It felt so dirty the first time I did it, but it felt so good.

For weeks, I'd been bested by fellow 7 year olds, Mickey and Matt Huff, atop their brand new Nintendo Entertainment System Power Pad, when suddenly it came to me like a revelation.



In the midst of this grueling game of track and field I abruptly dropped to my knees and started banging the hell out of their power pad with my fists.

"That's not fair," Matt shouted, but it was contagious, and he jumped off the pad to give it a try.



And it only made sense to me. You could move your arms a lot faster than your legs, and it's not like the NES could tell the difference.

All the same...it felt like sin.

That was my first memory of video game cheating, but it wouldn't be the last time I did it. It was the beginning of a long and dirty lifestyle that continues to thrill me to this day.

Can you think back on all the video games, and all the time you saved finding out the codes for them? Sure, they were hard to come by at first, but when you uncovered that invincibility cheat, wasn't it glorious?

It's easier these days to find cheats to your favorite games. All you need is google, and you're into as many extra lives as you can dream up.

Back in the day, you had to either have a subscription to GamePro or Nintendo Power, or you had to have a friend with one. And those cheats weren't really even that great.



Seems like it was rumor that spread the best codes...these consumer magazines were best for maps and strategies, but who gave a hell about those? I wanted the ability to jump over skyscrapers and walk through walls.

Then came the Game Genie and it blew our asses skyhigh. It was a legit way to cheat, and the geniuses that came up with this should get a cookie.



You could do things you'd never dreamed of with this cheating machine. Unlimited lives? Shit. You could enslave Goombas on Mario Bros. to do your bidding.

That's how badass this contraption was. It was sent straight from heaven...but was it too much of a good thing? Could making yourself resistent to all your enemies take the ying from the yang?

It's possible, because after all you can't have the bad without the good. Megaman's a great video game, but guess why? It's hard!

That goes for games like Mike Tyson's Punch Out too! Ever beat Mike Tyson? I guess there's a few of you out there, but even with the code that took you straight to that crazy, lisping cannibal, it's damn near impossible.



The codes that shortcutted you to the end didn't seem as cheap as the ones that made you some kind of walking, digital messiah who could cure 8-bit illness.

It was awesome for a little while until you beat the game 1,000 times, and you found yourself putting that game genie in the closet with the rest of your unused toys.

And then there's the issue of making yourself impossible to kill when playing with two players. You can kick your opponent's ass all day long, but you won't get anywhere.

Like that revelation in my seven-year-old mind as I discovered a way around using the NES Power Pad the way it was meant to be used.



Once you and your opponent are both using hands instead of feet, you've leveled the playing field, and you're back where you started.

These days I still cheat with video games. It's a hard habit to break. I've even got a little, frayed piece of legal paper propped on the table in the living room with my Vice City (I know it's an old game, but I still love it) cheats on it.

My girlfriend called me out on it the other day. "What's the big deal?" I asked her.

"You shouldn't cheat, darlin."

As if it's some kind of reflection of my own personal ethics. But I got to admit, cheating does take away from the game a little...but only if you've got all the time in the world to actually get good at the game and discover all the secrets on your own.

Me? I really don't, and I'm lazy. But if you're in the midst of a life of crime, think back for a moment to your childhood. Remember that Contra code? That was the start of the downward spiral.



It's a slippery slope, and when you find yourself taking the same shortcuts and growing more bored by the minute, it's time to get rid of the game genie and spend some time getting your ass kicked a little first.

I wonder what ways people will discover for getting around the Nintendo Wii controllers. Surely there's a special way to hold them...an appendage you can misuse to your advantage.