Cheating in video games is as old the games themselves.
Back in the early days of video gaming, cheats often came about due to restrictions in user interfaces. Codes were added to games in order for programmers to access different parts of the game when they needed to. As some of these were left in the final products, players discovered them, and cheats became an option.
Certain early computers, including the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64, also allowed users to tinker with game code, adapting it to access different points of the game. This was the start of early hacking attempts.
As cheating became more common developers began to add in codes deliberately, giving players the challenge of finding them. Codes can now be found across a huge variety of games, both new and old.
Over the years cheating and cheat codes themselves have also adapted as the video game industry has expanded. Some games, such as The Sims franchise, seem to almost encourage cheating, posting lists of all the codes which allow you to adjust various aspects of your game.
Easter eggs and cheat codes are now fairly common across many games of differing genres. Codes to give you money, power, weapons or skills can be found in a variety of video games. There are others however which take a much darker view of those who cheat. From games which call you out, to those that will ban you, here’s a list of 30 games which will punish you for cheating.
30 Extreme Ban Hammer - Overwatch
Overwatch, the team-based multiplayer first-person shooter, doesn’t do things by halves when it comes to cheaters. Blizzard are strong believers in creating a level playing field and they don’t take kindly to anyone cheating or trying to exploit the game in any way. If you are caught cheating in Overwatch, then you can expect a ban.
You should also note that Blizzard’s ban hammer is permanent.
Former players are reporting that they have uninstalled, reinstalled and even purchased new games but still couldn’t play the game past a day or two at most.
29 Erasing Your Hard Work - Gears Of War 2
Gears of War 2 is a third-person shooter which uses Microsoft’s Gamerscore system. This is where completing in-game achievements for a variety of games will earn you a high score, bragging rights, and an inflated ego.
However, if you decide to try and cheat your way to the top, Gears of War 2 will bring you crashing down. If you use cheats, exploits or hacks to complete the game's achievements then the only thing you receive is crushing disappointment as your Gamerscore is reset to zero. Harsh.
28 A Level Playing Field - Titanfall
Respawn’s multiplayer first-person shooter Titanfall pits players against each other using their pilots and mechanical Titans. The fast-paced six V six matches are great fun, which can be spoiled by cheaters using auto aim or bots.
Don’t worry though, if you encounter a cheater they won’t be around for long.
If you cheat in multiplayer you quickly become grouped with other cheaters and aimbot users. What better way to counteract the advantages of hacking than by creating a new level playing field, of cheats?
27 Calling You Out - Star Wars Dark Forces
This LucasArts first-person shooter may be old but it’s still a strong feature of the Star Wars video game line up. Released back in 1995 it gained very favorable reviews for its use of gameplay features uncommon at the time, including multiple floor levels.
You can cheat in the game, but the developers like to mock you for it. The cheat code is LAIAMLAME to active God mode. Yes, that’s right, essentially to cheat you have to declare that you are lame.
26 As If By Magic - Game Genie
The Game Genie is a cheat cartridge, originally designed by Codemasters. These devices were available for a range of consoles including Nintendo’s Super NES and Game Boy as well as Sega’s Genesis and Game Gear.
They fitted into the consoles and allowed users to input cheat codes quickly and easily into their games.
Nintendo, however, didn’t like this idea and actually sued Galoob for distributing the device. They lost the case, but the second-generation Game Genie never did arrive. Nintendo users also report seeing glitched versions of Nintendo titles when using the devices.
25 Vigilante Justice - Ark: Survival Evolved
Ark: Survival Evolved is a survival game from Studio Wildcard. This is different from the other entries on the list as there is no in-game system to help out players who are being trolled by others.
One fateful day an Ark player by the name of Barbaric Seagull decided to take matters into his own hands and trapped a notorious troll called Ricky. Each time the prisoner tried to lower his health and trigger a respawn he was healed. Eventually, he was released after being forced to craft care packages for new players. He now plays in his captors’ tribe and is a reformed character.
24 Serious Consequences - PUBG
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is a last man standing Battle Royale in which sadly cheating is rife. In the East, where around half of PUBG’s users are based, they are taking the matter very seriously.
Police have been enlisted to root out cheaters.
According to a report, published in January, 30 cases have been opened and 120 arrests made. Some past offenders have even been sent to jail.
These are real-life serious consequences for cheating, some of the most serious I can imagine.
23 The Konami Cheat Code Cheats You
The Konami cheat code was first discovered in Gradius. Since then it has granted power-ups to a wide range of games, both Konami titles and those from other developers.
However not all games play nice with the code, some have unexpected consequences. One such title is Pop n Twinbee, a top-view Konami shoot ‘em up from the 1990’s. If you enter the code then your craft will plummet to the ground, fast.
Other titles to seek vengeance for cheaters include Super Monkey Ball Jr, which changes the title to super nice try, and Gradius 3 which will explode your ship.
