Passwords of the Past

We have to thank our gaming developers for coming up with a way of saving our progress without those annoying long passwords. Remember the good old days of the NES where you would be very far in a game called Metroid. You decide to take a break and go outside for a change and write down the long grueling password. You have fun with your friends and come back for another session of alien beating goodness only to find yourself getting an error message while imputing the password. What did you do wrong, you wonder? Sadly, that was the reality of the golden ages of gaming especially with the Metroid game and don’t get me wrong, the game is great but the most important part of the whole game is knowing how to write the password. I had many problems with this, in fact I had so many problems with this game that I learned to beat the game in one run without turning the NES off so I would be able to see the ending and boy did I have a good ending!


Now, I won’t spoil it for you guys because maybe there are a few of you who have never touched this game so let’s just say the ending is well worth it, especially if you beat it fast enough. Anyways, I don’t think my NES minded me playing it for three-four hours straight. It was actually very usual for me to play it that long, but of course, with different games. Now, the only ones that were lucky enough to evade this were the Japanese as they got the game released on the Famicom Disk System which was an add-on for the original Famicom that would let you run disks. The idea was really good until they realized the disk drive would break very easily. So much for making a low cost gaming console… Either way, the Metroid disk would have saving available unlike our version. It made their lives more stress-free and ours a pain in the ass.

Metroid Disc

There were other games with the same situation like Kid Icarus which also got a Disk System only released in Japan and even Super Mario Bro 2J which was never released in the United States until years later. Super Mario Bros 2J would keep a track of how many times you beat the games by adding a small mushroom at the top of the screen, it was quite interesting because I bought a couple of those games for my disk system and found myself with a screen filled with mushrooms! Someone sure loves his Mario! Overall, we have to take into account the changes to video games over the years, things such as passwords were used up all the way to the Playstation one and Nintendo 64 era so they are not that old. Of course, we don’t even use them anymore due to having advanced consoles such as the PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii.

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Luis Zena

I'm Luis Z, aka Famicomfreak from Retro Gaming Life the site that has everything you need to know about retro games, emulation, and information involving the magical past of video gaming.

5 thoughts on “Passwords of the Past

  • I think the worst passwords on the NES were probably for Faxanadu- I don’t think it was originally an FDS game like the rest, but the passwords were huge, nonsensical and with subtle differences between some of the characters. Between that and Metroid I still draw slashes through my zeroes to this day.

  • The worst for me was when the old Nintendo would flake out at the password screen. I remember the passwords for the first Metal Gear and after beating a really hard boss the game scrambled the code just as I was finishing writing it down. I almost broke my NES that day. The classic Mega Man codes also drove me crazy.

  • Ah Faxanadu, what an awesome game to loophole. I remember spending hours if not days going back and forth between 2-3 different screens, killing and leveling. I think that was the main failing of that game. Once you reached a certain level and got your ‘mantra’ (password) then reloaded using that password, it would automatically give you a certain amount of cash. It was my very first grind. I would level my character almost all the way up in the first level or two, then would have all the cash I needed to deck my character with the best of everything and all the regen items I could carry. Then suddenly those bad guys that originally seemed so very hard were cake. And I remember all too well that sickening feeling in my stomach when I tried to load a carefully transcribed mantra only to find it would not accept it. I would get frustrated and furious as I tried every variation on it I could think of, only to fail them all and have to start all the way over. Oh the good old days!

  • Game saving has both saved and ruined many video games since then. Still those passwords to continue were usually HORRIBLE.

  • The funny part is that passwords were such an amazing invention at the time that we were fine with the significant failure rate 🙂 This was also back when it was totally ok to start a game from scratch every single time that you played it! To this day, I will not use save states when I play classic games. Well, I actually DO use save states but only in the same room as the save spot 😉

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