations to creepy rotating heads.
For my money though, TimeSplitters: Future Perfect was at its funniest when providing us with a deathmatch arena filled with the sounds of “pew pew pew!” “PSSCCHHHOOH!” “Pneaow! Pneeeaow!” – perhaps because it reminded me of children at play. Children who have clearly been turned into twitching violent freaks through the influence of aggressive video games like this one.
Wishy washy Banjo – Banjo-Kazooie
One of the more surreal cheat codes on this list, entering the correct code onto the sandcastle floor in Banjo-Kazooie will cause your pet shaman Mumbo Jumbo to turn you into a washing machine. Unfortunately, this does restrict the number of special attacks Banjo can use.
Oh, did I mention the game remains fully playable? Yep, you can continue to complete insanely large portions of the game as a washing machine, using a primary attack of firing underwear at your foes.
Brushes Mode – Lego Star Wars: The Video Game
Oh, to find the right pun… “The Empire Sweeps Back” perhaps? How about “may the janitorial force be with you”..? I’ll come back to it.
Anyway, we all have fond memories of the very first LEGO video game, Lego Star Wars. It was the first time we were exposed to that distinct wacky LEGO humour, which acted as a self-aware parody of the property it was representing. Enter “Brushes Mode”, which replaced the deadly lightsabers of every Jedi and Sith with push brooms; turning each tense sword fight into hilarious domestic disputes between aggravated 50s housewives.
Dog Mode – Rise of the Triad
Fine, this one was technically a power-up rather than a cheat but I’m putting it in anyway because it was just that good. Rise of the Triad was originally intended to be a sequel to id Software’s Wolfenstein 3D (never thought it was weird you spent the whole game fighting Nazis?), but ended up a whole lot wackier than id’s later efforts like Doom and Quake.
Seeing that numerous games include a “God mode”, Rise of the Triads instead gave us “Dog mode”. In it, players could run around with a fluffy little nose at the bottom of the screen and a furry paw which lashed out at buttons and enemies. Awwwwwwh.
DK Mode – GoldenEye
Well, you probably saw this one coming. There have been many variants on the ‘big head mode’ throughout gaming, but this is one of the best. And since it was so easy to activate, this may have been my first experience with an unlockable cheat.
Perhaps that’s one of the things that made it so funny – and why it’s such a shared and memorable experience within my generation of gamers. DK Mode deserves to top this list because for so many of us, it was the first time we’d ever seen one of these optional modifications. And as a result, the ridiculousness and the hilarity hit that much harder. Besides, we all enjoyed watching big-headed Pierce Brosnan flinging himself off the edge of a dam.
And that’s before we even activated the cheat.