22 Common Pokémon - Pokémon Go
Pokémon Go! is an augmented reality game that requires you to get off your sofa and out into the world to find and collect Pokémon. Naturally, some users didn’t appreciate this and began to use cheats and bots to send their character out exploring, while they stayed in bed.
Developers Niantic didn’t like this idea, feeling it took away from the heart of the game.
They had a simple solution though, anyone who tries to cheat the system will only find common Pokémon such as pidgeys, weedles, and zubats.
21 You’re Doomed - Heretic
Heretic may be a first-person shooter built on the Doom engine, but it doesn’t share its cheat codes. If you use Doom’s well-known codes on Heretic you instead get some rather unexpected consequences.
The Doom God mode code actually sends you to meet your maker, rather than become him.
The all weapons code also has a similar reverse effect. Inputting this code will give you the message “Cheater! – You don’t deserve weapons” and you will find yourself unarmed.
20 Insulting Consequences - Postal 2
Postal 2 is a black comedy first-person shooter with a cheat system as politically incorrect as the game's content. It begins with the word “sissy,” which you need to enter to activate the cheats. Many of the cheat codes are rude or offensive in some way.
The game doesn’t stop there however as not only does it call you out immediately by saying “cheats are enabled, hope you’re happy” it will continue to mock you. It's not just cheating either, saving frequently will also expose you to a barrage of insults.
19 Announcing Your Actions - Theme Hospital
The much-loved Bullfrog Productions simulation game from 1997, Theme Hospital allows you to build and run your own hospital.
Dealing with inflated heads and invisible patients sometimes took its toll and your hospital could start losing money quicker than you could claw it back in.
At this point, players could head to the trusty fax machine, remember those?
Entering a code onto the faxes keypad would give your funds a boost, but at a cost. Your hospital would soon be flooded with the annoying and repetitive announcement “the hospital administrator is cheating.”
18 A Surprising Score - Descent Series
Descent is a 3D first-person shooter which doesn’t take kindly to cheats. If you try and enable cheat mode, then you’ll quickly find your score reset to zero.
It doesn’t end there either. Once cheat mode is engaged any action which would have previously granted points now only causes your sad zero to flash CHEATER. The only way to gain points was to restart the game and play properly.
This continued across the Descent series, with Descent II and III also punishing you for cheating with reduced scores and shields.
17 Get A Flag - Civilization II
Sid Meier’s Civilization II is an early incarnation of the popular turn-based strategy series. It contained some new concepts, such as firepower and hit points, and was a popular sequel to the original Civilization.
As well as the new features you would also find a new feature to deal with cheaters.
Although cheat codes worked it was at the end of the game that you discovered your penalty. Your (not so) hard-earned score would be flagged so everyone could see that you are a cheater, cheater pumpkin eater.
16 No Conclusion - Earthbound
Earthbound is also known as Mother 2 and is a huge role-playing game from Japan. It takes many hours of gameplay to complete but think twice before you reach for those cheat codes.
If you cheat your way through the game, it will freeze on the final battle. Not only will you not get to see the conclusion of your gameplay, but things get much worse. To unfreeze you must restart, at which point the game will erase all data from the cartridge. There’s no conclusion to the storyline unless you play by the rules.
15 Keckleon Surprise - Pokémon Mystery Dungeon
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon is a spin-off from the Pokémon video game series which involves navigating your way through a series of randomly generated dungeons. In the game, there are several dungeon shops with cool items for sale.
Players tempted to take shortcuts found that you could actually shoplift items from the store. However, doing so spawns a number of level 90 keckleons who can quickly overwhelm you.
Well geared and prepared players actually went on to cheat deliberately in order to exploit the punishment by killing and capturing the Keckleon.
14 No Happy Ending - Undertale
Undertale is an indie role-playing game from 2015. The critically acclaimed title has been praised for pretty much everything, from the storyline to the score. They don’t take kindly to cheaters though.
If you use cheats or exploits, then prepare for a miserable ending.
The game ending you see suggests that you contact the dev due to a bug. Just when you panic they clarify that they know what you are up to with a screen that reads “chances are though you are just a dirty hacker aren’t you? Yeah, get outta here”
13 Earthworm Jim
Earthworm Jim is a quirky series of side-scrolling platformers. Noted for its surreal humor and edgy art style, this series was first developed by Shiny Entertainment back in 1994.
While battling through the crazy world many players would begin to think of cheats. As with so many platformers, the temptation to just skip over that infuriating level is great.
For those about to cheat however you would receive a surprise when Earthworm Jim himself calls you out on it. Nothing gets past that crazy worm.
12 Overwatch Is Watching - Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
The Counter-Strike series is one of the most popular first-person shooters of all time. It employs a system known as overwatch to root out cheaters. Monitoring matches and reports from other players are combined to discover who isn’t playing fair.
If you are found to be cheating, then expect the banhammer.
If the overwatch system discovers your exploits, then you can expect anything from a short-term ban to a lengthy period in exile.
11 The Circle Of Life - The Lion King
This video game adaptation of the Disney movie from 1994 is notoriously difficult. This was said to be because developers were instructed to make it impossible to beat the game in a single rental period.
