Helping those less pro become more so.

Pro tip: Easy combo breakers

Killer Instinct has a kind of convoluted combo system, which we'll talk about in depth another day. You can, with skill, string together lots of moves to just pummel your opponent senseless for several seconds.

Good thing, then, that there's a method to break the combos in mid-stream. A move that everyone has called, oddly enough, a 'combo breaker'. The breaker is different for each character, but it's normally just one of their regular moves done at the right time, and with the right button.

Okay, at its basic form, a combo consists of an opening move (the Opener), an autodouble (for a couple more hits), and then a finisher for a few more hits and the icing on the cake.

Problem is, though, that to break the combo you have to have timing and a pretty deep understanding of each character's moves.

Timing. You have to do your breaker during the autodouble portion of the combo (or the linker stage, but that's another pro tip). Not too tough, right? Just have to learn to recognize where the opening move ends and the next couple of hits start. Now, the 'intimate knowledge' part comes in. You have to recognize whether the autodouble was initiated with a weak, medium, or strong button, and press the corresponding button to break the combo. Weak breaks medium, medium breaks strong, and strong breaks weak.

But that's a whole lot of memorization, attentiveness, and, *gasp*, work!

Turns out that there's a slightly easier way.

On the 'Vs.' screen (that shows the matchup) press Down + Start and you'll hear this sound.

Then, the combo breakers get way easier. Now you can do them with any strength button you want. Though you still have to get the timing down.

But once you get that down, you're in great shape.

Oh, and it works in the arcade version, too.

Pro tip: Deciphering fighting game maneuvers

There was a time where arcades were just lousy with fighting games. Killer this, Street that, and Mortal something else. All different, yet all sharing traits. One that was shared by a lot of games is the six-button control layout. Three punches of varying strengths and three kicks of varying strengths. All laid out in a 3x2 block.

But it's tough to keep things straight, especially when you're trying to tell someone how to do a special move or other.

"Okay, jump in and hit Roundhouse, then hold Back, press Jab a couple of times, then press Forward and Fierce"

People who play fighting games just don't have the kind of time to waste with all those words. So, since several games had the same control layout anyway, some folks used numbers instead.

Using this, we can modify our previous stratagem into this much quicker missive

"Okay, jump in and hit 6, then hold Back, press 1 a couple of times, then press Forward and 3"

Much more concise, especially in the heat of a tournament or training session.

Pro tip: Cheating in Minesweeper

I mentioned before, I'm pretty bad at Minesweeper.

But, I'm a sucker, so I play it occasionally anyway, and like to win sometimes. So I cheat. And here's how.

Start up a new game of Minesweeper and type the non-word 'xyzzy' (without the quotes) and hit shift+enter. Now, when your mouse is hovering over a square that's OK to click, the pixel in the top left corner of your monitor will turn white. It'll turn black if there's a mine under there. And by 'monitor' I really do mean the far upper-left corner of your actual screen, not the Minesweeper window.

Now, armed with this knowledge, I'd like to see you fail, no matter how ludicrous the challenge.

Pro tip: Save ghost data in Super Mario Kart

When you do time trials in the original Super Mario Kart and you do well, you get to race against your ghost, so long as you race again on the same track. If you got a particularly good time on a track, wouldn't it be awesome if you could save that ghost to challenge yourself or your friends later on?

Good news for you, there is!

First, go to Time Trials and pick any track, preferably one that you're good at, and not Vanilla Lake 1. Next you have to qualify to have the game remember your ghost data. In order for that to happen, you have to not hit any walls, not fall off the track, not go into the water, and get a reasonably good time. I can't really tell you what the time threshold is, since it's different per track, but an easy way to check if you've satisfied all the criteria is to watch your replay. If you can use L and R to rotate the camera, then you've qualified for a ghost.

Then, when your replay is over, and you're looking at your options on what to do next, hold L, R, Y, and then press X. You'll hear a 'ding'.

Now, if you exit back to the menu where you choose your track, you'll notice that the name of the track has turned yellow, which means that you've saved your ghost.

Now just highlight the yellow track, and when it's asking if you're sure you want to race on that track, and hold L, R, X, and hit B. You'll hear another 'ding' and load your ghost data that you've saved.

Beware, though, you can only save one ghost on the cartridge. If you save another one on the same or another track, it'll erase the older one.

Pro tip: Give a Westfall chicken to your Horde buddies

This tip is a little bit complicated to pull off, but the rewards are... well, the reward is a chicken. A kind of rare chicken that can normally only be gotten by the Alliance characters on your server.

