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To Guide or Not to Guide: Secret Codes for Super NES (1996, Brady Publishing)

in books •  4 months ago

I was an avid Super Nintendo fan in my youth. I still am, to be honest, but back when the 16-bit console wars were waging, I threw my lot in with Nintendo's console and never looked back. While my hopes took a hit with the censored release of Mortal Kombat, my confidence came roaring back when Nintendo gave the finger to Sega (and concerned parents everywhere) by releasing subsequent entries in the franchise blood-drenched and uncensored.

Beyond that though, Super Nintendo had the RPGs I longed to pour my life into: gems like Final Fantasy II, Final Fantasy III, Chrono Trigger, and my personal favorite, Secret of Mana. While these games were great for long summer days when I didn't have a care in the world, sometimes I wanted something I could just pick up and play for a bit, and that's where action games like Alien 3, Gradius III, Final Fight 2, and Donkey Kong Country fit in my library. Naturally, in the pre-internet days, one had to spend time and effort browsing magazines to get the info, the tricks, and the cheats we all longed for, but when I saw books like this on the shelf, I jumped on them like I was six years old and had just found my cousin's trampoline.

Secret Codes for Super NES is 112 pages of exactly what it said on the cover, and 1996 me was happy to part with my $7.99 to have such convenient and easy access to these things. But it's 2018, things have changed, and it's time to ask the question:

To Guide or Not to Guide?

For such a small book, this guide has a huge list of editors and contributors. This makes sense, since no one person could possibly know all this info on ninety-three different games across every genre imaginable--at least not until you got your grubby little hands on the final publication.

A huge selling point for me as a kid was that this book held no pretensions about what it was there to do. There's no flowery prose explaining what the games were about, no juggled buzz-words about Mode 7 graphics and blast processing, no final review scores passing judgement on a particular game's fitness for existence.

There were only codes:

Source: My scan, but (c)Brady Publishing

What did the code do, when did you input it, and maybe a screenshot that corresponded to the code if you were lucky -- that was it for ninety-three games arranged in alphabetical order from Adventures of Batman and Robin to WWF Royal Rumble. No fuss, no muss, no judgement. If you enjoyed playing Madden '95, here were the codes to unlock the secret teams. Sim City more your speed, then here's a tip to get you just under a million bucks. Passwords to bypass troublesome levels, sound test codes to loop your favorite music, and places where you could boost your score into the stratosphere...they were all here between the covers, with no digging through old issues of GamePro, EGM, or Nintendo Power to find that elusive series of button presses that would unlock more Fatality time, insane dunks, or infinite continues. All this in a little tip book designed to be stuck in your back pocket so you could take it to your friend's house and keep the madness rolling until the morning.

Today, of course, the need for books like these is minimal. A quick trip to a site like GameFAQs will present you with more comprehensive information than you'll find in here. Using the Madden '95 example from above, Secret Codes for Super NES gives you the codes to unlock the Jaguars and Panthers, but doesn't tell you about the third team (the 1969 Chicago Bears) buried in the game's innards, nor the code for playing a one minute long exhibition game.

Though it pains me to say it given how much I enjoyed it back in the day, there's a reason they don't publish books like this any longer. You already have it, and much more, in your pocket--it's called a smartphone, and it obsoleted these compilation books in the mid-2000's. For rampant SNES freaks with sketchy internet connections and 16-bit book enthusiasts only...and even then, only if you're cool with paying more than the cover price for your own personal copy.

Not To Guide

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the hpb link does not work... just to tell you... Enjoy your day @modernzorker... 😊 @peekbit


Really? How works just fine for me. I wonder if the site has international accessibility problems. :(


yes maybe - "request blocked by security rules..." so I'm dangerous 😊 @peekbit



I remember buying those magazines for cheat codes and tips way back then! Yet another thing the Internet killed.


The internet really only killed them because they couldn't figure out how to adapt. Magazines like Little Player, RETRO, and the UK Retro publication are all doing just fine in today's cutthroat climate. :)

Interesting read! It brought me back to the old days when cheat codes were still a thing. They kind of disappeared nowadays, though. Or maybe I am just not aware of them, as I was in the past...


They're not as ubiquitous as they once were, @iamk, and you can thank the proliferation of reward systems like Trophies and Achievements for that. Games that do ship with cheat codes built in usually hit the player with a penalty, like an inability to save the game or disabling the code which awards an achievement for accomplishing a particular goal. Nobody, after all, wants to see someone Platinum the likes of Dark Souls on day one simply by putting in a code for infinite HP and brute forcing their way to the end boss. :)


Thanks for shedding some light on this! It sounds logical that cheats would defeat the purpose of a rewards system, in turn making them (somewhat) redundant.


You're more than welcome, @iamk! Glad I could help. :)

I relied on Nintendo Power back then. For some reason even when I had the cheat for SimCity I couldn't get the Megalopolis.


Megalopolis status should be difficult to come by! Sim City was all about learning more than anything else, which was nice: just because you had all that money, it didn't mean you knew the best ways to spend it. :)

BTW, the Bowser disaster was always my favorite. What was yours, @freemarketkev? :)

This is great. My Niece is a pretty avid gamer and I was trying to explain Game Genie, GamePro Magazine and the importance of finding the cheapest gaming halls and arcades in town.
It truly was a great cultural to come up in.
Great article! Thanks and resteemed!


Thank you so much, @luciferrin! Going through these books has been an exceptional blast from the past, but seeing the response of people who are reading and enjoying them, engaging with them, reminds me of why I started writing in the first place. High-five to your niece--what's she like to play these days? :)


I honestly couldn’t say. I know she’s all over Twitch and Steam. My guess is she’s into Fortnight right now, BUT, her go-to is whatever current Mortal Kombat is out and the first three originals. She’s a cool little chick. As soon as she was old enough, she got the original MK logo tattooed on her wrist.
Definitely fond memories!
Have a good one!
: )