The levels were often frustrating and the temptation to enter the level code to skip over the most tedious and annoying levels was incredibly high. However, doing so would result in disappointment as once you skipped ahead you were then instantly transported back to the dreaded level 2 monkey puzzle.
10 Big Leagues, Big Consequences - Esports Leagues
The Esports industry has grown hugely over the years and as prizes get bigger and stakes get high the numbers of people trying to take shortcuts increases.
Hunting out cheaters is obviously incredibly important for the industry and different Esports leagues have various ways to do this. The penalties, however, are equally harsh across the board.
Bans and fines await those who don’t play by the rules, not to mention the trashing your reputation would take if discovered to be trying to play the system.
9 Not So Super - Superman Returns
This 2006 game, based on the movie of the same name, involves exploring Metropolis as Superman. The map is a mostly open world and the aim of the game is to explore the city, using Superman’s powers to complete achievements.
If you want to fast-track your progress or gain some powers you are in for a rude awakening.
Cheating in Superman Returns unlocks the not so super achievement. Not only is this calling you out, but it also stops you unlocking any other achievements. If you want to complete this game, you need to be a good hero.
8 Many Regrets - Crusader: No Regret
The 1996 top-down action game sequel has some hidden surprises for those who don’t play by the rules. If you enter the cheat codes from the first Crusader game, then your regret is going to kick in very quickly.
At first, it seems simple, just a call out saying “of course we changed the cheats…duh.”
However, this is far from the end. You will soon be transported to a special room where 8 incredibly strong bosses riding giant mechs will attack you, to a background theme of Christmas music.
It has been known for players to survive this onslaught, but not for long, even victory means death for cheaters in this game.
7 Chump - Donkey Kong Country 3
Donkey Kong County 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble is an adventure platform developed by Rare. It is the final game in the original Donkey Kong County trilogy.
As you journey through the games 48 levels many players became tempted to start searching for cheat codes and there were a lot of them about.
Sadly, for anyone wanting to skip some levels but keep their cool, the game was ready to call you out. Almost every cheat code available gives you the end ranking of "cheatin' chump" highlighting your antics to anyone checking out your score.
6 Use The Force – LEGO Mindstorms Droid Developer Kit
The LEGO Mindstorms Droid Developer Kit lets you build and programme an R2D2 and L-3GO droid with help from the game. It also allows you to begin to explore and build other more complex droids with the kit.
The idea is to programme the droid with the help of the software. If, however you decide to try and hack your way through it by using cheat codes, then prepare for a telling off.
Entering a cheat code simply displays the message "Jedi who have chosen the light side cannot cheat" There are no shortcuts to become a Jedi master.
5 Warp Pipe Mayhem - Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels
The Lost Levels is the first sequel to the bestselling platformer, Super Mario Bros. In this early outing of Mario and Luigi, you must battle through some of the franchises most difficult levels in order to rescue Princess Peach.
This high difficulty level meant that cheating was incredibly tempting.
Those looking for shortcuts hunted high and low to see if they would discover warp pipes that would advance them a few levels. Sadly, not all was rosy for these enterprising players as many pipes actually sent you back levels.
4 Won Nothing - Cool Boarders 3
This snowboarding game franchise was popular on the PlayStation and gave you the chance to compete in a variety of races and unlock a number of characters.
Cool Boarders 3 offered more to unlock than previous titles in the series. With competitions to win, boards to unlock and characters to discover some player were tempted by the wonitall cheat code.
Although it sounded fantastic, the reality was that the code did absolutely nothing except call you out for being a cheater.
3 The Dark Queen Knows - Battletoads Double Dragon
BattleToads/Double Dragon is a beat ‘em up from the early 1990s. It’s a crossover of two franchises, Technos Japan’s Double Dragon and Rare’s Battletoads.
Playing as characters from both franchises you must fight your way through seven stages, each with a boss at the end.
Once this is done you can fight the dark queen in the final battle. For players who used a code to fight the dark queen early there was a surprise in store. After you defeat her, the game says "at least the dark queen doesn't cheat"
2 Practice Poker - Dust: A Tale Of The Wired West
This point and click adventure from 1995 takes you through a western town in New Mexico. Saloons, gunslinging and good old poker all feature in this Cyberflix game.
As you journey through your wild west adventure you’ll come across the opportunity to play poker.
This is where the temptation to cheat is, after all, that’s what they do in westerns, right?
In this case, if you take the path of the dirty cheater it will be the last thing you do as the game decides your fate and your journey ends, very abruptly.
1 High Score Callout - Heroes Of Might And Magic
Heroes of Might and Magic is the first game in the turn-based strategy series. It involves controlling armies in a fantasy-themed world. As with many turn-based strategies sometimes the gameplay can be a little slow and that temptation arises to cheat.
If you find and enter cheat codes in Heroes of Might and Magic, it may look at first like you’ve gotten away with it, but the game knows.
Once you hit the end of the game your high score will be displayed forever more under the name CHEATER.