First, find a chicken. Any chicken will do. Then, target the chicken and do the '/chicken' emote in front of it. If you're lucky, the chicken will briefly turn into a quest-giver and give you a quest. If not, then you have to try again. It's kind of rare, so you might be there for a while.

Then you need to work your way to Westfall, along with one of your Horde buddies. Just make sure that you have some way to communicate outside the game, since you can't really talk to each other in game.

Then, work your way to Farmer Saldean and buy the Special Chicken Feed.

Then find any chicken you like and do the emote '/cheer' at it. Give it the feed and:

Out pops an egg. Once the egg is spawned, anyone can pick it up, even someone who hasn't done the quest, including people on the other side of the war.

Have fun with your chicken.

Thanks, DakotaS96, for help with getting the screenshots!

Pro tip: Pac-Man's safe spot (a.k.a. his Happy Place)

You all know Pac-Man, the little guy that eats the dots in the mazes. His games are pretty tough, and they don't give you much of a chance to breathe.... Unless you know a little something about it.

There is one safe location in the maze, but the thing is, it's not always safe. It's the little area just to the right and up from where you begin each board.

Now, in order for that to be safe, you have to enter it while all the monsters are looking away from you. If they don't see you go in, they can't find you. It's kind of tough to keep your eyes on five points in the maze at the same time, but it is doable. You'll know that you did it correctly if you sit there for more than a few minutes and the monsters don't eat you. They kind of go in this repeating pattern of wandering aimlessly around (although they do come perilously close to your hidey-hole).

I was able to sit there for ten minutes before I went on to something else, but you could stay there for a lot longer if you want.

Pro tip: The NES 'Breath of Life'

It's a method nearly as old as the NES itself. A game doesn't work, so you blow into the cartridge connector and, blam! The game works again! For a while. Then you don't play the game for a while, and then it doesn't work again. So you blow into it again, and it still doesn't work again, so you go through a dance of insertion, removal, blowing on the contacts, and reinsertion.

The underlying problem is likely that good contact isn't getting made between the pins in the cartridge and the connector in the NES itself. When you blow on the cartridge with your breath, you're getting water vapor from your breath on your cartridge, which briefly increases the conductivity of your cartridge. Which is great, right?

Well, no, not exactly. That increased connectivity makes your game work for a time, but at the cost of the lifespan of your cartridge. The water on the cartridges combined with the slight electrical current leads to increased corrosion on your cartridges. And, while it can be cleaned, it's best to not have the corrosion in the first place.

So what do you do? If you really think that your cartridges are dusty, invest in a can of compressed air to remove it, and it probably won't do a whole lot. No, your best bet is to remove and reinsert the cartridge and give it another shot. And if you have lots of problems with lots of games, you might consider doing repair on your console, which isn't very tough, really, but it's beyond the scope of this tip.

Pro tip: get 30 Trogdors

So, yeah, the Konami Code doesn't work in all the games that people claim it will, but the list isn't all wrong.

Take the Trogdor game on the website, for example. When you see the screen that says 'click anywhere to start' and, instead of clicking, you put in the Code (substituting 'Enter' for 'Start', of course), and then click anywhere to start, you get this.

And that makes it nearly impossible to lose.

Pro Tip: Tetris 2, Puzzle Mode 30 is a pushover

Tetris 2 is kind of like Dr. Mario with Tetris pieces. You have to line up three in a row to make them vanish. And the goal is to make the spheres disappear. And as bad as I am at the Puzzle Mode in most games, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the last puzzle in Tetris 2 was pretty easy to solve.

Okay, take a look at this:

Looks pretty tough until you remember that if you get six blocks of the same color in a row then all the blocks of that color on the screen disappear.

Armed with this knowledge, place the first piece here:

The second piece here:

And the third piece here:

This will set off a chain reaction:

Then you just put the next piece here:

Another small chain reaction later and:

Boom! Perfect clear!

Pro tip: Lots of free lives in Mega Man X

Mega Man X is a tough game the first few times you play it. Wouldn't it be nice if there was a way to get lots of lives to kind of ease the learning curve?

Good news for you, then, there is!

First, you have to go to the Armored Armadillo stage. One of the first things you find is this weird cart thingy that shuttles you real fast through portions of the level.

Hop on, and then immediately hop off so that the cart gets out of your way. Then proceed normally until you find this Bubble Bat

Get close and he'll swoop to attack!

Shoot him, though (one shot from any weapon will do), and odds are very high that he'll drop a 1-Up.

Even better is that you can scroll his ledge off the screen and right back and he'll reappear and be ready to drop another 1-Up. You can repeat this as many times as you want (though you won't get much benefit after you get 9 of 'em).

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